Last summer, Ryan Day offered words that are now easily used against him: “Maybe in some places, the 11-2 Rose Bowl victory was a good year. It wasn’t at Ohio State.” The 11-2 scoreline won again — this time without a Big Ten title, another loss to Michigan and a loss in the College Football Playoff. This is his second consecutive year without a title.This will lead to some discussion of Columbus’ introspection, and maybe someone will mention that Day was in Ohio It’s 45–6.
I’m just a writer, but I’ve always thought winning 88% of games is pretty good.
Day gets paid close to $10 million a year to coach a weird kind of professional football in which employees don’t get paid because they have to go to college, so I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for him. But I do feel bad for fans who watch their team win 45 of 51 games and complain that the coach should be fired. What’s the fun in that? If your team wins 90% of games and makes you unhappy and unfulfilling, you’ve stopped watching sports for entertainment and started seeing them as the servants who come late to bring you tea.
Ohio State just lost to No. 1 Georgia State in a truly epic game.It’s heartbreaking like it could have been Georgia If the Buckeyes win. But over the course of three hours, Oregon State gave its fans a terrific, tense show of the kind that’s supposed to draw us into sports. Is this nothing? Can’t we just say “wow, what a game” without using the scoreboard to accuse the losers?
I don’t know how many Ohio State fans are actually thinking about whether Day should be fired. I suspect it’s not as much as Twitter sometimes shows, but it’s not just a few trolls either. I think it’s fair to say that a) the administration at Ohio State didn’t consider firing Day for three seconds, and b) Day’s future was a talking point among the fanbase. Next year, Day will visit Michigan with a new quarterback on a two-game losing streak. The Wolverines should be in the top 10 again.Ohio State has a long history of firing coaches Michigan.
But perhaps importantly, these are the best back-to-back Michigan teams in at least 30 years. Urban Meyer has never faced a Michigan team as good as those two. During the years when Jim Harbaugh couldn’t beat Ohio State or win a Big Ten title, I wrote that Harbaugh’s main problem was catching the Buckeyes at the peak of one of the greatest programs of all time. Ohio State is a top-five team every year, which is unusual even for Ohio State. It’s hard to beat a top-five team. This is not a complicated argument.
Ohio State is dealing with Michigan’s peak season right now. Of course, the Buckeyes still want to win that game, and they should. But the rest of us, especially those in the media, should be calm enough to admit that beating a great Michigan team is a lot harder than beating the mediocre to very good teams that Meyer faced.
Day’s top-five teams have lost two games this year, both to other top-five teams. disappointing? certainly. But that’s not the same as failure.
A few years ago, after North Carolina beat Duke in their annual regular-season end game, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski said, “Carolina is better than us. It’s not Means we can’t win.” It’s a perfectly rational comment Day can never get away with, since every college football season ticket comes with a pitchfork these days.
Day understands mountains and rivers. In a social media video last year, the Big Ten asked coaches to say a kind word about their opponents. Day said he couldn’t think of anything good about Michigan. Of course, he thought what his base wanted to hear was no answer. College football is so overheated that a coach is afraid to say that his opponent’s college and football program has a single redeeming quality.
The College Football Playoff has convinced a surprising number of fans that only one award is worth winning. Otherwise, this season is a failure. It’s a seriously twisted way of life. What other sport is like this? When was the last time you heard speculation about what college basketball coaches do after their teams reach the Final Four?
An expanded postseason will only make it worse. Winning games won’t be a big deal because college football is downplaying the best regular season in sports in the past. For some fan groups, making the playoffs doesn’t seem all that special since 11 other teams do it every year. Bowling games are irrelevant – players jump over them all the time, it’s their right – and while bowling systems have long lubricating pockets that aren’t worth lubricating, they’re also a boon to the sport. They’re a baby carrot for a team that has no real chance of being a big team.
When the playoffs expand to 12 teams, it will still be very selective (the NFL only has 32 teams, and 14 teams are in the playoffs), but it will also reduce the achievement of making it to the playoffs. Meanwhile, half of the football bowl divisions won’t play any meaningful games all year. These teams can’t win their conferences, won’t make the playoffs, and are now in a sport that’s throwing out every consolation prize because the most important thing is a national championship.
The expanded playoffs are another in a series of imperfect but exciting ways to be crowned champions. Crazy things happen. Sometimes, the fifth-placed team wins. The absolutely loaded program will be stunned in successive seasons. It’s part of the deal. Every game doesn’t have to be a referendum on coaches or programs. Last weekend, the two losing teams — Ohio State and Michigan — had every reason to believe they should have won games, but they didn’t. That is exercise. You can fail without failing.
all this should be pleasure. Winning 45 of 51 games should be fun. Getting to the playoffs should be fun. A missed field goal at the last second is never fun, but as disappointing as it is, I hope Ohio State fans appreciate the ride their team just gave them. I don’t care what Day said last summer, or what someone posted on a message board this week: A thrilling 11-2 playoff loss to the defending champs is definitely a good year. Even at Ohio State.