Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith posted to Twitter a simple gratitude video the morning of the national championship game, and reflected on the long, hard road to the promised land forced by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“This football season will go down as one of the toughest ever,” said Smith. “Battling for a season, game cancellations, covid, and injuries. We never knew what was going to happen week by week, or even day by day, but we got through it.”

The Buckeyes lost the chance to compete in three games due to cancellations and, with them, nearly their shot at the College Football Playoff. But after an anxious day following their Big Ten championship win, Ohio State at just 6-0 was invited to participate in the final four, and proceeded to hammer Clemson University, 49-28, in a semi-final to advance to the national championship. 

“To our coaches, staff, parents, and friends, thank you for your continued work and support of this team,” Smith continued. “You are the backbone of this program and we thank you for being behind us all the way.”

Smith’s song of thanks rolled on, encompassing the president of the university, the trustees, and the Big Ten Conference, colleagues he called amongst the best in the business. 

He saved for last both the raucous Ohio State fanbase, and the football playing athletes themselves.

“To Buckeye Nation, you are incredible, you are a fanbase unlike any other in sports. Your passion and dedication to the Scarlet and Gray is unflinching. My appreciation for you runs deep,” Smith said.

“And finally, to our Ohio State football student athletes. I am inspired by you every day. Your fight, your brotherhood, your love for one another. Your incredible perseverance through adversity. You are the reason we get to cheer tonight for a national championship.”

The Buckeyes and Alabama Crimson Tide are playing for the whole pile of chips at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. The game is set to kick off at 8 pm ET and will be broadcast in various formats across ESPN’s portfolio of networks. It was a wild ride for the entire country, but after all the twists and turns it is national championship Monday, and both teams will be on the field on time and dressed, ready to play.