Ohio State’s football season ended Jan. 1 with a Rose Bowl victory over Washington. But Buckeye football did not stop making news on that day.
Of course the event with the most long-term ramifications was Urban Meyer figuratively and literally handing his head coaching whistle to Ryan Day right after the Buckeyes finished off the Huskies.
Since then there have been a few shakeups on the coaching staff, a high-profile player turning pro and more. Here is where Ohio State stands about a month before National Signing Day.
QB situation very much in the air
As expected, Dwayne Haskins decided to turn pro after his sensational single season as OSU’s starting quarterback. That most likely leaves Tate Martell as the starter unless the NCAA grants Georgia transfer Justin Fields a waiver to play immediately, in which case it wil likely be a two-way race. Martell has already been pretty salty about the prospect of competing against Fields for the job. Of course Day has already spent a season with Martell — but also must be eager to work with Fields or else the transfer would not have happened. Stay tuned.
Top WRs opt to return
Haskins joined defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones in deciding to give up remaining eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft. But whoever starts at quarterback will still have some established weapons to throw to. Wide receivers K.J. Hill and Binjimen Victor have announced that they will return to Columbus in the fall. They join Chris Olave, who lit it up in the final few games of his true freshman season, as the likely top targets for 2019. That’s critical because Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon have all graduated.
Coaching changes intensify rivalry
Day has already made changes to the coaching staff, as OSU added Mike Yurcich from Oklahoma State as passing game coordinator and QB coach, promoted Brian Hartline to permanent receivers coach and named Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison as co-defensive coordinators, replacing Greg Schiano. The Mattison move, on Monday, was particularly interesting because he has been an assistant at Michigan for the past eight seasons. The next day another assistant, Al Washington, jumped from the Wolverines to the Buckeyes to be the linebackers coach. That won’t add to the bad blood between OSU and Michigan, now will it?
East favorite? Maybe
The Buckeyes are the two-time defending Big Ten champions and the only B1G school to win a national championship in the past 20 years, doing so twice. But should they still be considered East Division favorites for 2019? Some of that might come down to the remaining recruits who sign in February, because freshmen have been making major impacts around the country (witness the roles Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross played in Clemson’s demolition of Alabama in the CFP national title game). But for now, programs like Michigan and Penn State would probably rather deal with the obstacles they don’t know, like Day and Martell, than the ones they know like Meyer and Haskins.