RYAN DAY He stood his ground, because that’s what he does. There would be no outbursts or unfortunate comments that day.

But the Ohio State head coach didn’t run away from his emotions either. Sad, angry, frustrated, all that, Day said on the 12th. August on the Big Ten’s decision to cancel the fall season due to concerns about a coronavirus pandemic the day before. He described the 2020 Buckeyes as a unique team and said it would be terrible not to see this team on the field.

He looked to the future, five months before the start of January, and suggested that the only way for the Big Ten to save the football season would be to start right after the new year, not in the spring. By ending the conference for the NFL draft in April, they may be able to retain some of the players eligible for the draft, such as Ohio State quarterback B. Justin Fields. Early January also allows more time for the next fall season and semi-annual registration for two seasons in a calendar year.

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When you play a full schedule starting in the spring, like you did in March, you look for trouble, Mr. Day said at the time. But if you’re going to play an eight- or nine-game season, move it to January, that’s realistic. It’s important.

Just over a month later, however, the Big Ten reversed their initial decision (thanks in large part to voting margins) and shortened the fall season. There were still major obstacles, but the idea that Day could win Ohio State on the 11th. January’s lead on the field to face Alabama for the national title is no longer a fantasy.

That’s exactly what Day and Ohio State did Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Buckeyes lost to the 52-24 era, a bitter end to the season like no other. But it was only a performance.

This season is crazy, devastating, all at once. I think some of the matches will be cancelled, not cancelled as they were, Day said after the match. The things I was trying not to do, and the things we were trying not to do, focusing on those things, had excuses built in.

We continued.

MORE: The 2020 college football season in pictures

Error! The file name is not specified. Ohio State Coach Ryan Day and QB Justin Fields used their respective platforms to put pressure on the Big Ten to reverse the decision to hold the fall football season. AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

FIRST DAY OF USING THE #FIGHT hashtag on Twitter on the 10th. August, the eve of the official kickoff of the fall football season of the Ten Great Presidents and Chancellors. We are fighting as hard as we can for these players!!! It’s not over yet! Twitter by day. He proved his point. Christina Johnson University president, the football team’s chief medical officer, Dr. Jim Borchers, athletic director Gene Smith, parents of Ohio players and team members continued to push for a delayed and shortened fall season.

Fields, the Buckeyes’ most famous player, launched the #WeWantToPlay petition, which gathered more than 250,000 signatures in one day. Day, instead of tweeting regularly, continued to lobby through social media. Borchers, who played for Ohio State in the early 1990s, became the Big Ten’s leading medical voice in convincing presidents and chancellors to resume the season.

While Nebraska, Iowa and other Big Ten programs also made progress during the season, Ohio had the biggest brand, the strongest voice, the best team and the biggest influence to succeed. As a Big Ten assistant coach told me later: This is a team that wants to have the worst season ever. Bucky, they can win the damn thing.

Ohio State finally got a season, but it became a chore on several levels. The Buckeyes have played five regular season games and only one game between 21st and 21st. November and the Big Ten Championship on the 19th. Contested December. Like the day of the 19th. In November, we had 57 practices and only played three games. Very strange. When arch-rivals Michigan won the game on the 12th… In December, at Ohio Stadium, Ohio State had to ask Big Ten administrators to change the minimum requirements for playing in the league’s championship game to qualify.

The Buckeyes also had to worry daily or weekly about COVID-19 test results, game breakdowns and their chances of winning the Big Ten title and ultimately qualifying for the CFP. Ohio State is not the only team to have faced such obstacles, but no other team, not even Alabama, has experienced such a bumpy ride. The fact that the Buckeyes had legitimate aspirations for a national championship added to the excitement, but also the concern.

Not seeing our families, a lot of us couldn’t see our girlfriends, and being in that bubble and being right next to each other was hard, Marcus Williamson said. To go through all of this since June, and then to interrupt our season, there was much sadness around these walls and hallways.

Williamson added that coming to work every day and working as many hours as we do can be very stressful for her – both for her health and her mental health. When these brothers are around you and you know they are going through the same thing, I think it helped a lot of guys.

The day was transparent about what the players, coaches and staff will experience in 2020. He has experienced stress and anxiety on several occasions, ranging from delaying the start of the season to restarting, giving up and starting at South Florida. He prioritized mental health long before the pandemic. In June 2019, he and his wife, Christina, established the Child and Youth Mental Health Foundation at Columbus National Children’s Hospital. The topic is very personal to Day, whose father committed suicide when Ryan was only 9 years old.

Day also drew attention to the fact that the game affected its players and their families during the pandemic.

It hasn’t been easy. I think the hardest part was probably spending the holidays without them being with their families, Day said Thursday. And then there’s the constant change: the lack of routine, the change of direction here and there, and then the uncertainty. That was hard. … They were able to endure many hard times and hardships, so that was one of the positives.

Even after Monday’s game, Day thought about lining up his players.

We need a break, he said. We all need to escape. It’s been a long road, a very long road. Boys miss their families and they deserve time for themselves. We take a little break, reflect on how the season is going, and then we come back. You can’t just go back to work here. You need time to rest and think.

Error! The file name is not specified. We just went ahead and said the day of the test season. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

EASY TO REMEMBER Day is in his second full season as head coach and fourth overall at Ohio State. At 41, he’s younger than his six full-time assistants, but he’s well positioned to lead Ohio State for a season like 2020.

He is the players’ coach, said defense coordinator Kerry Coombs. He has a feel for the players. He talks to the players all the time. It is one of his greatest gifts. He understands these young people in this environment very well. He often gives us ideas on things that have nothing to do with football, but have to do with youth, and that is very useful.

Ohio’s record shows the usual asymmetrical victories against the Big Ten’s inferior opponents. But the Buckeyes made their most complete and convincing appearance in the PCP semifinals against Clemson, a team that will end the 2019 season in Ohio and that many believe will face Alabama. A day when Clemson won a landmark game in the program’s history.

Other obstacles stand in the way of the title game. Fields was still recovering from the huge blow to his side in the win at Clemson. Between the positives and the follow-up contacts, COWID-19’s problems began to affect the list in November, as did limited position groups like the offensive line, wide receiver and defender. The defensive line has also struggled in recent weeks. Ohio State suffered three fourth downs against Alabama, including a defensive tackle by Tommy Togiai, who the Big Ten coaches called the team’s most disruptive defensive lineman. Last week there were rumors of a possible delay of the game.

Day made it clear all week that his team wasn’t just eager to win the title. Every minute not spent on Alabama was wasted. Nevertheless, he continued to receive questions, and he continued to recognize the difficult and grueling road to South Florida. Ohio State will probably win more titles and compete in more national championships, but it will never have such an odyssey.

The way our kids fought through the season and came back, the way they dealt with all the adversity by canceling games, the way the guys dropped out, the way other programs had a lot of guys drop out early and were able to come back and get into a rhythm. We had a very, very difficult time doing it, said the day after Monday. So it is an incredible success that we have worked tirelessly on all of this and got to this point.

The goal of the game was not to get that far, but to win the game. Still, I couldn’t be more proud of our culture, what our kids are doing and where the program is going.

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