COLUMBUS, Ohio — There were plus and minus signs that could be counted up throughout spring practice at Ohio State. The Buckeyes were tracking every rep and building won-loss records.
And then there was a box score on Saturday at the Horseshoe for a scrimmage that put the quarterbacks on full display.
So, in theory, Ohio State should have had enough information as it progressed from March to the middle of April to try to figure out where all three of its options stood in the battle to take over the most important position on the roster. The trick for Ryan Day was to make sure he had an open mind while parsing through all that data at once, which apparently the second-year offensive coordinator was able to do.
Maybe that’s why he’s a coach and I’m breaking down the battle from the outside. Because there’s no way I’d have the patience to wait until the end of spring when the entire world wants an answer about the future leader of the offense, let alone putting it off for at least three days once camp ended.
“When you take a picture of it from a distance, I guess you could get caught up in that,” Day said. “But when you’re just focused on day to day, getting everybody better, we really focused hard on making sure the reps were split up so everybody had a fair shot at this thing. As long as everybody got better on a day-to-day basis, you put a plus next to that practice and that day.
“That was our approach going in … and at the end of spring we were going to take all the film, all the grades and everything, compile it all and then go from there.”
There understandably was no reason for the Buckeyes to rush to a decision. And based on the way Joe Burrow performed under pressure when Dwayne Haskins was almost universally projected to be the starter, allowing that race to actually be run before declaring a winner is objectively the right approach.
But there were mile-markers along the way. How could the Buckeyes really keep those blinders on for 15 full workouts without sneaking a peek at the leaderboard?
That focus is admirable, assuming Day is being completely honest about not having a pecking order in mind heading into the staff and individual meetings the program had scheduled for Wednesday. There is no reason to doubt him, just as there hasn’t been when Urban Meyer has been consistently, publicly calling the race too close to call since the start of spring ball.
At the same time, it also feels a little weird since there has to be some urgency to all of this considering Burrow’s ability to graduate and transfer is hanging in the air like a potential storm cloud that could wash out Ohio State’s depth. But, again, that’s why Day was handed one of the first million-dollar coordinator contracts in school history and my résumé only includes championships with video-game dynasties.
“I mean, the good news is we have good players,” Day said. “Good room, good quarterbacks, guys are getting better. There are some places that don’t have quarterbacks in the room that can play at the level that our guys can. That’s a positive. It’s all about how you think, it’s all about the self-talk and how you approach it. I’m really positive about it because I feel like we have a good room.
“Joe has said he wants to be a Buckeye, and he is a Buckeye. He’s shown loyalty here, so that isn’t really changing anything. But we are going to go through it all in the middle of these meetings and figure out where everybody is in their evaluations from the spring. We don’t play a game until September, so there is a lot to be written that way with the preseason and everything like that.”
Wait, September? Who has the patience to wait until then?
Odds are, Ohio State is going to have a much better idea of where it stands in the coming days, and that likely will clear up the picture heading into training camp.
But for now, there’s no resolution. And amazingly, that’s how Day wanted it all along.