College Football Analyst
There is no greater motive in college football than when your heated rival wins a national championship.
Rivals drive each other to greatness, and that is what I love about college football. When you look back in history at some of the top rivalries throughout the sport, you’ll notice plenty of instances where these rival programs started trading national championships because when you see your rival winning, the level of commitment starts to ratchet up.
There were those great Miami teams in the late 80s and early 90s. Those teams were dominant during that time, and then, think about what Florida State did after that. Look back at Florida and Tennessee in the SEC in the mid-90s. It drives you to greatness when your rival achieves something you want.
This is college football. Rivalries drive the sport, and it’s not just the games against each other, it’s what the other achieves that you want.
That is exactly what is currently happening with Ohio State in response to Michigan winning the national championship this year. Ohio State played for a national championship back in 2020, and then, Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines redirected and started targeting that goal. Michigan accomplished that goal and won the national title this year, and now, Ohio State begins transitioning and forming a new plan to drive to win a national championship.
This past week alone, Ohio State landed two massive commitments in the transfer portal in defensive back Caleb Downs from Alabama and Julian Sayin, a five-star QB prospect who was committed to Alabama.
This is a major win for Ohio State to get a player like Downs to come to OSU. And remember, this was on the heels of a lot of guys on that defense that decided to forgo entering the NFL Draft and return to Columbus. And now, you add one of the best defensive players in the country to a defense that was already going to be one of the best defenses in America.
So, how has this all happened so quickly for Ohio State?
For the last month, Ryan Day has fully committed to fundraising and boosting the program’s NIL efforts to retain his own players. Think about all the guys returning: TreVeyon Henderson, Emeka Egbuka, JT Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, Denzel Burke, and the list goes on. That costs a lot of money.
The thing about this is, there was a bit of a necessity for Day to do this. Why? Ohio State was in a transition period with a new president coming in, a new athletic director coming in, and that void was filled by Day. He knows they are close and need a plan to move forward and achieve the objective. He is doing what really good coaches do – reevaluate and form a plan. He knows he needs to get more resources. And he goes and does that.
There was a sector of the fan base that felt Ohio State needed to change directions and get rid of Day after he lost to Michigan this season. Are you aware of what’s going on right now in college football when you make a change? It’s chaotic. You cannot change coaches in new-age college football without essentially all hell breaking loose on your roster. Because of the agency and the autoimmunity these players have to move, there are no guarantees that everything is going to work out.
So here we are, the 2023 season comes to a close, and heading into next year, the Buckeyes have one of the most talented rosters in college football. Day works hard to retain some of those guys who could have gone to the NFL Draft, and then, as opportunities arise, he can spot transfer portal players that he can now go out and get with some of those resources.
Did Michigan winning the national title fuel Ohio State’s offseason success?
In addition to bringing in Downs and Sayin, Ohio State has also landed former Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins, who was the best running back in the SEC this past season. They landed Will Howard, a QB from Kansas State who has won a Big 12 championship, and Seth McLaughlin, the starting center for Alabama.
The Buckeyes have absolutely loaded up in the portal this offseason. Now, all of a sudden, they are building something at Ohio State. They took a look at what their rivals, the Michigan Wolverines, did this season, and they said, “We need to make changes.” And they did that with one ultimate goal in mind.
Winning a national championship.
Joel Klatt is FOX Sports’ lead college football game analyst and the host of the podcast “The Joel Klatt Show.” Follow him on X/Twitter at @joelklatt and subscribe to the “Joel Klatt Show” on YouTube.
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