Ohio State’s Ryan Day’s reprieve could expire after Michigan’s second straight bludgeoning

The clock officially started ticking on Ryan Day. A warmth is spreading on his seat. That’s what happens in Ohio State when, a few hours after standing on the precipice of a likely Big Ten championship and college football playoff berth, fans and administrators watch the No. 2 Buckeyes are outplayed by their main rival for a second straight season in one of college football’s most closely fought regular season games.

That’s what happens when Michigan No. 3 overtakes you at almost every stage of the game, and overtakes you badly in the process. The Buckeyes fell to hated team Up North 45-23 and extended a 20-17 halftime lead to lose The Game in Columbus, Ohio for the first time since 2000.

When Day decided to stab in fourth and sixth place in Plus Territory, Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines accepted a challenge from a Buckeyes who challenged them to throw the ball to throw the ball. By the time the dust settled, Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy had been throwing touchdown passes for 45, 69, and 75 yards. He outplayed Heisman Trophy hopeful Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, and the Wolverines somehow overtook the Buckeyes 252-143 despite beating their own Heisman contender in running back Blake Corum.

It is the first time Ohio State has lost a consecutive game to Michigan since the turn of the century (1999-2000). It’s also the second straight season that the Buckeyes haven’t even played for, let alone win, a Big Ten title.

There are three main goals in Ohio State: beat Michigan, win the Big Ten, and compete for a national championship.

Well, Ohio State fans aren’t unreasonable. At least they are no more unreasonable than other fan communities spoiled by success. If the Buckeyes don’t win the national title in a given season, that might not be ideal, but it’s understandable as long as they meet the other goals.

Day no longer achieves any of these goals. With the recent loss to Michigan, he is now 2-1 in his career against the Wolverines as Ohio State coach and has not won the Big Ten since the 2020 COVID-19 season.

That’s why Day is going into the 2023 season pressure mounting. His seat may not be on fire, but whatever you want to call it, Day will indeed be in the hot seat.

It seems crazy to think that a coach who’s 45-5 in four seasons could get into anything similar trouble — and you would think so — but that’s college football we’re talking about. It’s not a sport known for using common sense logic and reason.

College football is a sport that gives a coach a massive extension after a good season, only to see his tenure fall apart over the next year as a massive buyout suddenly has to be paid for. It’s a sport where a coach wins a national title, only to turn around two years later and fire that same coach when the right people decide they don’t believe in him anymore.

Losing to Michigan by 15 points one season and 22 points the next — when you’ve played every game with teams that are widely considered more talented — is the kind of result that gets the right people deciding that they no longer believe in you.

After last season’s losses to Oregon and Michigan, Day had an easy scapegoat. Defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs paid the price for a game plan that was deemed too predictable and easy to exploit. He was fired, and the state of Ohio backed the Brinks truck to steal Jim Knowles from the state of Oklahoma. Knowles, who despite questions in the secondary brought in a new defense that was outstanding for most of the season.

On Saturday, Michigan repeatedly asked these questions, similar to what Penn State and Maryland had done in the weeks before. However, don’t expect Knowles to become a scapegoat like Coombs. He drastically improved Ohio State’s defenses across the board. Also, it wasn’t Knowles’ defense that was held to three points in the second half despite deploying an offense full of future first-round NFL draft picks.

And Ohio State doesn’t have an offensive coordinator to take Day’s downfall this time.

Because of this, Day 2023 will be ascending from his seat with some degree of heat. His job might not be in jeopardy right now, but a third straight loss to Michigan would certainly tagger.

The (next) game is 362 days away and the clock is ticking.