Ohio State Buckeyes: Unexpected weekend off gives Ryan Day something else to worry about

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day no longer has to worry about Maryland this weekend.

He does have to be concerned about COVID-19 — even more than usual.

“I would be worried even if we were going to Maryland, but now we have more free time on our hands, and anytime that happens you certainly get more more concerned,” Day said.

The implication: Whether idle hands really are the tool of the devil, empty Saturday nights on campus could be a breeding ground for coronavirus.

After months of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and shunning social life, could the temptation prove too great for a player this weekend?

If so, the chances of the coronavirus making it into the Woody Hayes Athletic Center could rise exponentially.

“So we hammered it home yesterday,” Day said. “I mean (this game being canceled) couldn’t be any more reminder of where we’re at in this whole thing. It’s the first time we’ve really been affected by it — through no fault of our own — but this is kind of the way it goes.”

First and foremost, Day and his team wanted to play the Terrapins on Saturday.

Every game every season is precious to players who now spend all year working on football but only get to do the fun part — play games — a quarter of the year.

That is even more true this year with the regular season cut by a quarter to nine games (including championship week, in which all teams are scheduled to play) from 12.

So not getting to play a game — the Big Ten’s revamped schedule does not have open weeks, so the game is considered a no contest — is painful for Day and his players, but they hope it is just one blip on the way to successfully finishing the campaign.

“Yeah, this is going to be difficult here moving forward,” Day said. “We’re just going to continually make sacrifices — and we’ve done that — but at any moment it can turn sideways. We’ve got to stay on it. It’s got to be really, really important, and really the No. 1 thing we think about when we wake up in the morning.”

The Buckeyes are far from the only team to experience COVID cancelations.

More than a dozen games have been postponed this weekend, including four in the SEC.

The Pac-12, which only started its season last week, had multiple games canceled this week with the status of others in flux as of Friday afternoon.

The Associated Press reported Thursday as of that time 58 games had been postponed or canceled since revised schedules were set in late August, and more than a third of schedule changes (21) occurred in the past two weeks.

More than half of those games have been made up or rescheduled, but leagues are running out of open dates to move them to with conference championship games set for the weekend of Dec. 19 and the College Football Playoff committee intending to select its field Dec. 20.

What happens between now and then remains to be seen, but Ohio State hopes to be able to play five football games.

Day admitted being surprised at how quickly Ohio State went from playing Maryland to playing no one this week then acknowledged maybe he shouldn’t have been caught off guard.

The Terrapins called off the game despite, according to numbers the school provided, not exceeding the Big Ten’s established limit of a 7.5-percent positivity to continue football activity.

“I guess that’s on me,” he said. "I shouldn’t be surprised of anything that happens now, but we knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to have over a 7.5 positivity rate in your program. We thought it was a pretty high number, and we also knew that there were going to be other factors at play — state and local officials, public health, school presidents, team doctors — that were going to weigh in in these type situations, so we know it’s not perfect.

“We understood that coming in, but it doesn’t make it any easier to go through this. I mean, it’s hard. So knowing that it’s not going to be perfect but trying to figure out a way to make it happen is where we’re at.”

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