Ohio State football: Buckeyes coach Ryan Day talks Rose Bowl, possible opt outs, transfers

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day watches warm ups before an NCAA college football game against Rutgers, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Piscataway, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

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Ohio State head coach Ryan Day watches warm ups before an NCAA college football game against Rutgers, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Piscataway, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

Ohio State’s 132nd football season will end where 15 have previously: Pasadena, Calif.

The Buckeyes finished sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings, making them the choice of the Rose Bowl after Michigan was picked for the CFP. Ohio State (10-2) will face Pac-12 champ Utah (10-3) in the Rose Bowl at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Day.

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Ohio State coach Ryan Day had that and more to talk about Sunday afternoon, his first media appearance since a humlbing 42-27 loss at Michigan on Nov. 27:

1. He does not know much about Utah yet.

The 11th-ranked Utes have won six in a row. The Utes beat Oregon 38-10 in the Pac 12 Championship Game on Friday night to earn their first Rose Bowl bid. Dunbar grad Tavion Thomas is their leading rusher with 1,041 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. Thomas had a pair of TDs Friday night.

Day said he has not watched the Utes yet but knows fellow Urban Meyer disciple Kyle Whittingham runs a strong program.

“I know he took over for Coach Meyer (in 2005) and has been there ever since,” said Day, who replaced Meyer at Ohio State almost three years ago. “What a tremendous feat that is in itself in today’s day and age to be somewhere that long. He’s won a lot of games there, and I’ve met him several times. A real gentleman, a real professional and a very good coach.”

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2. Right now he does not see any players opting out.

Reaching the Rose Bowl was once the only goal Big Ten teams had at the start of a season, but this year the Buckeyes are heading west without a conference title or a chance to win the national championship.

While players looking to start preparation for the NFL draft have made a habit of skipping such games in recent years, Day said at this point he does not anticipate any Buckeyes doing that.

“I think the goal here is to win championships,” Day said. “That’s the goal we have year in and year out, and we didn’t reach that goal. However, we have an opportunity to go play in a very traditional rich Rose Bowl and that means a lot. It’s a new years six bowl and the 16th time Ohio State has been in the Rose Bowl, so there’s a lot of tradition has led up to that. And I know that you know our guys are going to want to play hard to win that game.”

3. His first week as coach of the Buckeyes after a loss to Michigan was hard.

“You know, the rivalry game is a rivalry game for a reason,” Day said. “It means a lot to a lot of people so when we don’t win, there’s a tremendous amount of pain — and nobody knows that more than the players and coaches here. It’s hard to swallow. You can’t just move on after one day — it just doesn’t work that way. Like I said in the postgame press conference, it’s gonna leave a mark and it’s gonna hurt for a while.”

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4. Quinn Ewers’ decision to transfer caught him somewhat by surprise.

Ewers was the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2022 until he decided to skip his senior season of high school and enroll at Ohio State in August.

After playing two snaps in one game, he has decided to leave the program.

“Yeah, I’d rather not get into too many details, but yeah, it kind of caught me a little bit for sure,” Day said.

Day also offered well wishes for Craig Young, a sophomore linebacker who entered the transfer portal in the past week.

5. Day offered congratulations to Cincinnati and head coach Luke Fickell for making the playoff.

The Buckeye State will be represented in the postseason games that count by the Cincinnati Bearcats, who are ranked No. 4 and will play Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.

“He’s done a great job, and we have nothing but a tremendous amount of respect for what they’ve done,” Day said of the 13-0 Bearcats. “Congratulations to them. It’s not easy to go that far undefeated. To bring that week in and week out is tremendous, and we wish them nothing but the best of luck in the playoff.”

ROSE BOWL

Jan. 1, 2022

Utah vs. Ohio State, 5 p.m., ESPN, 1410

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