The Mailbox: Reader questions whether Fields received proper medical care

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields missed only one play after being speared in the ribs by Clemson linebacker James Skalski in the second quarter of the Sugar Bowl.

Ray: I have been an avid follower of Ohio State football for some 80 years. I rank the performance of Justin Fields after taking that hit as the very best ever by a Buckeye. And the win over Clemson is one of the best ever -- a euphoric night that will not be forgotten. 

But I am concerned about reports that Fields was not X-rayed at halftime and that he was not given a medical diagnosis. Who examined Fields and what was found? 

 A blow to the ribs can have serious consequences. Blood can accumulate in the chest cavity. The lungs can be punctured. The medical decision on whether to play should not be left to a young man determined to prove himself.

What’s the whole story here? 

Herb Brown, Columbus 

Herb: For one thing, telling the whole story about injuries or illness is not really a thing for Ohio State, which generally doesn't necessarily care if its fans are well-informed fans. That said, I’m guessing Fields got a pretty good once-over from the medical staff before they let him back out there. And he seemed less bothered as the game went on. 

Mr. Stein: Please create a new buckeye leaves reward category: The O-line won that game (Friday) night! They had to overcome a missing starter, several injuries during the game, pass protection for an injured quarterback who was told not to run after the targeting, running lanes for Sermon. 

And what about key minutes by Miyan Williams and the rebirth of the tight end and Sevyn Banks’ tight coverage? And for that matter, how about the stamina of the D-line? 

Your sports writing staff is too focused on social media reporting instead of capturing informative game details. Please tell the game story. 

Regarding the television coverage, did anyone notice that the fans of three CFP teams showed diligence in wearing masks, but Alabama fans showed no responsibility? 

Daniel Finn, Worthington 

Daniel: You’ve given me a lot to consider but I’m not sure I see anything for a new Bottom Line category. For sure, though, the Buckeyes had some unsung heroes, which is always the case in big wins. As for OSU tight ends, getting to see big games for them are like spotting a shooting star. 

Editor: Hey, Da-Boo. How does it feel getting a football shoved down your throat by an 11th-ranked team? Tell me, does crow taste like chicken? 

Larry Cole, via email 

Larry: You know, I know what Dabo was saying. And his point is not invalid. Just unnecessary. 

Ray: Looking forward to the Monday, Jan. 11 and Tuesday, Jan. 12 OSU-Alabama championship game. 

Can’t wait for the hundred-plus commercials and 40 or so official reviews of plays. Should be a scintillating 4½ hours of nonstop inaction. 

Thad Woodman, Westerville 

Thad: I can accept a long game if it’s exciting, like the Sugar Bowl was. That Alabama-Notre Dame game, on the other hand, was like watching torture. 

Editor: My OSU-Clemson postgame commentary in the form of a little poem: 

The Dabo Dumbo Chronicles (Let’s rename the poem “TWELFTH NIGHT”). 

Dabo Dumbo the Clemson brain trust 

Said the Buckeyes don’t belong. 

“They only played 6 games” he said 

“Correct me if I’m wrong”! 

“It’s not that they’re not good” 

He said, to us, and to himself. 

So if the Bucks are ranked 11th, Dabo, 

You surely must be 12fth! 

So go home now Dabo, and please don’t speak 

We no longer wish to hear you 

Your words are hollow, little man 

And we certainly do not fear you 

So Dear Dabo to conclude 

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen 

Good night! 

Thanks for the extra motivation 

To kick your a** tonight 


Dave Heinmiller, Columbus 

Ray: Why do so many Blue Jackets demand a trade after negotiating their RFR contract with Jarmo Kekalainen? 

Brent D. Rosenthal, Westerville 

Editor: Red Right 88, the Drive, the Fumble part 1 and the Fumble part 2. How can this keep happening to this franchise? 

Folks are asking, with two premier running backs why is Baker Mayfield trying to pick up a yard inside the 5-yard line? It worked two other times in this game. The Jets were waiting for it this time. 

It is difficult to blame it all on Baker. What the Browns went through the previous 48 hours is likely to blame. The fumble cannot be advanced except by the fumbler. We can call it the Dave Casper rule. The Raiders purposely fumbled into the end zone to get the touchdown. So the NFL in a knee-jerk reaction cried foul. 

That is why when Kareem Hunt recovered the fumble even though the Browns had the first-down yardage it turned the ball over to the Jets. 

Lenny Palma, Columbus 

Ray: How is it the Cleveland Browns, who found out shortly before boarding a plane last Saturday afternoon, headed to New Jersey for Sunday’s game against the Jets, that four receivers and two linebackers would not be eligible due to COVID-19 issues, then Sunday morning discovered their starting left tackle would miss the game as well, would come out throwing the ball nearly every down despite being the third best rushing offense? I believe they ran the ball two times for zero yards in the first half. 

Making the game plan even more bizarre is that their flight was delayed four hours because of virus testing, which kept the team from having a walk-through practice that night inside the stadium, thus having to do so in a parking lot near their hotel before the game, hoping to get four new receivers up to speed with Baker Mayfield. 

I’m no head coach, nor offensive coordinator, but if were one, in that situation of having four wideouts fresh off the practice squad and with the league’s third-best rushing attack, I think I would have come out and established the run from the get-go. Yet, coach Kevin Stefanski did just the opposite, with Mayfield throwing the ball 53 times. 

Steven H. Spring, South Charleston 

Ray: A wise man once said “it is what it is.” On the heels of the revelation that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney ranked OSU as the 11th-best team in the nation, quite predictably Buckeye Nation heads exploded in outrage. 

But the fact that none of the other coaches place OSU nearly that low lends credence to the idea that Swinney’s views represent a minority view. That said, before we all pile on it’s worth considering Swinney’s rationale, which is basically that it is impossible for a team that played 11 or 12 games to be viewed the same as a team that played six games. 

OSU supporters maintain that regardless of whether OSU played six or eight or 11 games, their stats and performance speaks for itself and they belong in the top four. 

To that I simply ask, “How low can you go?” What if OSU only played five games?  Four games? If they played only three games, should they still be ranked third in the nation? 

Team records are team records; one cannot argue W’s and L’s. What one can argue is whether a 6-0 team should be evaluated on the same plane as an 11-0 one even an 11-1 team. Does size matter? 

Chris Dalheim, Galena 

Ray: With the NCAA ruling that this year won’t count against anyone’s eligibility, how is that going to affect scholarship limits? Will those using an extra year not be counted against that limit and will this be increasing the number of scholarship athletes on a team for the next five years? 

It seems with current older players sticking around longer, current high-schoolers hoping to get on the field soon just got knocked down a notch for the next few years. 

Dennis Singleton, Dayton 

Mr. Stein: In a way, it’s too bad that Ohio State and Michigan won’t be able to play this year in a bowl game as you, perhaps half-jokingly, had encouragingly suggested in this forum a couple of weeks ago. (“I mean, it’s 2020, after all.”) Perhaps we could have called it The Game Bowl. I guess another shot at a national title, however, is an OK substitute. 

But I wonder: Since neither Ohio State nor Michigan scored against each other this year, will the year-by-year scores list in the rivalry show 2020 as “Ohio State 0, Michigan 0”? Some fans 30 years from now no doubt would swear that they were there and witnessed it. 

Keith Robinson, Fairfield Glade, Tenn. 

Editor: Will Woody’s Curse prevail and Bucks go 0 for 5 against Clemson? Just ask TTUN about curses. 

Dare the Bucks risk playing Clemson with half the games, and the “I told you so” do ill reputable harm to the OSU brand? 

CFP viewership is way down, but of course three-fifths of the nation is tired of the Clemson/Alabama same old, same old. 

The new league, Big Ten/Big 12/Pac-12, should play their own playoff tournament; it’s got to be more exciting. 

If not the CFP is heading to the same ole graveyard as the BCS and all that came before it. 

Jesse James, Dublin 

Editor: I’ve heard enough! Dabo Whiny keeps running his mouth and telling the rest of college football how to run their programs. He berates the Big Ten and Pac-12 for putting the welfare of their staff and players first while beating his chest and chanting the virtues of the big and bad Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences. 

He actually questions the heart and bravery of anyone that does not march to the beat of his self-appointed drum. He acts like the high standards that they have at Clemson have enabled them to beat the pandemic! I’ve got news for you, coach, nobody beats the virus, and anybody who thinks they have is a fool. 

It is my hope that we are able to put 2020 behind us and start the new year by going down to the Sugar Bowl and hanging a hundred points on Coach Whiny. He needs to be taught a lesson in humility. He needs to be reminded that sports promise to deliver lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play. 

We need to remember who we are. We need to take their heart. Run at their strength. Hammer away, again, again, and again. Don’t let up. Don’t let them breathe. Take from them what they think makes them great. 

I promise you, that's the way you win ballgames. 

When we win, come back home to us. We will cheer for you and Thank God you are safe. Let the rest of America decide who is No. 1. Let Alabama have it if they want. Who wants a national championship that will always have an asterisk beside it? We’ll know who the real winners are, WE ARE OHIO STATE! 

Robert Haver, via email 

Editor: I’d been thinking along Rob Oller’s lines for a while, so after reading his column I came up with the beginnings of my thoughts on the subject. Please keep in mind that, like his thoughts as delineated, mine may be incomplete or subject to reimagining. So, here is my suggestion: 

Existing conferences would all be abandoned. A new “Super Conference” and two lesser conferences would be formed. (A different conference name could be used, perhaps “The Big Money Conference.”) 

Initially, teams would be chosen by balancing historically high-performing programs with programs that “turn on the most TV sets.” Revenues would not be shared equally among the teams but instead by each team’s rolling five-year average viewership. 

There would be a similar realignment for basketball, with teams selected for new conference levels that are disassociated from the football alignment. So, colleges could be in the highest level for one sport but in a lower level for the other sport. Because there are more Division I teams in basketball, the number in each conference level would be greater, with perhaps 96 teams in each level. Other collegiate nonrevenue sports would be governed by a separate system, maybe even by the remnants of the NCAA. 

In the football Super Conference, there would be 48 teams in eight divisions comprised of six teams each. Teams would play all five division teams (with rivalries and geography influencing division members) and seven inter-division games. There would be no games outside the conference level. 

A playoff would have 16 teams play for the championship. These 16 would be the first and second place teams in each division. So poll voting, though it may still occur, would be moot. The next 24 non-playoff teams would be matched up for one postseason “bowl” game. 

In what may be the most controversial part of this arrangement, the lowest eight teams (two per division) would be matched up in a “relegation playout tournament” with the four losers relegated down to the next level conference (ala European soccer leagues). This is the method that would incentivize programs to compete at as high a level as they reasonably can, given their economic status and academic value system. 

There should be interest in these games not only by their own fans but also by the general college football fan. Just as there is great interest in who the “best” teams are I feel that there might be a significant interest is seeing who the “biggest losers” may be. 

 There would be two lesser conferences. The “AAA” conference would have another 48 teams. They would play a similar type of schedule, playoff and playout (I like my new word!). The four semifinal teams would move up to the Super Conference to replace the four relegated teams (Imagine the partying on those campuses). 

Since there may not be enough revenue generation to support “bowl” games for the non-playoff and playout teams, 24 teams may end their seasons at the end of the regular season. There would be a relegation playout to “AA”. If there are currently 130 Division I programs there would be a “AA” level conference of 34 teams. This number would change as the number of programs rises or falls. 

Where I think it might be fun for your readers (besides calling this the most impossible or asinine ideas in the history of ideas) would be the selection of the initial 48 teams in the Super Conference. I can imagine a great deal of argument about interconference strength and intraconference strength. 

SEC fans will probably put forth that all 16 teams in the SEC obviously should be in the best conference. Big Ten fans would argue that obviously all 14 teams turn on the most TVs so should all be in. 

That’s all I have for a start. I agree with you that changes are needed. I also note that with the damage done by COVID to athletic department funds, revenues have never been more important. 

Steve King, Columbus 

Ray: I have waited a long time to write to you. However, when is the sports world going to recognize those of us over 60? We have been loyal ticket holders, provided athletes for your sports, bought your overpriced sports items, listened to your ads and bought the cereal, soup, cars, etc. 

Now it is your (the sports world’s, not yours personally) turn to do something for the older Americans. What is it, you ask? Start having the most important sporting games earlier than 8:45 at night. To people 60 and older, it might as well start at 11 p.m. 

What did your parents do at 9 or 10 at night? They read a book and fell asleep (I rest my case). When we go out, we want to be home by 9 p.m., not start at 9 p.m. The Ohio State and the school that still has pom-pom girls will play at 8:45 and finish at 11 plus, a time when few of us will still be awake. 

They are not doing it for the West Coast audience because they don’t play football anymore. Let’s start anew in 2021 and listen to seniors (this week we are still a large segment of sports watching populace). Next week? 

Advertisers and sports teams, never have major sporting events start after 7 p.m. Then we will at least see the first half! To those under 60, you can party after the game instead of only before! I rest my (yawn) case. 

Alan Butterbaugh, Canal Winchester