The Mailbox: Great season and all ... but about that defensive scheme?

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
Ryan Day's fourth-quarter posture speaks volumes about how Ohio State's night went against Alabama on Monday in the national championship game.

In the name of tradition (except I ain’t no fiddler, and I’m not embarking onto any roof), the sports editor keeps his yap shut after an Ohio State football loss. And what a loss.

Mr. Stein: In the 2015 Sugar Bowl, Alabama was an even bigger favorite against Ohio State and led 21-6 in the second quarter. 

If Ezekiel Elliott, coming off a record-setting game against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, had broken his collarbone on the first play of the game, it isn’t difficult to imagine a stunned Ohio State losing 52-24 and the narrative that would have followed: We knew Cardale Jones wasn’t a good enough passer, Ohio State didn’t deserve to be there, etc.

Following Alabama’s blowout of the Buckeyes, the talking heads now conclude Alabama was just that much better and would have won regardless of injuries and COVID issues.  It’s a shortsighted discussion.

Alabama is great, and brought their A game on Monday night, but it’s not sour grapes to believe a full-strength Ohio State team might have yielded a different result.

However, it was sad to see Ryan Day lose his grip on the game in the second quarter.  Getting the ball when OSU was down 18 points with a 1 minute, 43 seconds left in the half and playing to kill the clock, for fear Alabama would score again, was unjustifiable.

But much like good, bad tends to snowball and can rattle the best of us. For this season to be a success, we needed to beat Clemson. We did that, resoundingly. Our fight for a season was well rewarded.

Bob Young, Columbus 

Ray: May we please have no negative letters about the Buckeyes this Sunday? I have watched OSU football for 54 years and this edition has gone through many obstacles this season and persevered. 

There is no reason to feel down about losing to Alabama; they were the better team on Monday night. However, the Bucks played hard and tough; who knows what might have been had we not lost so many members to COVID-19 and injury? 

I, for one, congratulate them and cannot wait to see the 2021 edition. 

Fausto Garofolo Jr., Columbus

Ray: Having read in Wednesday’s paper all the reasons/excuses why the Buckeyes got their nuts cracked by Alabama in the national championship game, I did not read the real reason, that being they played some obscure/outdated 4-4-3 prevent defense.

This scheme, which I assume was implemented in one week’s time, resulted in linebackers having to cover Alabama receivers 40 yards downfield. What could possibly go wrong?

Game announcers seemed to refer to the Buckeye philosophy as letting the Tide march up and down the field every possession (they finished with 621 yards), and hope on a couple of possessions they could hold them to a field goal or two.

I’m no defensive coordinator, but with Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith having 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns by halftime, I think I would have switched back to the defensive alignment the team played and practiced all season.

Steven H. Spring, South Charleston

Ray: Did anyone check the OSU coaching staff to see if they were in a COVID coma? Great defensive game plan to cover a Heisman Trophy winning receiver with a linebacker.

It was great fun watching the Big Ten, who only really makes rules for one school, be embarrassed and the clearly overmatched, overhyped OSU get punched in the mouth AGAIN!

Seemed strange to me that OSU allegedly has all these four- and five-star recruits but the two players that had the biggest impact on the last few games were transfers that were recruited at other schools.

Mickey Geslak, Galena

Editor: Three leaves for fun (Bottom Line, Wednesday)? You could have slapped a zero on that and been more accurate. Only a sadist could enjoy that spanking. 

Mark Ellis, via email 

Editor: It’s tough enough on the players that the game was lost, but did you have to add insult to injury with your headline in Wednesday’s paper (“In another league”)? 


Shere Everett, via email

Ray: I’ve only got one thing to say about last Monday night’s national championship game. “O-U.......C-H!!!” 

Thad Woodman, Westerville 

Mr. Stein: I know I often accuse the sportswriters of The Dispatch of homer journalism, but it appears your staff can write balanced columns when the Buckeyes lose. 

I do not follow sports and I graduated from Ohio University, but I do like good writing. (Wednesday’s) writing was superb. 

Even those who wanted to make some excuses because of COVID-19 restrictions or OSU injuries were also quick to point out Alabama was the better team. This type of writing is why I continue to get home delivery of The Dispatch. 

Gary L. Sigrist Jr., Grove City 

Ray: And now (drum roll) the “broadcast stats” from the 2021 national championship football game: 

It took 3½ hours from kickoff (8:15 p.m.) to final whistle (11:48 p.m.) which included: 

Two hours, 35 minutes of live game coverage and commentary; 58 minutes of paid advertising, including 137 commercial spots of 15 or 30 seconds duration; a 20-minute halftime break that carried 36 commercials totaling 14 minutes, leaving six minutes for “expert” commentary. 

Is it any wonder that watching college football (or most any sporting event on TV) really isn't much fun anymore? 

Of course, we get a lot of bathroom and refrigerator breaks as a side benefit! 

Mike Tomesek, Westerville 

Editor: I just have one question: In the college championship game, why did the OSU coach never double-team the best player on the planet, Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith? 

Michael C. Johnson, New Port Richey, Fla. 

Editor: In Wednesday's recap of the OSU-Alabama game you said Kirk Herbstreit can’t let a play go by without excessively commenting on it. I ABSOLUTELY AGREE. 

He must think he’s getting paid by the word, constantly regurgitating player’s stats: “He’s 6-3 and 250 pounds from Redneck, Texas. He’s a real athlete!” Hey, Kirk, they’re playing Division I football, they’re all exceptional athletes. 

My solution is to watch with the sound off, which is a shame because I really like Chris Fowler. I keep a keen eye on the officials. They’ll let you know what’s going on before they even announce the call. 

Herbie may be Columbus’ hometown boy but he annoys the hell out of me. 

Greg Kester, via email 

Editor: I heard the one when Herbstreit said Chris Olave “got all three feet inbounds” on a sideline catch. 

It was “Some trick!” His feet made three contacts before he went out of bounds. I think he first tapped two together and then for good measure he tapped one again. Three times what’s required in college. 

I was surprised, though, at how long it took the announcers to figure out that was an offensive lineman stretched out on the ground. 

Being a Bama fan, I enjoyed the game. 

Richard Walker, via email 

Editor: The Urban could pick up Dwayne Haskins Jr. as a backup, but I guess he doesn’t need another headache. 

Roger Butler, Pickerington 

Editor: I am shaking my head in response to the letter from David Ferriman (Mailbox, last Sunday) questioning Ryan Day’s loyalty to the Buckeyes and his wearing of black on game day. 

Has he ever noticed the group of graduate assistants in orange, blue and green shirts signaling in plays? They wear those colors so they stand out and players can easily find them when looking to the sidelines. 

Any chance the head coach wears black so he stands out and can easily be spotted in the sea of scarlet and gray? If you don’t know, now you know. 

Tim O’Leary, Columbus 

Editor: In (last) Saturday’s edition I read quotes from more than one CBJ player about trying to avoid the COVID virus while going to the grocery store. 

I know players spend a lot of time in the gym, so maybe they haven’t heard that there are now multiple options for getting groceries deliver to your door without having any contact with anyone! You can also get take-out food orders delivered. 

Saying “Well, we just can’t avoid doing these things” is true only if they don’t want to avoid them. 

Paul Burchett, Pickerington