Ryan Day is slowly getting over Ohio State’s heartbreaking loss in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
“As opposed to every second, (now it’s) every other second,” the Buckeyes’ coach said Wednesday afternoon in his first availability with reporters since the Fiesta Bowl. “It’s going to stay fresh in our minds.”
He wants it to. He watched on television as former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow led LSU over Clemson on Monday for the national championship.
“It was hard to watch,” Day said. “I’m not going to lie.”
He told his players he wanted them to watch the game, as well, and not just out of affection and admiration for Burrow. Day figures the feeling that the Buckeyes should have been there should remain fresh in their minds and motivate them for next year.
Day said he has “moved on” from the anger he felt after the Fiesta Bowl. He said after watching the game on video that the Buckeyes fell short in several ways that could have changed the outcome.
Listen to the BuckeyeXtra Football podcast:
But Day also doesn’t want the 2019 team’s accomplishments to be overlooked. It was a special season, even if the final goal was not attained.
“When you go 13-1 and win the Big Ten and win your rivalry game (against Michigan), that’s a helluva season,” he said.
The Buckeyes are expected to contend for the national title again next season, with the return of quarterback Justin Fields a major reason. Day had mostly downplayed Fields’ sprained knee late in the year. On Wednesday, Day said that the injury, sustained at the end of the Penn State game, limited Fields’ ability to practice, especially before the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin.
“It’s a tribute to how tough he is,” Day said.
As for how healthy Fields was against Clemson, Day said, “It wasn’t something that was catastrophic, but he wasn’t 100 percent.”
Day declined to say whether Fields needed a procedure on his knee but said the injury shouldn’t affect him in the future.
Day also declined to address reporting that former Buckeyes assistant coach Kerry Coombs would return as defensive co-coordinator Jeff Hafley’s replacement. Coombs is secondary coach for the Tennessee Titans, who play in the AFC championship game on Sunday.