The last time Columbus, Ohio lived through a calendar year without Buckeye football, Grover Cleveland was President. That was 1889. Now, 133 years later, COVID-19 has put football on the shelf for 2020. The Big Ten made it official Tuesday, voting to postpone the season until the spring. The Pac 12 followed suit but the Big 12, SEC and ACC are currently planning to move forward with a season.
"This is an incredibly sad day for our student-athletes who have worked so hard and been so vigilant fighting against this pandemic to get this close to their season," Athletics Director Gene Smith said in a statement released by Ohio State. "My heart aches for them and their families."
Smith and Ohio State President-elect Kristina Johnson were pushing for delaying the start of the fall season, but not cancelling it. Buckeye football coach Ryan Day, high profile Buckeye players including quarterback Justin Fields, as well as other Big Ten coaches and players had been lobbying for a fall season as well, but in the end, lost out to the decision made by the Big Ten council of Presidents and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren.
It didn't take long for the reaction to come in from Buckeye players and staff members following the Big Ten's decision to pull the plug. As you might expect, it was not positive. While the league hopes to play football in the spring, former Buckeye coach Urban Meyer is skeptical. In an appearance on the Big Ten Network, Meyer gave the idea of football in the spring "no chance" of working.
So what's next for the Buckeyes? Smith shot down the idea that Ohio State would look to join another conference this fall. He says his focus is on finding a way to make spring football work. It's hard to imagine that Fields, Shaun Wade, Wyatt Davis, Chris Olave and others, would suit up knowing they are likely to be high NFL draft choices. In the short term, Ohio State says it is still trying to determine what fall workouts and training regimens will look like but they are allowing players to have access to the Woody Hayes Facility, where they can continue to train.