Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has a saying that he believes in, which is players win games.
Coaches make the money and get the credit, but it’s the players who make the plays to win the games.
Plays like Jeff Okudah and Jordan Fuller made in the third quarter Saturday night when Okudah stripped Clemson receiver Justyn Ross of the ball and then Fuller picked it up and ran it into the end zone.
A play like that is the difference between a win and a loss, so when that play was incorrectly reversed by the replay officials, they effectively dismissed Day’s assertion and laughed at his notion that players win games.
And this was well after the replay official buzzed down from on high in order to see if he could eject a Buckeye for tackling Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The fumble return would have given Ohio State a 23-21 lead and snapped Clemson’s 21-0 run since Shaun Wade’s ejection.
It would have grabbed momentum back from the Tigers at a very crucial time.
It would have proven to everyone that players win games.
Of course, that is not what happened.
Yes, Clemson’s players made plays to win games, but the difference is that those plays weren’t reversed by the cruel hands of injustice.
Ryan Day can reconcile losing games — even though he has the experience of just one loss as head coach — because players win games. Trevor Lawrence found his receivers at the end and they made plays to win the game.
If a team is bested, then they just go back to the drawing board and try to be better the next time. They decide to prepare better. To coach better. To teach and play better.
Sports is winning and losing. Both must exist.
But how do you reconcile a loss in a game where your players made plays to win the game and then those plays were stricken from the record. Or worse yet, your team was penalized for them?
In the lead-up to the game, Ryan Day said that he wasn’t ready to be done coaching this team. He was having too much fun. This group was too special to him to say goodbye.
And because of somebody up in the press box with a buzzer, one of Ohio State’s great teams is now done.
How does Ryan Day get over that?
I guess what you do now is make sure you’re never in that position again.
Players may win games, but sometimes human error can lose it. And so maybe he folds that into his plans from here on out.
Whatever you do, do your best to not allow the game to be taken away from you by somebody who isn’t even playing in the game.
Losses happen in every game, but for the first time as a head coach, a loss happened to Ryan Day.
There is no doubt it hurt, but he also spoke several times after the game of how angry he was.
He and everyone else saw a touchdown taken away. A touchdown in a game that Ohio State lost by six points.
How does Ryan Day accept that?
I’m not sure he can.
All you can do is work to never let it happen again.
Don’t put your fate in the hands of somebody who can watch something repeatedly from multiple angles at multiple speeds and still get it wrong.
I wouldn’t even allow that person to pick up my dry cleaning. There’s no telling what they would actually hand you upon their arrival.
“Here’s that Labradoodle you ordered, sir.”
“I never ordered a Labradoodle. But at least it’s wearing my suit jacket.”