Ohio State's 2018 season, one headlined by a 13-1 record punctuated with a Rose Bowl win on New Year's Day over Pac-12 champion Washington, is still fresh on the minds of Buckeyes fans, namely about the retirement of Urban Meyer as head coach. Among college football's all-time great head coaches, Meyer leaves behind a legacy of winning that will be challenging for his successor, Ryan Day, to equal. Throw in the losses of early NFL departures such as Nick Bosa, Dwayne Haskins, Dre'Mont Jones, and Mike Weber, and it would make sense that Ohio State fans could be looking at the upcoming 2019 season with uncertainty.
Better think again.
Even with the player losses, yes, even with the loss of Meyer, this Ohio State team is loaded with talent, and should be in the conversation again as a possible College Football Playoff contender. Below are three reasons why Ohio State fans should feel good about 2019.
1. Ryan Day's offense will continue to flourish
The loss of quarterback Dwayne Haskins is significant. To expect any school to be able to withstand the loss of a Heisman Trophy finalist who shattered numerous school records without any step back would be a mistake. Fortunately for Ohio State, the architect who designed the offense is still around, albeit in a different role. Day's imprint upon the Ohio State offense was dramatic, as evidenced by the seasons former Buckeyes J.T. Barrett (2017) and Haskins had, and was a considerable aspect for his ascension from offensive coordinator to head coach. Day has hired former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich as the new passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Between Day, Yurcich, and Kevin Wilson, who is staying on as the offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, Ohio State will continue to put up points, no matter who emerges as the new quarterback.
2. Ohio State's defense will improve
New defensive coaches on the Buckeyes' staff include Greg Mattison, Al Washington, Jeff Hafley, and Matt Barnes. Mattison and Washington were hired from "That Team Up North" (gasp!), Barnes from Maryland, and Hafley returns to college football after a three-year stint with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.
Ohio State returns a tremendous amount of depth along its defensive line and in the linebacking corps, and the defense overall will have much more experience, with potentially nine starters returning. With a probable scheme overhaul by the new defensive staff, look for the Buckeyes' defense to rebound from a frustrating 2018 season.
3. No more drama
This season was as full of drama as any popular daytime soap opera. Even before the season began, Ohio State was embroiled in the controversy surrounding former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, which ensnared Meyer in a three-week suspension. Nick Bosa was lost for the season after the third game, and declared early for the 2019 NFL Draft. Ohio State struggled on both sides of the ball in the middle of the season, culminating in an embarrassing 49-20 loss at Purdue that factored into not getting into the College Football Playoff. Last, and certainly not least, Meyer's increasing complications due to an arachnoid cyst became were severe enough to cause him to retire.
No more. Day comes into 2019 as the new head coach, with no baggage or off-the-field issues plaguing him or the program. Sure, Day has not yet truly been tested as a rookie head coach, but it is a welcome addition after the 2018 roller coaster of events that circled the Ohio State program.