May 20, 2024

Two weeks after the completion of an 11-1 regular season and earning a bid to the Cotton Bowl to face a top-10 Missouri squad, 12 Ohio State Buckeyes — including starting quarterback Kyle McCord and wideout Julian Fleming — entered the transfer portal on the same day it opened.

That’s unusual.

This is a program that has won at least 11 games in 11 of the last 12 years — 7-1 in 2020. It’s had five Heisman finalists in the past six years and 31 All-Americans in the last decade. The sense that a program with that kind of pedigree would be reeling could only be true at a place like Ohio State, where winning national titles is expected, but beating Michigan is the standard.

While the Buckeyes haven’t won a national title since 2014, they could always count on beating Michigan. And they did for the better part of a decade.

Since 2021, though, Ryan Day has lost three consecutive editions of The Game. What’s more? This latest loss was followed by a third Big Ten title for Michigan in as many years. Even worse? Georgia’s loss in the SEC title game made way for Michigan to be crowned the No. 1 team in the country.

That ranking — No. 1 — belonged to the Buckeyes when the College Football Playoff selection committee debuted its 2023 rankings back on Oct. 31.

And it’s not just that Michigan was ranked No. 1 in the CFP ranking for the first time since its inception 10 years ago. It’s also that Michigan is ranked No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time since it last won a share of the national title — in 1997.

Day, whose coaching record is a pristine 56-7, understands better than most that his winning percentage doesn’t mean diddly-squat to Buckeye fans who’ve seen him lose three straight to That Team Up North. And he’s acting accordingly.

Ohio State impacted by transfer portal: What’s next for Ryan Day?

When it comes to the departure of McCord, either the quarterback was told he’d again have to compete for the job he thought he’d won in August, or that the Buckeyes were going to bring in a QB from the portal — or both.

Only he knows his reasons. But the fact is, he decided to drop his name in the hopper, spin it around, and hope to hit the PowerBall.

For Buckeye fans, this month of preparation for Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholz is crucial. If one or the other starts, we learn something. If one or the other goes for 300 passing, 100 rushing, and six TDs against Missouri, we learn something else.

Transfer portal QB tiers: Kyle McCord, Dillon Gabriel and more

For now, the job is Brown’s to lose. He’s been in the system longer than Kienholz and has played meaningful snaps as a Buckeye. McCord could return and get back into the mix, but that seems unlikely at this point.

What’s more likely is that Day finds some competition for Brown and Kienholz in the portal. There are plenty of options out there, including signal-callers with winning pedigrees.

One clear thing is that Day realized he couldn’t keep doing things the same way. He needed to mix things up.

And so here we are with a mini-exodus from Columbus into the portal, including the starting quarterback. Change is coming.

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