Ryan Day defends Justin Fields, while also calling out those who opted out

CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State
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Ohio State coach Ryan Day, to his credit, has defended former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in the case of a whisper campaign that became a bear trap for ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky. In so doing, however, Day offered up unnecessary and unwarranted criticism of players who made the conscientious decision to not play in 2020, due to the pandemic.

“The whole idea that he doesn’t have a very good work ethic?” Day told Peter King for his Football Morning in America column. “I mean, to me, that’s crazy. He got done with the Clemson game [a loss in the 2019 playoffs] and he came back and all he did was work to get back to that game. And when those other guys are opting out, what’s he do? He petitions to have a season. He put together this petition that the Big Ten athletes all signed saying that they want to play, but they want to play safely and that they don’t accept canceling the season. It was all led by Justin Fields. Where was everybody else? Where were the guys who were opting out then? You know, you don’t love the game if you’re doing something like that. This kid loves the game.”

Sorry, Coach Day. But it’s possible not only to love the game but also to be concerned about catching a virus and potentially passing it to family members who may suffer a very bad outcome. While he has every right to defend Fields by touting the quarterback’s effort to save what would have been a lost season (and which, depending on Day’s contract, may have cost Day all or most of his salary), Day is wrong to suggest that opting out equates to not loving football.

“I think some people are being a little reckless with their comments,” Day told King regarding the anonymous criticism of Fields, which was fed to Orlovsky and then publicized by him. Day, ironically, was more than “a little reckless” with his own comments.

For the same reason those trashing Fields deserve to be criticized, Day deserves to be criticized for boosting Fields by trashing those who made the decision that it didn’t make sense to risk catching and/or spreading the virus by playing college football in 2020, especially since they don’t get paid to play college football.

It’s another reason why college football faces a long overdue reckoning. Until that reckoning comes, it will be permissible for everyone involved in the moneymaking machine to make decisions based on their own best personal and business interests — except for the players. When the players make a personal or business decision that leads them to choose not to play football (either for a game or for a full season), they’ll be labeled as not loving the game.

There’s just as much BS in that statement as there is in anything that anyone has said about Fields, and Day should face loud and widespread criticism for painting players who opted out in the negative way that he did.

33 responses to “Ryan Day defends Justin Fields, while also calling out those who opted out

  1. I love how part of the time it’s “just a business” that is entirely governed by money but then when it’s convenient it’s suddenly just a game again that is all about the love for the sport.

  2. A supposed sure thing QB in this draft is going to bust, but it won’t be Fields. QBs who fall apart when they get pressure never can fix that, and that wasn’t Fields. I’ll give you a hint. The guy who is going to have Urban Meyer retiring early for good after three years.

  3. Day always gives off the angry used cars salesman vibes when he doesn’t need to. Not like he coaches at Akron.

  4. The main problem for Fields is he lacks accuracy and he is an OSU QB. No to mention he was forced to transfer because Jake Fromm beat him out at Georgia because he wasn’t good enough. And, also it is not like a played that many games, look at the recent drafted QB in Chicago that only had 10 starts in college

  5. Justin Fields is by far the best QB in this draft! The Jags are making a mistake passing on him!

  6. It is unfortunate that a head coach of a premier program in College Football cannot find a way to praise Justin Fields for his play without denigrating those who took the hard decision to take a year off. Justin Fields deserves praise for his play and dedication. Those that opted out deserve the benefit of the doubt for putting family safety over their personal athletic ambitions.

  7. A coach propping up his players before the draft is no different than their agents or Mom’s. Usually don’t get a lot of negativity.

  8. Day clearly isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Opting out has nothing to do with work ethic. Wanting to play games has nothing to do with work ethic. As someone above pointed out, Haskins was rumored to have poor work ethic and those rumors proved to be absolutely correct. OSU QBs just aren’t prepared for the NFL, they are prepared for the Big 10.

  9. Did all those guys really opt out to “protect their families” or did they opt out to protect their draft position?

  10. I’m Buckeye Nation, and I can tell you that Justin Fields is by far the greatest QB to ever play for the Buckeyes. He played the position almost perfectly. He takes care of the football, puts pressure on defenses with downfield accuracy – outside the numbers or in the middle of the field, and if he breaks contain he can amass yards on the ground.

    The One-Read QB theory: Not true, but if you have Wilson and Olave your primary receive will most likely be open, and if he’s open that’s where the ball should go.

    Running QB: Justin Fields is pocket passer with the ability to run. You’re talking about a QB with a 70 completion percentage and something like 70/9 TD/INT ratio. If he was a running QB he would have 700-800 yards rushing in a season, easily. He’s so effective from the pocket that he doesn’t really have to run.

    Look if Justin Fields falls to #3 and we pick Mac Jones over him, I might have to sit the rest of the Shanahan era out. I can understand Zach Wilson because he displays the “spontaneous genius” that it takes to win in January. Those off-script plays….but not Mac Jones. Mac Jones is not a top 3 NFL prospect. There is not one elite trait that he possesses, and there is not anything tangible that you can put your money on and say that he’s going to be an elite NFL QB. You have to bet on the intangibles, and that’s insane to do so for a top 3 pick that you traded 3 first rounders and 3rd rounder for. You need prospect with more than intangibles.

    Only way I would draft Mac Jones over Justin Fields is if I was a time traveler and could travel to the year 2023 and see for myself that Mac Jones is an elite NFL QB. Other than that, I’m not drafting Mac Jones over Justin Fields. T Law, Zac Wilson, and Justin Fields are the top 3 NFL prospects. Anything else is uncivilized.

  11. I understand Ryan Day’s trying to set the record straight on Fields after what happened with Orlovsky and all of the context associated with it. Dude could’ve picked better example that didn’t insult everyone who opted out, though.

    “Where were the guys who were opting out then? You know, you don’t love the game if you’re doing something like that.” Total moron statement.

  12. They played so few games and against WHO?…
    In the biggest game in college, Fields didn’t even show up…
    The NFL is harder and tougher games against the best out of college…
    Taking Fields before the 3rd round is going to cost a team skilled player at a needed position!

  13. Ryan Day is the last person one should listen to on the future of Ohio State quarterbacks in the NFL.

  14. Antone with a personal investment is not a reliable witness. Ryan, we can’t take your word.

  15. “I’m Buckeye Nation, and I can tell you that Justin Fields is by far the greatest QB to ever play for the Buckeyes. ” Sorry, but given the lack of success of OSU QBs at the NFL level, that really doesn’t say much.

  16. wvu1714 says:
    April 5, 2021 at 11:11 am
    Did all those guys really opt out to “protect their families” or did they opt out to protect their draft position?


    Almost everyone who opted out is likely being scrutinized over it; for those who aren’t being scrutinized, they’re draft evaluation is likely taking a hit because teams don’t have film on them dating back to 2019. The idea that anyone did this to protect their draft position is moronic.

  17. I wonder you always here stories of disinformation about players that other teams are interested in to scare teams away but you never hear the opposite. You know say there is a guy out there that does have a bad work ethic of issues with character. Why not go out and brag about him so other teams move him up so you don’t have to take them. You ever wonder if that happens. Be the perfect Trojan horse. The media will never questions a positive story on anyone.

  18. I hope the top 4 picks are all QBs — it will be entertaining to compare them the next 4 years (something I’m sure Bears’ fans have really enjoyed the last 4 years).

  19. mmmpierogi says: “The idea that anyone did this to protect their draft position is moronic.”

    Absolutely agree. Out of sight, out of mind.

    We see it every year, players come out of nowhere and have a great season and vault up the draft boards. As Peter King pointed out last week, Joe Burrow would’ve been a Day 3 pick if he came out in 2019; Zack Wilson was in a three-man competition for the starting gig at BYU.

    Sitting out wouldn’t protect your draft spot, but get pushed down by rising stars that have been on weekly highlight shows all year.

  20. Think of an Ohio state QB that ever started and won a Super Bowl. Next ask yourself if you want to draft Fields….

  21. I think Fields is going to have a career similar to Cam Newton. will probably flash as a Ricky and everybody will say “why wasn’t he drafted ahead of Trevor Lawrence?” The fast forward 5 years down the line and you’re going to be a perpetual backup and everyone will see that he didn’t have what it takes to be a franchise QB

  22. “The main problem for Fields is he lacks accuracy”

    Fields is easily the most accurate passer in this draft and all the metrics support that. He has no problem putting the football on a dime and has demonstrated repeatedly. He’s certainly no less accurate than Lawrence but one is a lock to go #1 and the other keeps getting questioned over things he’s already proven many times over.

  23. “Think of an Ohio state QB that ever started and won a Super Bowl. Next ask yourself if you want to draft Fields….”


    Think of a Texas Tech QB that ever started and won a Super Bowl. Next ask yourself if you want to draft Pat Mahomes….

  24. The problem with analyzing any player at The OSU is unraveling the player from the system they play in. The Buckeyes always have very good offensive and defensive lines (and usually linebackers) who play together well in a system. It’s the pride of Columbus, it makes them who they are. As goes the lines goes the team. So as a QB playing on a team where the defense gives the ball back to the offense and keeps the opponents score low, and the OL provides oodles of time for the QB, how would Fields not look good on that team. Think about all the cruddy QB’s that have come out of that system since Urban Meyer was there: Kenny Guiton 2012-13, Braxton Miller 2012-2015, Cardale Jones 2013-2015, JT Barrett 2014-2017, Dwayne Haskins 2017-2018, and then the guy who didn’t get a fair chance to play, Jpe Burrow 2015-2017. The hype on all of these guys was way off the chart (except for Burrow). Who couldn’t play QB in this offense? I liken The OSU QB’s to their DB’s, who also don’t have to do much as the DL is putting pressure on the QB. Meyer won’t take Fields at 1. The Jets should trade out of that pick and instead get some OL and DL help (it’s not sexy, but it’s not throwing a pick away).

  25. If he is so good, how come Urban Meyer is unlikely to pick him number 1 overall. Any team that takes him #2 or 3 overall is taking a big risk.

  26. I think Mac Jones is wired like an elite QB, and can become an elite QB in the right situation. I just wouldn’t bet 3 first round picks on it: There’s not anything tangible elite trait that I can bet on.

    There’s only one person that knows if Mac Jones is going to be an elite NFL QB, and that’s the man himself – Mac Jones.

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