After a hard-fought battle for the Big Ten Conference championship in Lucas Oil stadium Saturday night, the Michigan State football team took down the No. 2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, winning their first outright Big Ten Conference title in 26 years and crushing the Buckeyes’ hopes to go undefeated for two consecutive seasons.
Two things are for certain now that the dust has settled in Indianapolis — the Buckeyes are officially out of the national title picture, and the Spartans will compete for a Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. The Spartans, led by a spectacular defense, held the Braxton Miller-lead offense to a season low 24 points and 374 total yards. Following the tough loss, I couldn’t help but wonder why the guys suited up in scarlet and gray uniforms hadn’t played just as good as the Spartans have played on the defensive side of the ball over the last few years. Then I began to question their leadership and the amount of talented players they had picked up over the last four seasons. After all of the questioning was set aside and a little research was conducted, I have determined that defensive coordinator Luke Fickell should officially be let go.
I know, I know, Fickell is an OSU guy; the man has been a part of the university for years. Setting a school-record 50 consecutive starts at the nose guard position in the mid 90’s, the Columbus, OH native knows what it’s like to bleed scarlet and gray, but the man simply isn’t getting the job done. Over the last few seasons, the defense has been mediocre at best. From giving up 49 points to a below average Indiana Hoosiers offense in 2012, to allowing Michigan’s Devin Gardner to pass for 451 yards and four touchdowns a couple of games ago, the defense hasn’t played at a championship level under Fickell whatsoever, and it showed in Indianapolis Saturday night. If you think that the Buckeyes don’t have the same amount of talent as the past few championship-winning teams, think again.
According to 247sports.com, Ohio State has picked up 34 defensive recruits that were four star prospects or better coming out of high school over the last four seasons. You know how many four or five star recruits two-time defending national champion Alabama has picked in that same time frame? The answer is 32. To say that the Buckeyes have played sloppy on that side of the ball would certainly be an understatement. The most points an Ohio State defense has given up in a single season is 297, which took place in the 1989 season under defensive coordinator Bill Young, as the Buckeyes managed to come away with just eight wins on the year. Under Fickell, the silver bullet defense has given up a total of 277 points thus far in the 2013 season, and they still have one game to go. Therefore, the team is just three touchdowns away from giving up more points than any defense in the history of the Ohio State football program; that is quite astonishing when you consider the fact that the national powerhouse has been around for 123 years now.
It’s about time Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith lets Luke Fickell go, or else more and more talent will go to waste.