The 2020 Ohio State Buckeyes football program scratched and clawed it's way into the College Football Playoff National Championship game earlier this month. After battling a delayed Big Ten season, a COVID-19 outbreak and a difficult semifinal match-up with Clemson, Ryan Day still pushed his team to the national title bout.
Once Ohio State arrived in Miami Gardens, they met one of the most talented Alabama squads to ever take the field. The Crimson Tide dominated from start to finish on Jan. 11, winning another national title, 52-24. Nick Saban captured his seventh championship ring, becoming the winningest football coach at the collegiate level.
The game gave a stark reminder to the college football world that Alabama remains the top program in the country by a size-able margin. Saban consistently brings in top recruits and turns them into pro-caliber players, capable of competing for a national championship, year in and year out. Alabama's dominance often leaves programs like Ohio State on the outside looking in.
In a post-season press conference on Friday morning, Day spoke about the perceived gap between the Crimson Tide and the rest of country. Even the Ohio State head coach acknowledged it's existence, but reminded everyone that it could've grown larger without a Big Ten season.
“The gap is a lot closer than if we had not played a season," Day said
Ryan Day on catching up with Alabama: “The gap is a lot closer than if we had not played a season. If Alabama had gone through this whole season and we had not played a season, the gap would be really hard to catch.”
— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) January 22, 2021
">per Joey Kaufman of The Columbus Dispatch. "If Alabama had gone through this whole season and we had not played a season, the gap would be really hard to catch.”
Day makes a fine point about Ohio State nearly not playing at all in 2020. However, he also still pointed out that a gap between Alabama and the Buckeyes exists, which should be cause for concern.
The Crimson Tide won't be at full strength at the start of next year, having to replace it's three best offensive weapons. Mac Jones, Najee Harris and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith will all head to the NFL, leaving Saban with question marks at all three spots. However, if any school can quickly replace and develop talent, it's Alabama.
If Ohio State and the rest of the country hope to close the gap soon, the best hope may be to wait for Saban's retirement. The Crimson Tide head coach will turn 70 during the 2021 season, so is likely nearing the end of his accomplished career.
Until then, the rest of the nation may just have to hope for an early-season fluke to sideline the Alabama powerhouse.