While there have been plenty of challenges the Buckeyes have face over the past three years, from off-the-field issues to subjective Playoff Committees, THE single biggest factor standing between the Buckeyes and the chance to play for a National Championship has been their inconsistent defense.
More specifically, three humiliating big losses against Clemson (2016), Iowa (2017) and Purdue (2018). The Oklahoma loss last year was fairly embarrassing, but for our purposes here, let's pretend it didn't exist.
Meanwhile, if we drill down deeper in these big lapses, the common thread and MOST SIGNIFICANT factor behind the aforementioned three damaging losses, it's not only critical to note that other top teams haven't experienced this types of losses (and definitely not on an annual basis), and neither did the Buckeyes UNTIL...
Greg Schiano showed up.
If Schiano isn't the problem, then I'd like to ask everyone, what is?
From where I sit, the defensive talent appears to be as good as ever over the past three years, but even if some folks would quibble with that, few people would argue that we don't have enough talent to avoid 30-point blowouts, while fewer still would argue that we've got a bunch of bad apples on defense who simply don't try hard or care.
However, we DO have a defensive scheme that (by Schiano's own admission) take risks with playing guys out of position and leaving them in space, not to mention being a system that offers NO alternative approach to minimizing damages that might occur on an off day.
The trouble is that if you're playing teams capable of making big plays (which you'll inevitably encounter), there's a really good chance that you'll eventually experience a devastating loss at some point.
That can't of approach simply can't be tolerated.
As we all now know, and painfully so, such a big loss not only unequivocally eliminates a team from playoff consideration, it sees a cloud of doubt hanging over every other performance, no matter how well the team might have played.
Heck, even when the defense plays well, said performance is then framed as a fluke (see the Michigan State or TTUN results for reference), so that the alleged "truth" of the team's potential as a whole is defined by a single big loss rather than its big wins.
In short, National Championship contenders cannot afford big losses.
Ergo, can Ohio State afford to retain the services or Greg Schiano or his scheme? Or will Urban and others argue that it's okay to keep him per the excuse that the D features a lot of young and inexperience guys this year?
Fine, but then what about the devastating losses in 2017 or 2016?
Or the fact that every college defense features significant turnover every single year?
Personally, I think the Buckeyes cannot afford to keep Schiano and his scheme, just as they cannot afford to keep Davis or Tavers. Moreover, if Meyer doesn't realize the nature of this limitations. can we really afford to keep him?
You don't need to trust my answer to that question. I say it's enough to look at how the results on the field have answers this question relative to the Playoff Committee.
Personally, I really hope Meyer stays, but I also hope the has the smarts and backbone to fire his friends because, IMHO, these big losses are NOT accidents. Big embarrassments simply reflect the nature of the system that Schiano deploys, that is, combined with some poor personnel decisions and an apparent inability to coach technique on the back end.
There's also every reason to expect that we will see a similar blowout in 2019.
Please do not act shocked or dismayed when the Buckeyes lose by 30 to a good or even mediocre team by 30 or more next year.
If Meyer doesn't have the smarts to see this glaring problem, or else he lacks the backbone to do something about it, such as he did when firing Beck and Warriner after 2016, then maybe the game has passed him by and he does need to go. I hope not, but unless he makes a change, nobody should expect this pattern to change.
But that's my opinion. What's yours?