The tone for the worst year many of us have ever experienced was set three days before it even began.
The stage was set in Glendale, Arizona, where unbeaten Ohio State would take on a Clemson team that handed Urban Meyer two of his most painful losses as head coach of the Buckeyes. It was Ohio State's third appearance in the College Football Playoff, but it was the first time the team was undefeated after entering the postseason riding one of the most dominant 13-game stretches in program history.
The Buckeyes completely controlled the pace early, marching out to a 16-0 first-half lead that could have, and in the end should have, been bigger with a bit more red-zone efficiency. But Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence answered late in the second quarter, leading two touchdown drives to cut into the huge deficit. It was 16-14 at halftime, and a back-and-forth second half produced a dramatic 29-23 win for Clemson.
That game put a sour taste in every Buckeye fans' mouth as the calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020, and it only worsened as the months flew by.
First, we had to watch former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow lead LSU to that coveted win over Clemson to win the national title. Of course, it was better than seeing Clemson prevail, but there was certainly a twinge of what could have been seeing Burrow hoist that playoff trophy in purple and gold.
Then we lost the end of the college basketball season and March Madness as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Chris Holtmann's Buckeyes were starting to round into shape and had the potential for a tournament run, but the NCAA halted competition as the national lockdown set in.
There was a brief stretch when Ryan Day and Ohio State's recruiting gave Buckeyes fans a much-needed oasis, but that was then overshadowed when Kevin Warren and the Big Ten university presidents made the decision to postpone the fall football season.
Let's get this out of the way now. The fact that Ohio State won't get the chance to avenge that December loss to Clemson with another run at the College Football Playoff sucks. We all wish we could spend our September and October Saturdays watching our favorite team, but it's not happening.
But we want to look for the bright side, too, and if recent reports about a potential Thanksgiving weekend start to the Big Ten football season are true, that opens an interesting possibility.
That possibility would see the Big Ten football and basketball seasons unfolding at the same time.
Sure, there's typically a couple weeks of overlap for the end of college football's regular season and the beginning of non-conference basketball action. But if the Big Ten kicks off its football season at the end of November, we'd have the heart of both seasons on the field and the court taking place concurrently.
While every single one of us would much rather see Ohio State football kick off in a couple weeks, being able to flip back and forth between football action and relevant basketball games wouldn't be the worst way to close out 2020 and start 2021.
The only kicker here is Warren and the rest of the Big Ten need to conjure some leadership that has been clearly lacking to make this a possibility.