Ryan Day wanted an explanation.
The non-targeting call on Javon Bullard's third-quarter hit on Marvin Harrison Jr. in the Peach Bowl might have cost Ohio State a chance to play in the national championship game. While the play was initially ruled targeting following a third-down pass from C.J. Stroud to Harrison in the end zone, the call was changed after a subsequent review. Harrison was sidelined for the rest of the game, Ohio State had to settle for a field goal and Georgia ended up winning the College Football Playoff semifinal matchup by just one point.
No targeting was called for this hit on Marvin Harrison Jr. The Ohio State receiver was taken to the sidelines after and is being treated by medical personnel. pic.twitter.com/rSIo0ZRe2M— Eleven Warriors (@11W) January 1, 2023
Immediately after the game, Day said “I'd have to see the replay” before coming to a conclusion about the non-call. A full month after the fact, Day's had plenty of time to review the controversial play, and it's no surprise where he stands. During a press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Wednesday, Day said he sought subsequent clarification from officials on the ruling but didn’t get the answer he was looking for.
“I made a lot of calls after the game. I felt like it was targeting. In the moment, and when things are moving fast and you can't see the replay, it's very hard to see,” Day said. “The hard thing for me is to see and understand that and have our medical staff let us know that he was knocked unconscious, and that's why we're not going to put him back in the game. Yet the flag gets picked up for targeting.”
Day said he talked to Big Ten coordinator of football officials Bill Carollo before speaking with the Pac-12, who supplied the officiating crew for the Peach Bowl. Day then spoke with national coordinator of officials Steve Shaw, who told him it was not a direct hit to Harrison's head.
“I spoke with the officials in the Big Ten and had a great conversation with Bill. I then called at the Pac-12 to find out an explanation there. The explanation that was told to me was that it wasn't forceable enough,” Day said. “I then asked to speak with the head of the officials, Steve Shaw. He explained to me that the hit didn't go right to Marvin’s head, that it wasn't a shot right on his head, it was to the shoulder. I completely disagree with that. But that was the decision that was made and those are the two explanations I was given.”
Day found little solace in the responses he received, but even if he had, it wouldn't have changed the end result. Understandably, the Peach Bowl loss – and the calls that might have swung the game – will stick with Day and the Buckeyes for the foreseeable future.
“When you get that close, you're talking about one or two plays and one or two calls, that hurts,” Day said. “It does. And so I know it's motivating to our guys.”