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SMQB: Does Chip Kelly Deserve an Extension After Big Win Over Southern Cal?
A look into the far-off future at another school might help answer that question.
Here at The Mighty Bruin, we usually only talk about UCLA sports. But, today, I’m going to write about something other than UCLA sports.
In fact, I’m going to write about Ohio State. Not only am I going to write today about Ohio State, but I’m going to pull out my crystal ball and look at the 2036 season for the Buckeyes.
Ryan Day is no longer the head coach in Columbus. He was hired by the Cincinnati Bengals years ago.
In fact, the 2030s have been one of the darkest periods of Buckeye football. Not only has Ohio State experienced its first losing season since John Cooper took over in 1988, but they have really been hurt by the alliance the Big Ten formed with the Pac-12 and the ACC.
The Buckeyes head coach is Jonathan Smith. Of course, Bruin fans remember Smith from when he led the resurgeance of the Oregon State Beavers back in the 2020s. He even led the Beavs to the Pac-12’s first appearance in the College Football Playoff since the rival Oregon Ducks did back in 2014.
It even led to Smith leaving Corvallis for the NFL. But the NFL chews up coaches and spits them out and that’s exactly what happened with Smith.
But Smith was hired in 2033 to lead the Buckeyes back to glory.
His first season was a rough one. Ohio State won just three games and lost nine, but, hey! At least they beat Michigan!
His second season was another tough one. The team improved to 4-8, but lost to the Wolverines, 52-35. His third year was a crazy one. The Buckeyes finished a game below .500 and were just 15 points from being undefeated.
In his fourth season, they beat Southern Cal. Ed Orgeron’s team had just won the National Championship two years ago and everyone was happy that Ohio State football was back! But, the next week, they lost to Bowling Green at home due to the Falcons’ all-world quarterback.
A few weeks later, they lost at home to a Maryland squad led by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. Flores’ team beat the Buckeyes, 42-23, making it clear that Ohio State wasn’t as good as everyone thought. Particularly, glaring was the play of the Buckeye defense. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, who hasn’t met with the media since Smith was hired had no answer for the Terrapin offense.
Three weeks later, Ohio State hosted the #10 Michigan State Spartans who are still led by Mel Tucker after his initial ten-year contract extension was extended for ten more years to ensure Tucker retires as a Spartan. The Buckeyes had the Spartans on the ropes. Michigan State’s quarterback was mediocre, but Ohio State’s defense made him look like a Heisman candidate. The team allowed the Spartans to go on a 34-3 run in the middle of the game and the Buckeyes couldn’t come back from that. Still, Todd Orlando had nothing to say to the media.
The next week, Ohio State traveled to face the Iowa Hawkeyes who are still coached by Kirk Ferentz. Of course, Ferentz had his team prepared to play like he always does and Iowa crushed the Buckeyes on the ground, 44-24.
Despite that loss, Ohio State became bowl eligible for the first time in years when they beat Rutgers at home the following week, 44-20.
In the second to last game of the season, the team traveled to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines. Interim head coach Tom Brady took over for Jim Harbaugh after Michigan lost to Penn State in the second game of the year. Ohio State absolutely crushed the Wolverines in the best offensive display ever. Michigan’s defense had no answer for Smith’s offense and gave up 62 points to the Bucks. But Ohio State’s defense played far from a perfect game and gave up 33 points to a bad Michigan team. The win left Ohio State with a 7-4 record with a makeup game against Minnesota pending next week.
Ohio State AD Martin Jarmond, who just returned to Columbus last year after finally digging UCLA out of the Bruin Athletic Department’s huge financial hole, faces a decision on Smith’s future. Does he extend Smith along with his defensive coordinator Orlando? Does he extend Smith on the condition that Orlando be fired? Does he just fire Smith and make his own mark on Ohio State?
What would Ohio State fans want him to do?
Of course, they should want him to move on from Smith and bring in a young and hungry guy who has proven to himself with his current team.
For some reason, there is a contingent of Buckeye fans who think that Smith is doing a good job and should be retained even though he has the worst record of any Ohio State head coach ever. They want Smith to get that contract extension.
Reluctantly, Jarmond keeps Smith and gives him the contract extension, letting Smith keep Orlando as the Buckeyes defensive coordinator in the process.
Smith goes on to have another losing season the next year after all the 2036 seniors have depleted the Buckeye roster and, after Tom Brady has the interim tag removed and hires his own staff, Michigan crushes Ohio State the following season, resulting in Smith’s termination and leaving Ohio State on the hook for the new, expensive buyout that came along with that extension.
Of course, the above scenario isn’t about Ohio State. It’s about the current state of UCLA football.
So, why then even use the above analogy?
It’s about “Battered Bruin Syndrome.” Some UCLA fans are so used to the Bruins losing that they will cling to any hope that things are going to get better.
They will look at UCLA’s historic win over an historically bad Southern Cal team as proof that Chip Kelly has the team on the right track.
Has the team finally improved under Kelly? Well, yes. There’s no denying that the Bruins’ record is better than it has been in any other season under Kelly.
All gains are, of course, incremental, but some increments aren’t gains.
In eleven games this season, UCLA has not beaten a team with a record over .500.
In other words, it has taken Kelly four seasons to get UCLA to where it should have been in Year One. And, that is not acceptable.
Publicly, Kelly continues to support Jerry Azzinaro, despite the fact that Azzinaro has done little to deserve such a vote of confidence. To be sure, Azzinaro just lost his crown as the worst defensive coordinator in the nation to Todd Orlando, who now owns that title thanks to yesterday’s historic loss to the Bruins. But that is the only thing yesterday’s win should have settled for UCLA football as the end of the season approaches.