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Georgia Football

Ohio State Coach Ryan Day Still Asking Questions, But There Was No Targeting

February 2, 2023

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ATHENS - Ohio State coach Ryan Day thinks a targeting call was missed during the 42-41 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 Peach Bowl.

Stop me if you have heard that opinion before out of Columbus. 

Unlike whining fans and some whining in the media, however, Day said he wanted to get to the bottom of why Javon Bullard’s hit on Marvin Harrison in the epic game between the two schools wasn’t called. 

And to be clear - it was called. But is was, correctly, not enforced. 

“I made a lot of calls after the game,” Day told reporters at Ohio State’s Signing Day press conference on Wednesday. “I felt like it was targeting. In the moment, when things are moving fast and you can’t see the replay. The hard thing for me is to see and understand and have our medical staff 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.”

Couple of things…

In the moment it might have looked like (certainly from the Ohio State perspective) targeting. Harrison was knocked out of the game because of Bullard’s hit. No one was or is cheering for that. That said... that a player is injured on a play does not necessarily mean targeting occurred.

Nuance matters in this case - feelings and grievances don’t. 

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Day went on: 

“The explanation that was told to me was that it wasn’t forcible enough,” Day said of his talk with officials from the Pac 12 who called the game. “I then asked to speak with the head of officials, Steve Shaw. He explained to me that the hit didn’t go right to Marvin’s head. It wasn’t a shot right on his head but to his shoulder.”

“I completely disagree with that,” Day said, doubling down. 

Shoulder-to-shoulder contact isn’t targeting. Day knows that. Everyone knows that. If shoulder-to-shoulder contact isn’t allowed football the sport is over. 

Still, ESPN’s Alex Scarborough quoted Harrison after the game as saying: "It was just a regular hit. I felt like I was good enough to go back in the game.”

Day, right after the Peach Bowl, said this: "I was told that it was not targeting, that he didn't take a shot to the head, which is hard for - I didn't see it, so I don't know. But to get a concussion and not get hit in the head - I have to see the replay.”

That’s what replay officials are for, and they did their job. And Ohio State’s medical people did their job, too. Harrison appeared to get hurt by his head forcefully hitting the turf - it wasn’t from Bullard hitting him in the head because that didn’t happen. 

Reality is that officials initially threw a flag for targeting because it “looked” like targeting. As mandated, the call went to replay for review. Once reviewed it was determined by officials that it wasn’t targeting. Full stop. 

The process played out. Day and Ohio State didn’t like the result, which I think everyone understands. On the night of the game the correct call was made. Everything was done correctly. The play “appeared” to be targeting. A flag was thrown. That play was reviewed. The call, BECAUSE IT WAS NOT TARGETING NO MATTER HOW MAD IT MAKES OHIO STATE WORLD, was reversed to the correct call. 

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Noah Ruggles’ short FG attempt was good on the next play. To be clear: we don’t know if Ohio State scores if they get a fresh set of downs. They could have turned the ball over, or Ruggles could have missed a short FG. 

We do know Ohio State was up 14 points on the Dawgs after his sucessful kick. 

We also don’t know that Georgia doesn’t still come back and win the game down 18 rather than down 14. Remember that Georgia kicked a FG on the next drive. Do they go for it on fourth down on that drive and score a touchdown? We don’t know. 

Up 14, why couldn’t Ohio State stop Georgia’s surge in the fourth quarter? Why was Arian Smith running wide open for a 76-yard touchdown after a Buckeye three and out? Why didn’t Ohio State kill the clock more - or why couldn’t they? Why did Ohio State let Stetson Bennett walk the dog on them the final drive of the game? Why did Day call the final drive of the night the way he did?

“Why?” Can be the most dangerous question in life. 

Ryan Kerley/Dawg Post
Georgia DB Javon Bullard is called for targeting on Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison, Jr. The call was overturned. 

We do all know the rest of the story as it actually happened. It is tough to lose close games. Georgia lost a national title game to Alabama in the same building a few years back. An offsides for a punt bock was incorrectly called against Georgia, perhaps you heard about it. No replay was used. 

It happens. Was that the reason Georgia lost the game to Alabama? It was not. 

It is tough to feel like you have been cheated - even if you haven’t. But grievance will only get you so far. 

Yes, Ohio State lost to Georgia because someone missed, but it wasn’t the officials. Ohio State had the ability to write a different script - one where they came from behind on the Dawgs to win. But they didn’t get it done - no amount of phone calls from coaches or whining from fans changes that. 

Harrison wasn’t targeted by Bullard; Georgia beat Ohio State because it earned the victory. 

Dylan Webber/Dawg Post
Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud throws a ball to Marvin Harrison, Jr.


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