It might be Chanukah, but the lights have burned out in Columbus and there is a little flicker left in Cleveland.

Let’s start with the Browns. Yes, you can be thankful the Browns are no longer the total laughingstock like they were when you had back to back stinkers in 1-15 and 0-16 seasons. They are 6 and 6.

The issue is the hype in the offseason does not match the product on the field. Despite a few ugly losses, like the whipping former Browns coach Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots handed the Browns last month. The Browns have laid some major eggs this season. Start with the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and get up to speed with the Baltimore Ravens. Even the win against the Detroit Lions smelled like rotten eggs for a week.

The issue now is the honeymoon is over for head coach Kevin Stefanski and quarterback Baker Mayfield, while playing with moxie should have been rested earlier in the season.

In a league where most teams hand you 21 points just for showing up, the Browns are struggling to get to 10 points a game. I’m not sure who is making the call on why the Browns are so scared to give Mayfield a rest to heal, but it is backfiring.

Stefanski’s constant need to say, “I need to do a better job,” is becoming a broken record. His line about Mayfield’s health is on the medical people is tiring. If that’s the case, then they are using the wrong doctors. Stefanski needs to head over to the optometrist. Because we all see a quarterback who is struggling with the scotch tape to hold his non-throwing shoulder together and a guy who is hobbling off the field.

This reminds me of the way the Browns trashed quarterback Tim Couch’s career. The difference is that Mayfield has an offensive line and weapons at tight end and running back.

The Browns got a gift against the Ravens on a fake punt that was called back with an early whistle. Then to end up with 12 men on the field after a time out is straight-out embarrassing.

Stefanski needs to take a serious look at what is going on. Browns fans like him, but with the playoffs almost gone, he needs to think about letting offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt call the plays. It will give Stefanski a chance to assess what is going on with the entire team.

Penalties per snap have haunted the Browns this season. Stefanski has a chance to get the car moving in the right direction, before they drive the franchise off a cliff again.

Meanwhile, did NBC really need to show Jack Conklin’s attempt to walk off the field after suffering season ending torn patella injury? Here is why it was bad.

They recorded him walking off the field and then decided to show it after a commercial break. It’s hard to think no ethical light bulb was triggered by anybody to think twice about showing a human being struggling to walk on national television.

Harbaugh finally beats OSU

Penalties per snap also haunted Ohio State in Ryan Day’s first Big Ten loss in his short tenure as OSU head coach. It took Jim Harbaugh eight games to figure out the Buckeyes, but he did as Michigan outplayed Ohio State, 42-27, Nov. 27.

The ground attack of Hassan Haskins’ five touchdowns and the play of defensive end Aidan Hutchenson overpowered Ohio State. End of story.

OSU could still smell roses, but you need to be a Michigan fan in the Big Ten Championship game. If Michigan beats Iowa in the title game, the Wolverines will go to the College Football Playoff. The Bucks would most likely be the next highest-ranking Big Ten team, which would mean a trip to the Rose Bowl.

What makes it more interesting is that you are looking at an old school Big Ten versus Pac-12 match up. Maybe a rematch against Oregon, which beat Ohio State Sept. 11 at the ’Shoe. You could also be looking at the Urban Meyer Rose Bowl if Utah beats Oregon. That could mean an OSU-Utah match-up, and Meyer coached both schools.

You also must wonder if Meyer is going to make a run at the Notre Dame job now that Brian Kelly is off to LSU. Meyer has said in the past that Notre Dame is his “dream job.” The questions now are will the Fighting Irish be interested after his “fun” night in Columbus following his Jacksonville Jaguars losing to the Cincinnati Bengals? Does he want to bail on the NFL that quickly?

Will Notre Dame look to go back to Cincinnati again, this time looking at coach Luke Fickell, who is eying down a huge bid to take the Cincinnati Bearcats to college football’s final four. Bravo Luke, bravo Bearcats.

The Notre Dame job is littered with all sorts of Ohio links. Both Meyer and Fickell coached the Buckeyes and Notre Dame defensive coordinator is former Ohio State standout Marcus Freeman. He could be a winner staying on as defensive coordinator with Luke Fickell, or even getting the Cincinnati job if Fickell leaves UC. Another candidate could be coach Matt Campbell of Iowa State, who is a former Mount Union player and coach at Toledo.


If you have a suggestion for a column idea for Andy Baskin, send him an email at columnists@cjn.org. He can be heard on “Baskin & Phelps” weekdays on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland at audacy.com.

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