Standing on the field after Saturday night’s win in the Big Ten Championship Game, Ohio State quarterbacks coach Ryan Day wasn’t trying to hide his smile. He alternated between taking in the scene of Buckeye players celebrating and hugging his co-workers for a job well done.
This was Day’s 16th season as a college or pro football coach. It was his first conference championship game win.
It was well worth the wait.
And yet, in the locker room after the game, he wasn’t thinking about what the game meant for him, he was thinking about what it meant for everyone else.
“For the guys, for J.T., for the seniors, for the coaches, for the whole program, you feel an obligation to do a good job because of what’s gone on here before,” he said. “The people and the support that Ohio State Football has and the fan base is unbelievable.”
Ryan Day was brought to OSU to help put together a championship-caliber offense. Currently, Ohio State has the only offense in the nation that has rushed and passed for over 3,000 yards this season, and it was that balance that brought a conference title back to the Buckeyes.
It was OSU’s first conference title since 2014, but it felt like a long time coming.
“It’s almost a sense of relief because you feel like you have to hold up your end of the bargain,” he said. “It was great to see, just to sit out there and take it all in and watch all of the fans and watch the players and watch coach Meyer up in front of everybody enjoying the moment.”
While watching those celebrations — and experiencing his own — it was impossible for Day ignore what this win also meant for his quarterback J.T. Barrett.
After seeing what Barrett went through just to get to the game, having him out there the entire time makes the win even more special.
“It does,” he said. “Because when you see a guy work through good times and bad times, when you see a guy go through an obstacle like last week and end up winning and end up on that stage as a Big Ten champ, you’re proud of that because I was lucky enough to be a part of his career.”