Ohio State Hiring Ryan Day Definitely a Gamble

Ohio State Buckeyes football Ryan Day Pregame

They say you never want to follow a legend, but rather follow the guy who followed the legend.

At Ohio State, however, that’s kind of difficult because OSU has had a College Football Hall of Fame head coach at the helm for 67 of the last 68 years. And who knows, Luke Fickell may make it a clean sweep when he’s eventually done as well.

Ryan Day now becomes the latest Ohio State head coach to follow a legend.

With Urban Meyer announcing his retirement Tuesday afternoon, he will cast an unmatched shadow in Ohio State history. In seven short years, Meyer’s legacy can stand with any before him, and tower over most.

A national championship, seven first-place division finishes, three conference championships, three bowl wins, and possibly a Rose Bowl win to put a very Scarlet and Gray bow on the gift that Meyer has been for OSU.

Meyer didn’t lose his first regular season conference game until his fourth year at Ohio State.

He finished 82-9 at Ohio State with a 54-4 mark in Big Ten games. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh lost four conference games in 2017 alone.

Urban Meyer has left impossible standards to follow, his .901 winning percentage is placed on an impossibly-tall pedestal.

That’s probably why Ohio State went out and found the only man with a higher winning percentage at OSU than Meyer.

Ryan Day went 3-0 to start the season as the Buckeyes’ head coach, and while the opponents weren’t noteworthy, that doesn’t mean people weren’t taking note of Day’s approach and performance.

Meyer has called Day elite since last year, well before he was thrust into the position of acting head coach during fall camp.

Players and coaches responded well to him, and if you ask those who have interacted with Day, there really are no bad reviews out there.

There is plenty of caution – like hiring a guy who has just three games of head coaching experience – but Day’s future is as bright as any assistant coach in the nation, so Ohio State just decided to keep him home and turn his future into theirs.

Is it a gamble? Sure.

Hell, there were plenty of pundits who thought hiring Urban Meyer was a gamble.

That ended up being as much of a gamble as a one-colored roulette wheel.

There will be people who think Ohio State is above hiring an assistant coach. There used to be people who thought OSU was above hiring a coach from I-AA as well, but that worked out okay the decade before this one.

Should Ohio State have done a national search?

What makes you think they didn’t? This wasn’t a surprise to OSU. Talks were happening back in the summer, so there was an entire college football season to soak in the possibilities. The list of potential head coaches was small, so it’s not something a search committee would need to be involved in.

Day had the advantage of being at Ohio State already, but that also shouldn’t disqualify him from the job.

Ohio State could have spent much of the season watching other coaches, but in each of those instances, the university would have had to imagine those coaches at OSU. With Day, they got to see their imagination brought to life every day. And none of it was bad.

Things are about to get much more serious, however, as imagination turns to reality.

How will Ryan Day do at Ohio State? Likely just fine. Same as Matt Campbell or most anybody else mentioned as a possibility.

Doing “just fine” isn’t really the goal, however, which is why making as seamless a transition as possible is also important.

When Day was the acting head coach, he said his goal was to rock the boat as little as possible. Now that this is his boat, he’ll be the one at the wheel. He will make some changes but will also look to continue the course that Meyer set for him.

Following a legend is never ideal, nor is losing one.

If the foundation is solid, however, then the transition can be made easier.

Ryan Day is viewed as an up-and-coming superstar in the coaching business and Ohio State didn’t want to let him achieve his stardom somewhere else.

Hiring him is definitely a risky wager, but letting him go may have been an even bigger gamble.

20 Responses

  1. I wish Ryan Day well. He inherits a great program and a great staff.
    One thing that I hope he will do a little differently is rebuild the fence around Ohio that Jim Tressel built. Yes, we still want elite national recruits but we also want the top in-state talent, and we want some guys who might be willing the fill the senior role rather than go early to the NFL. I think you need a mix of both types.

  2. Relax everybody. Think of Oklahoma and Lincoln Riley. OC promoted after the legend retired. Two years, two playoff appearances, maybe two Heisman trophy winners. Nobody is talking about Bob Stoops anymore.

  3. So long. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

  4. Thanks coach Meyer for the memories and great wins! 2014 was like a miracle season and was always going to be hard to top. And you beat ttun every year, fantastic! Good luck to you and your family.

    Coach Day; I will support you fully and enthusiastically as long as we play good hard hitting, fundamentally sound football. I sincerely hope you build your own legacy at Ohio State. Good luck to you and your family. GO BUCKS!

  5. If I could bend Coach Meyer’s ear this evening I would tell him thank you for the wonderful run. When your team goes 12-1 and your fan base are unhappy know that you set a very high standard that’s very much appreciated. It was refreshing to know that at the start of every CFB season under your reign – one could expect to bank 11.5 wins, AND, that a win over the bad guys (and my best friends homies) would give me and Buckeye nation bragging rights for another year. Nothing lasts forever, but your run as the BBOTB will be missed. Take care of U! PS – if you ever coach again I ain’t mad at cha!

  6. Stop with the ohio guy stuff. Michigan tried that and it didn’t work.

    1. Maybe if Michigan started looking for Ohio guys instead of Michigan guys it’d work better for them 😉

      1. Hairball IS an Ohio guy………………

  7. Day’s success will have everything to do with who he is surrounded with. You win with people. I think guys like Schiano and Wilson came on board because of the guy at the top. I think a number of other assistants came on board to be on the staff at THE Ohio State University. So, some prospective assistants, just as with some recruits, will not be as excited to work for Day as for Meyer, who is famous for turning out head coaches as much as turning out champions.
    On the other hand, Day is not just selling himself, but selling Ohio State. Many won’t get that. But I think for those that do, they will play and coach like their hair is on fire.
    One other thing – as of January 2nd, our current LB coach has zero personal relationship with our HC to further complicate his evaluation.

  8. Interesting comments. Day led OSU to 3-0 and while many would say that TCU win wasn’t as spectacular as TCU is not that dominant, it was still a decent win, especially there at night early in the year. Interestingly, OSU did not really start to struggle until Urban’s 2nd game back against PSU and that struggle continued for the most part all the way to the MI beat down, except sun rays during our game in East Lansing. Why? Don’t really know. Saying that Day is a rising superstar to actually being one is (maybe) two different things. However, OSU’s O is now very elite, and while OK gets the nod for being the best O, we know that OSU’s O has not hit its ceiling as we know the running game could vastly improve and outclass OK’s O. If Day had any large portion of that, Day is our guy, because modern day hybrid O are the thing and solid D’s can only minimize that-see the MI game. A few questions: 1. How will and can Day recruit? Urban’s success is highly tied to his elite talent and coaching on a national level. 2. How much was Day’s O success tied to Urban overseeing details that many don’t see? 3. Can Day manage the whole thing. There’s one thing to do well with 25% or 50% of the team, another 100%, see Luke Fickell. I don’t think its a coincident that Day was our interim head coach, we didn’t know the outcome or extent of Urban’s punishment. But we all know two things knowing the time frame of Urban’s retirement; 1) OSU could of pretty much had any coach they wanted. 2) We might not see the type of success we’ve seen under Urban for a long time. Next year will tell, especially that game that’s what? 351 days from now. Thank you Urban and God bless you and your family, loved the ride with you.

  9. The king is dead! Long live the king!

  10. Andrew, I think your feelings actually bolster the argument for Day as a positive. If assembling a great staff is the mission than that minimizes his coaching talent and offers him the opportunity to be the ceo. I believe he is capable with doing that and I believe Meyer will be available to him in making those choices. I think this is a great move that will provide a seamless transition.

    1. That seems to be my initial hope, and we saw glimpses of that as OSU routed OR ST. RUT and TCU, and btw, we didn’t route the patsies for the most part the rest of the season and that’s why we’re at Wonka’s Play off gate with no ‘Golden Ticket!’

    2. I hope you’re right, Gary. But is it really realistic to expect no dropoff? Is it really safe to presume that the man can hire and keep a safe coaching staff when we have zero data on that? This is THE Ohio State University and the cupboard is overflowing. I don’t expect an immediate implosion. Like everything I do, I’m looking at a 3 – 5 year horizon and taking what’s unknown and simply realising that we’ve had it SO good the past 18 years that anything less will be a disappointment. That’s a pretty high bar.

  11. I’m in the minority. I think Ryan Day will fail and possibly spectacularly. As James pointed out in his response, leading Urban Meyer’s team is one thing, running the ship that’s your own is quite another. I hope I’m wrong.
    The biggest part of being a head coach isn’t your own skill in your own small set (offense, quarterbacks) it’s being able to assemble a team of coaches in all aspects of the game (or at worst the majority) that a) are great at their jobs, b) (in college game at least) are great recruiters, c) are terrific communicators as both teachers and as a staff and d) both has and can sell an over-arching vision of the Program and have all the above mesh towards a cohesive Program with a winning atmosphere where “good enough” is NEVER good enough.
    The first clues will be who stays on staff and who leaves. The next clues will be who is hired to replace who is leaving. If any recruits leave, who among them and why will be yet more. By Signing Day we’ll have a fair amount of data but nothing will tell like the crucible of next season’s gauntlet of games.
    Yes, I get it that after the monstrously successful Urban Frank Meyer that it’s easiest to predict doom-and-gloom and given his success there’s a much higher percentage chance someone like me is gonna be right than someone predicting the same historic success that the Buckeyes have now enjoyed for 18 years.
    The key for Ryan Day isn’t Ryan Day though, but who is around him. Coach Hayes said it best, “You win with people.”

    1. I’m somewhat relieved to know that Urban is going to continue being AT the Woody. Raise your hand if you’re even slightly familiar with the way Urban Meyer works? Urban is a great coach, but he’s an even greater communicator. When he has something to say it’s in a manner that disarms the person he intends to address. Is that manipulative? Perhaps to a degree, but it’s not meant to derail anyone’s idea’s, it’s to give the person or persons he’s addressing things to sort through in their own mind on their own time. Thoughts that offer an answer without them really feeling that he’s leading them in any one direction. He didn’t earn his degree in psychology for nothing. He uses it and has developed it throughout the years. Him being in the Woody available for Coach Day to pick his mind is MORE than encouraging.

      2 years ago I wanted Coach Day G O N E. I just didn’t see any improvement from JT Barrett’s passing and that was supposed to be his reason for being AT Ohio State. Dwayne obviously has a ton of natural and very good younger years formative coaching. But he didn’t become the best QB in College football based on those first 2 elements. He needed taught reads, delivery and big time leadership through doing experience. He’s obviously gotten that through his position coach. I watched JT Barrett at camps and his arm did get stronger. At the elite 11 camp a couple years ago he was zipping the ball very well. But there was no pressure and really no coverage to speak of. PERHAPS Ryan Day didn’t fail in developing JT’s arm. Maybe that was simply to ceiling of JT’s physical ability. He has always been an RPO QB, and he was second to none executing that scheme. Dwayne is a beast of a different arm level. He’s probably still not even close to what he can become. In hindsight it would have been really fun to have seen what Cardale Jones would have looked like totally under Ryan Day’s mentoring.

      I’m going to look at things just like everyone else, but, I’m going to be cautiously optimistic. His offensive staff needs an OLine coach. He has the bankroll to find a good one to fit his philosophy. He needs a rock solid DC and linebackers coach. Combined he has a basement figure of over 2 million dollars to solidify those assistant staff positions. Positions that maybe Urban felt obligated to keep because of his loyalty. Ryan Day DOES NOT have a 5 year contract to build ANYTHING. He has a contract to keep the machine running smoothly and to make it better.

      NO PRESSURE COACH RYAN………just deliver the goods! The magnifying glass was just placed on you to a degree most will burn up and burn out under……WELCOME to the realities of Buckeye Nation. It’s Biblical in proportion. “To whom much is given, much shall be required.” A National Title in the first 2 years will relieve some of that intense glare, and my ass will be in seats at home and away screaming support, and in a forum like this one critiquing and harshly criticizing shortfalls!

      Once again. Thank you Coach Urban for 7 years on very fond memories, and thank your family for sharing you with us.

  12. The first thing Day should do is fire Schiano! We need the true Silver Bullets back and they were absent the past few years.

  13. i really like Ryan Day. But are we getting another John Cooper? we’ve seen in past history this program needs an OHIO guy. Its important to the program and the rivalry. Tressel and Meyer were those guys, Cooper was not. I think i would actually prefer Matt Campbell.

  14. I’ll be watching his choices in defensive staff really closely. One thing is 100% certain, if he wants, or winds up NEEDING time to transition his personal offensive philosophy, he’s going to need a tough defense to provide him some wiggle room on the scoreboard to tinker and hone the direction he wants to go as an offense. As the interim this year he had Urban’s philosophy as the foundation and the answer when struggles came. I think that’s the experience element that allowed Ryan to fall back on during his 2018 interim venture. Next year he doesn’t have that fail safe. Although, I’m sure that Urban will have an office in the building and his number set up on speed dial for Ryan to use when he runs into “stumped” moments. The real life Wednesdays I’m hearing will continue, and the other player participation events will remain intact. So the backbone of the off the field aspects should be the exact same, but, with Ryan doing more leading in those area’s. Recruiting skills camps won’t be messed with, and recruiting will not change.

    Urban Meyer set Ryan Day up with a CFB monster already in high gear. The only thing Ryan needs is the aforementioned time to fully implement his personally philosophical quirks to what he wants and expects for his offense. That means he’s going to need a much stronger defense than the one Urban was able to work around on his return from that BS suspension. Dumping the 2 baggage carriers, Schiano and Davis will open up a couple million dollars for him to work with in finding great fits to give the best defensive line coach in America something to work with. I personally think he could do far worse than offering Marcus Freeman a job with a linebacker/co-DC job.

    One thing is certain. Ryan Day should already have his hands full laying out not just a gameplan for the Rose Bowl, but to make the transition FROM the Rose Bowl to opening Spring Camp as seamless as possible. Pretty sure at the moment that Coach Mick is staying put which guarantee’s a great winter sessions and players with Div 1a ready bodies to open Spring Camp.

    Another question is………does Kevin Wilson stay on a Assist. HC and OC?

    A lot to look at and watch over the coming next 30 – 45 days.

    Hiring ANY new coach, regardless of experience at the helm is a risk. So the risk meter should be one of the back burner issues. More important than that is how he assembles his staff and support staff, and his methodology on the recruiting trail. Wouldn’t it be sweet if he somehow, someway was able to get Kerry Coombs to come back home, and Marcus Freeman out of Luke Fickell’s “evil” (soory Luke, you know I’m just hacking on you!) clutches?

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