Part of the reason Ryan Day got the job as Ohio State’s next head football coach is because much of his vision of the program is already in place. There is no need to uproot what has grown tall and strong.
OSU athletic director Gene Smith said the seamlessness of the transition was something that was very important in the decision to name Day as Urban Meyer’s replacement. Sure, Day will have his own touches, as he should, but he also saw a very positive program over the last two years and there is no reason to mess with that positivity.
And in deciding to retire, Meyer weighed the current program and felt now was a safe time to pass the torch.
“I think in trying to build the most comprehensive premier program in America, you also want to hand it off to someone at some point, so it can get even stronger,” Meyer said of his decision. “And my witnessing of the work Ryan has done and made this decision, not as difficult as I thought, because I know the infrastructure is going to be secure with Coach Marotti and the rest of the staff. I think it’s very healthy. We recruited very well.”
In wanting to create his own program, however, Day will still be faced with the same constraints as Meyer.
“This is a very different place,” Meyer said. “This is a unique place. This is a place that the academic expectations of recent, not back in ’86, ’87, when I was here before, but as of recent is very challenging.”
Day has seen those “challenges” first hand over his two years and only sees it as a positive, which is why he took a moment to speak to the OSU faculty last week during OSU’s press conference to announce the shakeup.
“To the faculty and staff, the profile of the student-athlete that we recruit here is a direct reflection of the academic reputation that you’ve created,” he said. “And we realize how important that relationship is. I look forward to working with you and supporting each other in the future.”
Off the field, the Ohio State football program that Urban Meyer created is a model for the rest of the nation.
On the field, the same thing can be said as well. And while there won’t be many changes off the field, the changes on the field have already been seen in the two years with Ryan Day on staff.
This past season, for instance, quarterback Dwayne Haskins just had the greatest single-season performance of any Buckeye ever. In his first year as a starter. And he’s not even done yet.
Meyer credited Day for turning Haskins into a tougher player and better leader.
It is that kind of direction that Day plans for the program under his watch.
“On the field you can expect a team that’s going to be tough, that’s going to have great energy, and will be creative,” Day said of his vision. “On offense, we continue to force defenses to cover the entire field this year as we went from J.T. Barrett to Dwayne Haskins at quarterback this season, which took on a very different attack. But I feel strongly about our offense’s ability to modify and adapt to our personnel year in, year out.”
The ability to modify and adapt will be key as there may never be another passer at Ohio State like Dwayne Haskins again. Day showed last year and this year that he can work with any kind of quarterback you put in front of him.
As the head coach moving forward, he will also have a much larger say in the kind of defense he wants the Buckeyes to have.
Being the offensive coordinator the last two seasons, Day has watched first hand a defense that at times seemed unnecessarily complicated and often unsound.
He has, however, apparently seen enough to know that he has seen enough.
“On defense, we’ll be aggressive, with multiple fronts,” he said. “Sound and simple for the players so that they will have the ability to play fast.”