Ryan Day received a sneak preview of life as Ohio State’s head coach last summer. He went through fall camp as the Buckeyes’ head coach and prepared the team for their first game without Urban Meyer. And then when Meyer was allowed back with his team, it was still Day on the sidelines leading the charge for the next two games.
In those seven or so weeks, Day made it a point to spend time getting to know the players on offense and defense. He would stop by Chase Young’s locker and catch up, or stop Dre’Mont Jones in a hallway and ask how he was doing.
As Jim Tressel used to say, players don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Day put time in with the team to let them know he was there for them and if they needed anything, they had a place to go.
That was just a glimpse of the realities of being a head coach for Ryan Day, but it didn’t scare him away or make him long for the more formulaic life as an NFL coach.
And from hearing him talk of what he has learned in these nearly seven weeks as Ohio State’s new head coach, the relationships he built in the summer have only grown in the winter.
“I think there’s a lot of things,” Day said of what he has learned so far. “I think I said this before, maybe even in the preseason. When you’re walking in these shoes, you notice things you didn’t notice before. More than when I was an assistant coach, I realized what great kids we have, from all the way across the board. When you’re just in the offense, working with the quarterbacks, you’re in the offensive world, you know those guys. You see the guys on defense, wider picture, you realize what great kids they are.”
There is also the broader scope of what he has learned outside the walls of the football facilities.
“What a great university this is, the power Ohio State has all over the country,” he said. “Whether I’m in Hawaii, Seattle, New York, Cleveland, it doesn’t matter. There’s Buckeyes everywhere. When you walk in, have that block O on your shirt, people respect you. People pull for Ohio State.”
Seeing the kinds of players that have played at Ohio State and are still playing at Ohio State, as well as the draw around the nation, Day has also come to the same conclusion as Urban Meyer.
“You shouldn’t have to compromise when you go to recruit a student-athlete here,” he said. “You should be able to recruit a great player, great families, and a great student. We’ve done that here and will continue to do that.”