Ryan Day has officially been Ohio State’s head coach for less than six months.
It was less than seven months ago that Urban Meyer announced his retirement and it was clear that the future of the program was in Day’s hands.
It’s famously hard to be “the guy after THE GUY.” Meyer lifted the already-legendary Ohio State program to levels it had never reached before.
That was true on the field: 86 wins and just 9 losses, seven straight wins (and counting) over Michigan, seven straight division championships, three Big Ten Titles, New Year’s Six bowl games every season, and a national championship.
It was also true on the recruiting trail. Meyer recruited at a level that neither Ohio State, nor the Big Ten had ever seen before.
He had the top-ranked class in the conference every year he was in charge. He had top-5 classes in the nation in six of his seven years. The other year, the Buckeyes fell all the way to No. 7.
Every single class included at least one prospect ranked as a 5-star. The 2017 class featured five.
But here’s the thing about totally unprecedented levels of success: they’re kind of hard to maintain forever.
At some point, Ohio State is going to miss a New Year’s Six bowl game. They’re likely going to lose to Michigan at some point in the coming decades, too.
There will come a year when Alabama misses the College Football Playoff. The growing empire at Clemson will fall eventually, too. If it happened to Rome, it can happen to Dabo Swinney.
But six months into Day’s tenure, it’s looking like the Buckeyes may stick around at the top of the polls and the recruiting rankings for a while longer.
The Buckeyes landed former 5-star QB Justin Fields as a transfer.
OT Paris Johnson is still committed to the Buckeyes, and 5-star WR Julian Fleming just came on board. RB Kendall Milton, another 5-star prospect is visiting this weekend.
The visitor list for a big recruiting weekend in late June is loaded with the top players in the country.
The top WR, OT, and OC in the country are all committed for 2020, as is the No. 2 pro-style QB.
They already have one of the country’s best quarterbacks locked in for 2021, too.
In Year 1 AM (After Meyer), things look remarkably similar to the way they did when Meyer was still in charge.
This isn’t solely Day’s doing, of course. One of the big benefits to hiring from within was that the Buckeye recruiting machine stayed intact.
Director of Player Personnel Mark Pantoni and his staff are still at the very top of the business. Strength coach Mickey Marotti is at the absolute apex of his field as well.
The quality of the education hasn’t slipped, the facilities are still top-notch, they just put another bumper crop of players into the NFL Draft, and programs like Real Life Wednesdays are still in in place.
Pretty much all the things that made Ohio State an appealing destination for the nation’s best high school football players are still there. And Day has done exactly what he needed to do – keep things rolling.
He still has to show that he can maintain something close to the expected level of success on the field. If the Buckeyes somehow go 7-5 this fall, things could take a step back on the recruiting trail too.
But so far, Day has been everything that Ohio State fans could have hoped for. He’s not Urban Meyer. Virtually no coaches are.
But if he can continue running Urban Meyer’s old program at anything close to the level that Meyer did, there won’t be many coaches like Ryan Day, either.