In his years as an assistant coach, Ryan Day watched his head coaches and saw how they delegated their responsibilities.
Depending on the background of any head coach, they may delegate fewer responsibilities when it comes to the position that they “grew up” coaching.
For Day, that’s quarterbacks.
He proved in his two years as an assistant under Urban Meyer that he was one of the best quarterback coaches in the nation. Then when he became a head coach, he had to go out and find his replacement.
After years of being attached to one position, Day now had to put somebody in charge of the most important position in sports so that he could manage the rest of his responsibilities.
It wasn’t easy, but it’s part of the job.
“That is one part of being the head coach is you have to let things go,” Day said recently. “You have to trust the guys around you. That’s one thing that I’ve learned this year is you’re only as good as the guys around you and you have to let things go and you have to trust them. If you don’t, you drive yourself crazy and you can become exhausted worrying about all the different things that come into play.”
Meyer was an example of that in his time at Florida. Some years he had a staff that he completely trusted. Other years he ended up being a micromanager.
Some head coaches can’t even entrust somebody else to coach the position that is their specialty. New Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach never had an offensive coordinator or quarterback coach in his time at Washington State.
That’s something that Day couldn’t envision doing. Which is why he will be so reliant upon offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson once again, as well as new quarterback coach Corey Dennis.
“After going through it for a year, it’s very difficult with all the things that come with this job to be in that room all the time coaching the quarterbacks,” he said. “I’m certainly involved with the offense, and Kevin is a huge part of what we do on offense. And he’s going to continue to do more.”
Day allowed his assistants to call plays last spring so that they could get a feel for it and Day could get a feel for them. He has also worked side by side with Wilson calling plays ever since they arrived together in 2017.
His familiarity with Wilson — and more importantly his trust — could even see Day taking a step back from some of the play-calling duties this season.
“We’ve talked even about moving forward, having him share some of the play-calling roles with me,” Day said. “And we’ll continue those conversations as we go through the spring.”
As Day went about his first year as head coach, he found himself spending less time with the quarterbacks in meetings than he thought he would. But that’s life as a head coach. The one thing many of them miss from their days as an assistant is simply coaching a position.
Which is why Day still gravitates to the quarterbacks on the actual practice field.
“I think if you saw the flow of how it worked, once we got on the field, I was kind of right there with the quarterback and coaching them up on the field and making sure we were on the same page,” he said. “When it came to meeting, Mike [Yurcich] and Corey were in there and they were meeting.”
Due to NCAA rules — and the laws of man — there are only so many hours in a day that players are allowed to be working, which means that there are different position meetings going on at the same time any given day. For Day to stay with the quarterbacks means he would be missing opportunities to check in with the rest of the team.
Having coaches he can trust allows him to be more involved with the entire Ohio State picture while not having to be locked in just one room with one position group.
“I’m in every special teams meeting with Coach [Matt] Barnes,” he said. “While that’s going on the quarterbacks are meeting. I want to be able to jump in and out of different things and have the flexibility to do that while the rest of the team is meeting.”
And to be able to do that, he had to let go of the quarterbacks.
At least off the field.