The World’s Longest Interview
When Ryan Day named Corey Dennis as Ohio State’s quarterback coach, it definitely caused a stir.
With Mike Yurcich’s departure to Texas after the season, Day could have conducted a national search — and undoubtedly received a number of impressive resumes.
Instead, he went with Dennis, who had been at Ohio State longer than Day, but had never been a position coach.
Dennis went from quality control to the position coach of the most important position in sports. That’s quite a jump, but there was a familiarity that Day considered a strength. Dennis had been Day’s right-hand man since Day came to Ohio State, and every day he worked to prove himself to Day.
“I think one thing that was different for me is working with Coach Day the last three years, I guess you could say that I’ve interviewed for this job every day for the last three years,” Dennis said. “He’s seen what I’ve done. He knows the way that I prepare. He knows the way that I do things. And so I guess just the way that I’ve been around, and the way that I’ve kind of done things, that’s kind of been our relationship.”
Four-star Scottsdale, Arizona quarterback Jack Miller had been committed to Ohio State for about a year before talk began of the Buckeyes pursuing a second quarterback in the 2020 recruiting cycle.
Ryan Day’s preference is to have four scholarship quarterbacks on the team, and last year they went through the season with just three. Two of those quarterbacks — Chris Chugunov and Gunnar Hoak — were grad transfers from other schools. While the depth was essential, the lack of familiarity with OSU’s offensive system always makes the newest transfer an odd man out.
With Chugunov’s departure, the Buckeyes were going to be back at three scholarship quarterbacks in 2020 — unless they signed a second quarterback in the 2020 class or took another transfer with immediate eligibility.
Ohio State decided to go after a second quarterback, but first they let Jack Miller know.
“Yeah, I was aware of everybody who they were even talking to in my grade and really anybody else,” Miller said. “They were super good at communicating with me about everything that was going on.”
Miller understood the rationale for bringing in a second quarterback and he knows the move was the best thing for the program.
“It’s just not the situation you really want to have, with Justin [Fields] playing on eggshells and making sure that he doesn’t get hurt,” he said. “So yeah, and I feel like we’re in a much better situation now though, with the depth that we have.”
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Usually when a football coach leaves Ohio State it’s either because he has been fired or because he has chosen to leave for what he feels is a better job.
In either case, it is rare for Buckeye fans to revere a departed coach. If he’s been fired, it’s for good reason and Buckeye fans were calling for it long before it ever happened. If the coach leaves on his own accord, then he has turned his back on the Buckeyes and he becomes persona non grata.
That was not the experience for Kerry Coombs or his family, however.
Coombs left Ohio State following the 2017 season after spending six years becoming a very popular figure in the football program. He went to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans to coach defensive backs for former Buckeye Mike Vrabel.
Even in his two years away, he was still very much connected to the Buckeyes. Which is why he’s very happy to be back.
“I’m overwhelmingly grateful to Buckeye Nation, to the people everywhere I’ve gone,” Coombs said. “I mean, I spoke to the Ohio State alumni group in Nashville. I went on the Buckeye Cruise after I left, and the people there were phenomenal. Everywhere I go. And what made me feel good about that was they weren’t mad that I left. At least they didn’t say they were. They were great. And they were awesome. And I’m an Ohio kid. I’m not a kid anymore, but I grew up here.
“And so for me to be able to be a part of such a special place, and to have that connection with everybody, there’s nowhere I can go where somebody doesn’t come up and say, ‘O-H.’ Nowhere in the world. We’re in the mall at Kansas City the night before the AFC Championship Game, my wife and I walking through connected to the hotel, there’s three people, ‘O-H.’ It’s everywhere. And so, my heart is full for the people from Buckeye Nation, and that’s a large reason why we’re back. We missed it.”