You know by now that Urban Meyer has been placed on administrative leave while the university conducts an investigation into his knowledge of the Zach Smith situation. While most thought that the two former head coaches on the staff, Greg Schiano or Kevin Wilson would be named interim head coach, they decided to choose the younger, more up-and-coming candidate, Ryan Day, to take over the vacant head coaching job.
Prior to last season, Day was hired by Urban Meyer as the Co-Offensive Coordinator and the Quarterbacks Coach. But before he arrived in Columbus, Day rose pretty quickly through the coaching ranks to where he is right now.
The Manchester, NH native attended the University of New Hampshire and started three years for the Wildcats under Chip Kelly — who served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Following his playing career, he stayed in Durham, NH, where he coached tight ends alongside Kelly, his mentor. Two seasons later, he was hired as a graduate assistant at the University of Florida under a guy named Urban Meyer. Meyer clearly kept his eye on the young coach.
Calling the shots
After a couple of stops at Temple and Boston College where he coached receivers, he went back to Temple in 2012 to run an offense for the first time. Day was then hired away from Temple by a branch of Meyer’s coaching tree, Steve Addazio, to run Boston College’s offense.
In 2013, Day’s running back Andre Williams was named an unanimous All-American when he rushed for over 2,000 yards. In 2014, his BC offense ranked second in the ACC and 21st nationally with 254.4 rushing yards per game.
Back with his mentor
After Chip Kelly got bored of scoring points at Oregon, he moved on to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. From there, he hired Day to be his quarterbacks coach. Sam Bradford flourished under his tutelage where he threw for a career-high 3,725 yards and completed 65 percent of his passes — an Eagles franchise record.
After Kelly was fired, he brought the young quarterbacks coach with him to San Francisco to assume the same duties with the 49ers. While in the Bay, he coached Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. Although the team struggled as a whole, Kaepernick posted 16 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions — in only 11 starts.
Reunited with Urban
Following a two-year stint in the NFL, Meyer hired Day to improve the quarterback play at Ohio State and unite him with Kevin Wilson to resurrect an offense that went stale in their biggest games under Tim Beck and Ed Warinner.
In his one and only season as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, he improved J.T. Barrett as a passer. After previously finishing No. 81 in passing offense in 2016 and No. 100 in 2015, they finished No. 36 in the country under Day’s watch. A Davey O’Brien finalist, Barrett’s season was highlighted by arguably the greatest performance of his career when he went 33-for-39 for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns in a massive 39-38 comeback victory against Penn State. Barrett broke several school records last season, including touchdown passes in a season with 35.
Following a convincing Cotton Bowl victory over Southern California, Meyer decided to drop the “co-” from his title and named Day the offensive coordinator, with the expectation that he would be the primary play-caller for the 2018 season.
Hot name on the market
When both NFL and college jobs began to open this past offseason, Day’s name was getting thrown to the top of the rumor mill. Former Buckeye Mike Vrabel tried to convince Day to join his staff with the Tennessee Titans to become the offensive coordinator, but Day declined. He also turned down a head coaching offer from the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and returned to Columbus. Meyer sweetened his contract to stick around when he was given a new 3-year deal worth $1 million per season.
Ohio State Head Coach, Ryan Day
With the 39-year-old starting camp on Friday as the acting head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, it would be safe to say that he’s being thrown into the fire. Luckily, he has the best coaching staff in the country surrounding him — especially Schiano and Wilson, who, with their head coaching experience, will make his transition even easier. That type of coaching experience surrounding him cannot be stated enough.
Although it would be nice to have an experienced quarterback to run the offense, Day worked extensively with both Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell last season and knows how to coach both of them. It also doesn’t hurt that the roster is loaded with talent at every position and should be favored in every contest.
So, will Day still be the exclusive play-caller? USA Today believes he will. But that remains to be seen. Wilson will still work with Day on the offensive side of the ball and will be in his ear from the coaches box, which means it’ll still be a combined effort.
Both Day and Wilson know Meyer’s offense and what the plan was going to be heading into this season, so there shouldn’t be any reason for the offense to start off slow. In fact, the offense was evolving to more RPOs rather than designed quarterback runs, which favors both Day’s and Wilson’s offensive philosophies.
When Meyer was answering truthfully at B1G Media Day, he explained how the offense would differ with Haskins at quarterback:
“His skill set is very different from J.T. Barrett,” Meyer said. “His release, his size, his accuracy are his strengths. We’re still gonna be a spread offense, which means you still have dual opportunities, give it or pull it (on read-options), the RPO (run-pass option) world where you give it or you throw it -- I think that’s going to be more involved than it was with J.T.”
If you ever watched a Chip Kelly-run offense or Wilson call plays at Oklahoma, there were a lot of horizontal throws that got elite athletes into space, where they could make a move on an island and be off to the races. With the combination of a true NFL-level QB behind center, and every receiver returning for this season, expect to see more quick hitters to get the talented athletes into space.
Even if Meyer does not return to the sidelines in 2018, the team is in good hands. They have an extremely bright interim head coach and a staff surrounding him that will make his transition as easy as possible. The players will be able to use their head coach’s absence as a motivational tactic to be more focused and possibly play harder — knowing that they have a first time head coach calling the shots.
If he can gain the team’s trust during camp and they rally around Ryan Day, the 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes should be just fine without one of the greatest head coaches in college football history.