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24 Club: Ryan Day — The Football Savant

Day’s first season set the tone for a bright future.

Big Ten Football Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

There have been 24 head coaches in the history of Ohio State football. Each has a story and legacy. This offseason, Land-Grant Holy Land’s new series 24 Club will help you get to know the coaches from past and present who built the program. Today we look at Ohio State’s 24th head coach — Ryan Day.

Name: Ryan Day
Seasons Coached: 1 (2019-Present)

Overall Record: 16-1

Where Does He Rank in the 24 Club?

Overall Wins: No. 15 out of 24 OSU Coaches

Winning Percentage: No. 1 out of 24 OSU Coaches

With Urban Meyer suspended for the first three games of 2018, Ohio State turned to Ryan Day. Day breezed to a 3-0 record, and stepped into the full-time role when Meyer retired. At age 39, having never been a head coach, Day led the perennial power built by Meyer and so many others before him.

Day’s first year previewed what the future may hold. OSU won every regular season game by double digits. Day’s offense was explosive and a simplified defensive scheme allowed the talent on the roster to shine. Big wins continued on the recruiting trail.

When COVID-19 hit and Ohio State’s season was on the brink, Day evolved. Like OSU coaches before him — John Wilce who led a roster depleted by World War I and the Spanish Flu, or Paul Brown and Carroll Widdoes who coached the Buckeyes during World War II — Day rose to the occasion. His Buckeyes were outspoken supporting Black Lives Matter and in the push for playing a fall season.

Over the years, OSU has succeeded as a program in part because it has found leaders that constantly reinvented what it meant to be a Buckeye and play at Ohio State. For OSU’s first coach Alexander Lilly in 1890, football was a gathering among friends looking for a good time. For John Wilce in the 1910s and 1920s, the game was a contest among mostly Ohio kids seeking a Big Ten championship. For Woody Hayes, football was a drive for perfection in pursuit of besting the team up north. For Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, the game was a showcase of some of the nation’s most talented athletes in the hunt for a national championship.

Some OSU coaches only last a year, some decades longer. Stacked between are the wins and losses, the ups and downs — the events that can be controlled and those that can’t. A small part of the world around us playing out under a blue-gray autumn sky — and on a stage that’s larger than life. Ryan Day has the keys to the program that 23 others had before him. Let’s enjoy the ride to come.