I wonder what Buckeye fans think about the “big picture” per Ryan Day’s performance to date? What are your biggest concerns?
To that end, you can read what follows if you'd like—it’s probably goes into more detail than most attention spans prefer, so it’s strictly optional—simply disregard it if you like and chip in with any “big picture” thoughts you might have about Ryan Day as a coach, play-caller, and leader of OSU’s program (good or bad)…
For now, the consensus is that Ryan Day was “out-coached” yesterday, and I certainly can’t disagree with that assessment, although it definitely wasn’t because Sharon Moore is a genius and did anything special—all he did was continue with the exact same game plan that TTUN has used all year.
Mind you, that’s not a criticism—most often, that’s the best strategy for any endeavor, which is to say, simply do what you do best and don’t out-think yourself, and what TTUN’s do best is call a relatively vanilla, predictable game with a couple of wrinkles thrown in, and to that end, you have to give credit to their players who successfully executed one of the most predicable styles and strategies in all of college football.
Granted, I doubt this approach will take them very far in the playoffs, because they’re unlikely to play two consecutive games against an underperforming coach, such as Ryan Day (at least yesterday). And while Day wasn’t horrible and could’ve called a worse game, mostly, I think it’s fair to say that the only guy who out-coached Ryan Day was himself, and to that end, my biggest concern with Ryan Day is…
1) out-coaching himself has become a persistent pattern, at least against top-five teams (against which he’s now 1-7, even though, oddly enough, he’s got one of the best records vs ranked / top-25 teams, but top 5? Ouch!), and this pattern seems to reflect the fact that while Day does so many things at an elite level (organization, recruitment, development, beating teams he’s supposed to beat as good as, oh, let’s say… James Franklin, etc.), BUT…
2) I can’t help but wonder if he might be the sort of guy that embodies the cynical saying, “It’s always sumthin’ with this guy... if it’s not one thing, it’s always gonna be another.”
To that end, it’s fairly damning thing that I see is that he keeps needing to “fix” significant problems only to see new ones crop up, sort of like the little boy plugging up the damn with one of his fingers only to see another three pop up elsewhere, that is, until finally, the damn bursts.
Fortunately, I’m confident in Day to eventually fix most, if not all, problems, BUT… perhaps more damningly, it seems like many of his problems are (far too often) of his own making, such as needlessly being too conservative in big games, which runs entirely counter to how he handles games when he’s at his best.
Thing is, as pretty much everyone agrees, and indeed, fears, when Ryan Day is a creative and bold play caller, he can beat anyone. In which case, why doesn’t Day do what he does best (just like TTUN focuses on what they do best), and then let the chips fall where they may?
Or, as Bear Bryant once famously said, “dance with who brung ya’,” which is to say, when you play big games, it’s just like when you bring a date to a dance—i.e., you don’t suddenly ditch her and starting dancing with all of the other girls, just as you shouldn’t suddenly alter your strategy in a big game to no longer do what you do best—you just don’t dance with alternative strategies that are less creative, more conservative, and so on, all of which serve to minimize your strengths.
Moreover, another damning “big picture” concern isn’t merely that Day always seems to be fixing major problems, because if that were the case, one would like to think that eventually, all of his problems would be fixed. No, the big concern here is that no sooner does Day fix a problem than he creates a new one that shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place, such as hiring Kerry Coombs, or else hiring (then promoting!) Parker Fleming, which reflects a truly mystifying level of blindness or stubbornness…
Also worryingly, his in-game coaching seems to have become increasingly more suspect over time, whether he’s making time management mistakes that keep adding up, or else personnel mistakes, such as, for example, famously being the last guy in the stadium to notice that Trey Sermon was gaining about 12 yards a play vs Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game a couple years back.
Seem like we saw an echo of that yesterday, if not all year long, where he might have been the last guy in the stadium to realize that he wasn’t doing anybody a favor (except TTUN) by having Treyveon Henderson run into a big pile of guys in the middle of the field, just as he failed to notice that Chip Trayanum was running around the end for 7 to 10 yards a crack.
You can’t help but wonder—how does a guy who CALLED those successful plays not even notice his own success?!!!
To cite another famous example, he torched TTUN with crossing routes to put up 62 points on them—the biggest total ever against their program—and yet, he’s never gone back to it. Never really even tried.
Just because Don Brown no longer coaches their D?
Or, hey, maybe it’s because teams pick up on your tendencies, but then… so what?
Look, by now, I'm pretty sure the secret’s out per TTUN’s tendencies. In fact, they not only don’t mask their tendencies, they take great pride in telling you exactly what they’re going to do and then doing it—daring you to stop what they do best.
I believe they call that a team identity.
Other call it confidence.
A lack of fear.
As an added note per crossing routes, frankly, nobody has ever really stopped OSU’s crossing routes, and there’s a pretty good explanation as to why that might be, as well as why we would likely continue to be successful at it:
Nobody has OSU’s combination of great receivers with QBs that possess accurate arms. That hasn't changed, so why abandon what worked?
Again, why can't Day at least attempt to keep doing what he does best?
All of this begs a bigger picture question about Day: Why doesn’t he fully recognize his biggest strengths then play to them? Or, to put it another way, why doesn’t Day recognize that his biggest weakness is his inability to recognize his biggest strengths?
I don’t have an answer for that. Maybe you do.
A common speculation is that it’s because he’s taking on too many responsibilities as a combination Head Coach / Offensive Coordinator.
To his credit, he’s already identified this problem as an issue that needs to be fixed (plus, Gene Smith, Urban Meyer and just about every other successful coach have reminded Day of the need to fix this problem), yet the issue lingers despite Day appointing Hartline to be THE play caller this year, which he then backed off from (out of fear?), and as a result, this might explain yesterday’s outcome as much as anything.
I guess we’ll never know.
Still, there we have it—another major problem of Ryan Day’s own making, just like the glaring Parker Fleming problem.
And while we also saw an ongoing linebacker coverage problem yesterday (one that has existed for, oh, four years running, which saw no less than two RBs and one TE being converted to LBs to try and fix the problem), one hopes that Day will fix it by recruiting a better corps of linebackers, right? After all, this problem was identified over 3 years ago (nearly a full cycle of development at this position).
BUT guess what?
While Day could've fixed the problem by hiring James Laurenatis as a full-time coach, he still hasn’t gotten around to adequately addressing it, so that Laurenaitis, still being a mere junior staffer, isn't allowed to travel on the recruiting trail to sign top linebacking talent, and still worse, it’s all because his coaching spot is occupied by none other than Parker Fleming, who's one of state's highest-paid employees!
The big picture result might be that Ohio State sees underperforming linebackers for the next couple of years owing to a problem that Ryan Day didn’t merely fail to fix… no, he will have actually CAUSED the problem precisely because he identified the problem years ago yet did nothing about it. Nothing.
It's as if Day is, ask was, unwittingly begging for this problem to bite him down the road, which… is exactly what we saw yesterday.
I could go on and on about yesterday’s glaring oversights, but in the big picture, the good news is that Ryan Day might be a master at perpetually fixing problems, however, alas, the bad news is that Ryan Day might also be a master at perpetually causing new problems.
As I see it, the biggest, big picture shortcoming for Day just might be the oldest one in the book: Know Thyself.
Sadly, Ryan Day doesn’t seem to realize what he’s good at, and as a result, he tries to be what he’s not, which is an invitation to failure, and unfortunately, these problems continually show up at THE most important times in THE most important games.