Ohio State placed seventh-year head coach Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave on Wednesday evening as the university investigates a report suggesting he knew about domestic violence allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith in 2015, which he publicly denied knowledge of during last week’s Big Ten Media Days.
As the school determines whether or not Meyer was made aware of the situation, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day will assume the duty of acting head coach. He’ll now take command of the most talented roster in the Big Ten — if not the country — for the immediate future.
While everything is sorted out, one of the staff’s biggest concerns is how the investigation will impact the Buckeyes’ recruiting efforts. In the short term, Day, director of player personnel Mark Pantoni and the rest of the assistants are working to explain the situation to their committed prospects. Meyer has even reached out to a few, as well, and the general consensus is that it doesn’t impact their respective pledges.
Of course, other programs have started to negatively recruit against Ohio State — which makes sense given the uncertainty surrounding the program. But there is a lot of confidence among the staff and the commits that the issue will be resolved in the coming weeks.
With that said, the Buckeyes are among the finalists for a pair of four-star prospects who are set to announce their college decisions in the coming weeks.
St. Louis wide receiver Marcus Washington is set to make his college decision between Missouri and Ohio State on Aug. 7. Sources have indicated yesterday’s news may now alter his timeline, though the Tigers are the perceived favorite in his recruitment.
Texas athlete Peyton Powell, meanwhile, is set to choose among Baylor, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas Christian on Aug. 13. All signs continued to point to him ending up with the Buckeyes based on his relationship with defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, but it’s still something to monitor in the coming days and weeks, especially given the Sooners’ late offer and his relationship to the program.
Keep in mind, it might be a bit premature to speculate on what could happen if Meyer — the third-winningest coach in college football — is not retained because the university determines he was made aware of the allegations and then lied about his knowledge of the situation. But even if that occurs, Ohio State is built to weather the storm both on the field and on the recruiting trail.
Day is a rising star in the coaching profession who turned down several other opportunities — including head coaching positions — to remain on the Buckeyes’ staff. He’s played an integral role in several commitments, including five-star wide receiver Garrett Wilson, five-star center Harry Miller and four-star quarterbacks Dwan Mathis and Jack Miller III (2020).
Veteran coaches like Schiano, offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Kevin Wilson and defensive line coach Larry Johnson have the experience necessary to keep the train rolling along, while the relationships they’ve built with prospects and their families and coaches are arguably even more important than those Meyer has forged.
Ohio State has always been viewed as a program that can withstand the loss of any coach, both on the field and in its recruiting efforts. And if the winning culture and the concept of creating opportunities for life outside of football remain intact, there’s no reason to think that won’t be the case moving forward.