Urban Meyer's administrative leave of absence can be viewed from a number of different angles and viewpoints. However, it was who Ohio State chose to name as its acting head coach that could say more about the situation.
Ryan Day is now Ohio State's acting head coach in Meyer's absence, a move that might seem odd to some considering the Buckeyes have two former Division I head coaches on their staff already as coordinators. Greg Schiano spent 10 years as the head coach at Rutgers before coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons, while Kevin Wilson was at the helm of Indiana from 2011-2016.
Both have been surrounded by their own controversies over the last year, however, which is likely part of the reason neither was given the title that ultimately went to Day. Schiano was met with an angry fan base when he was nearly named the head coach at Tennessee, while Wilson was fired from Indiana following allegations that he and his staff mistreated their players.
In addition to all of that, Day has earned nothing but praise from Meyer since he arrived on campus last season, replacing Tim Beck as quarterbacks coach in 2017.
Day's Coaching Profile
- Tight Ends Coach: New Hampshire: (2002)
- Tight Ends Coach: Boston College (2003–2004)
- Graduate Assistant: Florida (2005)
- Graduate Assistant: Temple (2006)
- Wide Receivers Coach: Boston College (2007–2011)
- Wide Receivers Coach: Temple (2012)
- Offensive Coordinator & Wide Receivers Coach: Boston College (2013–2014)
- Offensive Coordinator & Quarterbacks Coach: Philadelphia Eagles (2015)
- Quarterbacks Coach: San Francisco 49ers (2016)
- Quarterbacks Coach: Ohio State (2017-2018)
"Ryan is clearly a very talented coach who has been an outstanding addition to our program," Meyer said in January after Day was promoted to offensive coordinator. "He has been approached by other schools numerous times this offseason for coordinator and head coach opportunities, and by the National Football League for a coordinator opportunity. I am pleased that he has elected to continue to work on this staff and to lead, mentor and coach the terrific young men we have in this program."
Day's name was connected to the head coach opening at Mississippi State during the offseason after former Meyer assistant Dan Mullen bolted for the same position at Florida. Day reportedly turned it down to stay another year at Ohio State after earning a promotion on Meyer's staff.
Widely regarded as one of the brightest young coaches in football today, Day came to Ohio State after two years as a quarterbacks coach in the NFL for both the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers under Chip Kelly.
Day's promotion could serve as an indication that Ohio State is preparing more for the long-term than short. At age 39, Day is a coach on the rise with plenty of potential, while Schiano and Wilson have been surrounded by controversy and are both in their fifties. If Meyer is fired or resigns in the following weeks, there is a much higher chance that Day could be a long-term solution whereas Schiano and Wilson are more likely short-term fixes.
Should Ohio State put together a successful season under Day, it would save the Buckeyes time in the offseason vetting other head coaching candidates. In addition, it would help on the recruiting trail as well, keeping players they are currently pursuing interested in coming to Columbus rather than bolting to another school. If Schiano or Wilson were appointed acting head coach, there is a significant chance Day would end up as a head coach elsewhere next season, and possibly take some of Ohio State's targets with him.
Naming Day the acting head coach in Meyer's absence could suggest that Meyer's tenure at Ohio State is coming, or has already come to, an end. However, if that is the case, naming Day the head coach was the best possible option when setting up for the future of the program.