For the first time all season, Ryan Day will be able to focus solely on his roles as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when the Buckeyes play their fourth game of the season against Tulane on Saturday.
With Urban Meyer back from his three-game suspension, Day no longer has to balance those responsibilities with the added responsibility of being the acting head coach. But while that does ease the burden on his shoulders a bit, Day says that hasn’t changed the way he’s approaching his job.
“It’s one less thing to worry about,” Day said Wednesday in his first media availability since Meyer’s return. “But the job of coaching the quarterbacks, and working with (fellow offensive coordinator) Kevin (Wilson) and the rest of the guys on the offense, is still a major task. It takes a lot of work. And we get here early in the morning, we leave late at night. We never quite stop thinking about our jobs. So it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re doing the best we can for these kids. So it’ll be the same this week.”
While Day is now able to spend more time working solely with the offense and specifically the quarterbacks, his quarterbacks and other offensive players say he already made sure to invest plenty of time in them even while he was the acting head coach.
“I feel like it’s going to be the same,” said wide receiver K.J. Hill. “He has the same energy, like he did before when Coach Meyer was here and after, so I feel like it’ll be the same.”
One thing that will be different now than it was last year is that Day, who sat next to Wilson in the press box last year as a co-offensive coordinator, will now be calling offensive plays from the sideline (with Wilson still in the booth). Day said he made that move because of the level of comfort he and his quarterbacks developed with being able to interact with one another face-to-face on the field during the first three games this season.
“It just kind of happened organically,” Day said. “We’re in that routine and we just don’t want to change it. I think they like it, and I kind of like it, so we’re going to keep it going.”
Now that Meyer is back overseeing the entire team, Day says he does expect to have more opportunities to work with the quarterbacks and the rest of the offensive players in between Ohio State possessions on Saturday.
“I do think that now, this week, we’ll be able to sit down on the bench with the guys on offense, with the quarterbacks and discuss kind of what happened throughout the last series and make some in-game adjustments right there on the bench,” Day said. “Where maybe the last couple weeks, I wasn’t able to do that because I was kind of watching the defense or watching the special teams and making sure I was ready for that.”
Meyer was already back with the team at practices and in meetings for the past two weeks, so his preparation during the week this week hasn’t changed much at all from the past two weeks. Day believes he will be able to be sharper in working with his quarterbacks, though, now that he doesn’t also have to worry about head coaching responsibilities.
“A little bit more time focusing on just my meetings with the quarterbacks,” Day said of how it helps being able to focus back on his regular roles. “Individual drills on the field, much more detailed and more prepared, when sometimes during the last couple of weeks, it could have been a little better probably.”
“coaching the quarterbacks, and working with Kevin and the rest of the guys on the offense, is still a major task. It takes a lot of work. And we get here early in the morning, we leave late at night. We never quite stop thinking about our jobs. So it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re doing the best we can for these kids.”– Ryan Day
Starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins said he didn’t feel any void in his coaching while Day was acting head coach, as he felt like Day did “a great job” balancing those responsibilities with his responsibility to coach Haskins and the rest of the quarterbacks.
“Coach Day was there,” Haskins said. “He was a little more so busy just because he had to deal with the whole entire team, but as far as going to meetings and being on the field with us every day, he was there.”
Both Day and Haskins said that senior quality control coach Corey Dennis also played a key role in coaching the quarterbacks while Day was acting head coach.
“Basically, he’s like my personal quarterback coach when Coach Day’s not around,” Haskins said of Dennis. “He has everything that Coach Day teaches him and helps me out with it throughout practice, throughout meetings. So he helps me a lot.”
Ohio State’s 3-0 start with Day as acting head coach has already led to heavy speculation about the possibility that Day could become a head coach elsewhere next season, as he will likely now be one of the most hotly pursued coaching candidates in a few months. For now, Day just wants to focus on doing his job at Ohio State and helping the Buckeyes continue to win games.
“Being here is awesome,” said Day, who signed a three-year contract with a $1 million salary in February and also received a $487,000 bonus for his time as acting head coach. “My family’s very appreciative of what the administration’s done here and what (athletic director) Gene Smith and everybody and the whole university, President (Michael) Drake, has done for me and my family. Very humbled for that, and just proud to be here.”
Day is appreciative, though, that Ohio State gave him the opportunity to fill Meyer’s shoes during his suspension, as it allowed Day to earn valuable experience that will help him as his coaching career progresses.
“Early on, it was overwhelming. And then every day it became a little bit more normal. And then the focus was just try to keep it going, keep everything going so that when Coach got back, he was in good shape,” Day said. “So I think every day brought on a new challenge, and there were certain things that I wasn’t ready for and certain things I was ready for, and I think every day was an opportunity for me to get experience in that role.”