Can Ryan Day Motivate His Ohio State Football Teams the Same Way Urban Meyer Did?

By David Regimbal on February 21, 2019 at 2:30 pm
Urban Meyer and Ryan Day

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

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Throughout the course of the 2006 season, Ohio State seemed destined to go wire-to-wire as college football's best team.

The Buckeyes came into the year ranked No. 1 on the strength of an offense that featured eventual Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith, wideouts Tedd Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez and running backs Antonio Pittman and Beanie Wells. The defense lost nine starters but had young guns like James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins primed for breakout years.

They bulldozed their way through the regular season, beating a pair of No. 2 ranked teams in Texas and Michigan, and boasted an average margin of victory of 26 points heading into a BCS National Championship Game appearance where they were a touchdown favorite. 

That's where the Buckeyes ran into the buzzsaw Urban Meyer created.

Most don't need reminded of Florida's 41-14 demolition of Ohio State. Ginn returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but Meyer's Gators responded with 24 unanswered points before the Buckeyes got off the mat. 

Ohio State had one of the most prolific offenses in college football that year, but on that January night in Glendale, Arizona, it was held to a meager 82 total yards, and the Heisman Trophy winner completed just four passes and netted six total yards.

A lot of things went wrong for the Buckeyes that night, but it was clear very early the team wearing blue, orange and white were playing with a different edge.

It wasn't supposed to be that way. In the month leading up to the title game, hardly anyone gave Florida a shot. Meyer used that to his advantage.

"I'd like to thank all those people," Meyer said of Florida's critics. "Our pregame speech was easy."

Those critics were highlighted in more than a pregame speech. During Florida's bowl prep, Meyer created a literal bulletin board filled with articles and quotes that doubted the Gators. The head coach wanted his team playing angry, and he spent the month leading up to the title game making sure he got his wish.

"Nobody never gave us a chance at all. We came here with a chip on our shoulder and something to prove," Gators receiver Dallas Baker said. "Nobody gave us a chance, but finally we can throw up the No. 1."

Meyer brought that same kind of fire to Columbus when he took over the Ohio State football program in 2012. He motivated his Buckeye teams to an overall 83-9 record and collected an undefeated season, three Big Ten titles, a 5-2 record in bowls, one national title and seven consecutive victories over Michigan.

With a new man at the head of the football program, this question arises — can Ryan Day motivate the Buckeyes like Meyer did the last seven years?

Every coach has their own style. Some, like Alabama's Nick Saban, prefer to emphasize discipline. Others, like Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley, focus more on scheme. 

Meyer's calling card was always motivation, and it worked out well for the three-time national title winning coach. Time will tell what kind of coach Day becomes, but he spent the last two years watching one of the best motivators in college football history do his thing.

Day seems more tactician than anything, but if he can fire his Buckeyes up the way Meyer could on a regular basis, Ohio State will be in good hands for years to come.

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