Ryan Day has been the Ohio State head coach for just 63 days and has already made huge impactful changes.
Under his watch in the last 63 days, Ohio State has landed five-stars Justin Fields and Zach Harrison, poached two of Michigan's best coaches, and had a number of other impactful moves.
One of these moves was Day's announcement that he and the program would be bringing back Student Appreciation Day on Saturday, March 23.
“The Ohio State students represent the most passionate and loyal fan bases in all of college football,” Day said in a release, “and the players and the members of this program want to thank them for their support. I can’t wait to meet our students on the field afterward, and I can’t wait for our students to meet the players and to greet the new members of our staff.”
The Student Appreciation Day practice, started by Urban Meyer, returns after a one-year hiatus. At this event, students will be able to receive free food, take photos with Brutus and the Big Ten/Rose Bowl championship trophies, and meet Buckeye players. This practice will also be open to the media.
You may be thinking "oh, this is just a nice little gesture by Day," but there could perhaps be a bigger picture here.
Of course, you may remember Chris Holtmann being hired by Ohio State and immediately instituting new programs to try and increase student involvement in the basketball program, doing things such as giving away free Cane's chicken, and holding a practice open to students. In addition, Holtmann has made the Big Ten-ACC challenge game free for students to attend each of the past two seasons.
Now, while it is clear that the Ohio State football program does not necessarily need a huge boost of student influx, as the students sections in the stands are continually full and student involvement doesn't seem to be severely lacking, it stands to reason that Day would want to get off on the right foot with the student body, especially if he intends to be in Columbus for a long time.
Obviously, Day is not going to give away free chicken or tickets (simply because he doesn't need to) but student involvement in a program can go a long way. It seems that the best programs have a lot of student involvement, such as Alabama, where student ticket demand is so high, that underclassmen have a limit on the number of games they can purchase each season.
Judging by the students that I have talked to around campus, it seems that most seem to like the Day hire, but are obviously concerned (like most Buckeye fans, I would imagine) how the program would continue from the consistency that Urban Meyer offered while he was the head honcho in Columbus.
There have certainly been a ton of early successes for Day, as he has landed two elite prospects (one of whom will be under center this season), pulled a four-star offensive lineman from Hawaii, and poached two of Michigan's top coaches (and recruiters). Nevertheless, Day still has one group he has to gain confidence from, and that is those walking to and from class every day.
As a student myself, I like the job that Day has done so far. It seems as though he is off to an incredible start, and I for one am appreciative that this Student Appreciation Day is back in Columbus, as this will be the first time I will be able to attend (since they did not hold the program last year).
There are still other things that Day can do to increase his likability among students, but he is off to a good start so far. As always, though, the results on the field will ultimately be the biggest factor.