We’re in the thick of Subjective List Season, where sportswriters of all kinds and sorts try their hands at ranking everything there is to rank – all for the sake of offseason content.
A particularly common source for these rankings are college football coaches, and that’s become a bit of a problem for the list makers, because nobody seems to have any idea what to do about Ryan Day.
And really, it is quite a predicament.
I mean, where do you rank a guy who has no head coaching experience (besides a three-game stint when he still wasn't even the permanent head coach) yet is widely considered a rising star in the industry and inherits a team that's a preseason national title contender with an absolutely loaded roster?
The answer – for some – is that you don't.
247 Sports and CBS Sports put together a list of their top-25 Power Five coaches and neither one included Day on the list – which is fair, and also absolves them of rationalizing his placement below or above certain coaches.
But with some lists, that wasn't really an option, like when you're ranking every head coach, every Power 5 head coach, or all of the coaches in the Big Ten. And that's where it gets hilarious.
Ryan Day: Day steps into an interesting situation. To paraphrase my CBSSports.com colleague, Barton Simmons, Day is like a kid waking up on his 16th birthday to find a Bugatti in the driveway. We don't even know for sure if he can drive yet, but he's got a hell of a car to learn in. Clearly, Day is set up in the best possible situation, and while he's 3-0 as a head coach, Urban Meyer was still involved with the program. Now Day is on his own and it's time for him to put his stamp on things, and it's important to remember it's not always as easy as it might seem. People could have argued that Luke Fickell was in a good situation in 2011. He inherited a program from Jim Tressel that had gone 12-1 the season before and had won at least 10 games in every season since 2005. Fickell went 6-7 and was then replaced by Urban Meyer. As nice as Ohio State is, it's not a self-driving car.
And folks ran into the same problems when ranking him nationally, but dealt with them quite a bit differently.
Bill Bender of Sporting News seemed to give day the benefit of the doubt, ranking him as the No. 22 coach in the country before he even coaches his first game as the permanent leader of the Buckeyes:
No. 22: Ryan Day, Ohio State: Day inherits the top program in the Big Ten from Urban Meyer, and that alone makes it a challenge to rank him. This might be too low considering the innovations Day made as an assistant to the offense, but he'll have to prove as head coach it in the big games. There are five Big Ten coaches ranked ahead of him, and all of them are on the schedule this season. We'll make him prove it that way.
CBS Sports, meanwhile took a very wait-and-see approach in their cumulative rankings of all 65 Power 5 head coaches, ranking Day at No. 45:
45 Ryan Day: Well, it seems Day's 3-0 record as a head coach proved more to some of my fellow voters than others. Personally, I had Day at No. 62, solely due to the lack of a lengthy resume. He is undoubtedly stepping into a great spot, and -- spoiler alert! -- if other spots in our rankings are any indication, it could do wonders for his ranking in a hurry.
It's really hard to argue one way or another here, but the rankings are still amusing.
First, while most seem cautious about ranking a coach who's proven very little too high, they also seem reluctant to rank him rank him too low. And in those wait-and-see situations, a coach with no résumé ends up ranked ahead of guys who've been coaching for multiple years. I guess the idea is that Day's proven nothing, but they've at least proven to be bad?
On the flip side, even though it's true that he's proven very little, it's hilarious to see him ranked below guys almost nobody would actually hire ahead of him, like Kirk Ferentz, P.J. Fleck, Paul Chryst – or pretty much just the rest of the Big Ten.
Ultimately though, none of this matters and Day's going to prove where he belongs on these lists very soon, one way or another. But it is amusing that Day seems to have broken one of the most tried-and-true sources of offseason content.