New Year, New Coach: How Can Ryan Day Make Ohio State His Own?

By David Wertheim on June 29, 2019 at 8:45 am
Ryan Day

One of the deepest college football tradition-laden programs lies in Columbus, Ohio.

From the days of Ohio Field with head coach John Wilce, Ohio State has always had traditions. Throughout the years, "Hang on Sloopy," "OH-IO," and the corporate overlords in A-Deck not getting into the atmosphere are some of the greatest traditions in college football.

Ryan Day comes in after Urban Meyer went on an incredible eight-year run which saw the Buckeyes go 83-9 overall, 7-0 against Michigan, and win the 2014 National Championship. 

Obviously, there is a lot of tradition. How can Day leave his mark on the program by himself, while at the same time keeping the old? 

First, let's start with the team that he will put on the field. The greatest impact that you will ever have as a head coach in any sport at any sort of competitive level is the amount of success you have in the win column. Day's biggest task will be continuing to do more of this.

Of course, Day was the head coach in that game, meaning he is 1-0 against ranked opponents thus far as a head coach. He needs to keep that up this season, in a year where the Big Ten looks like it will be strong once again. It goes without saying that winning is the most important thing, but it obviously really is. With the talent that is on the roster this year, winning shouldn't be an issue...

In terms of other traditions, they will all still be there. No traditions really died with Urban, save for the "Urban Liar" signs at visiting stadiums (although I'm sure somebody will still bring the one they made for the last time the two teams played) and Urbz calling a player "the best I've ever been around" at a press conference. Those may have died. But nothing else does. "Hang on Sloopy" is still a thing, as are Quick Cals, as is the Buckeyes playing an obvious trap game in the middle of the season (Friday night at Northwestern, yikes).

But Day has the charisma, the talent, and the brainpower to find ways to make Ohio State his own. He has kind of already started it. He and his wife Christina created a foundation for the advocation of mental health with Nationwide Children's Hospital, for starters.

On the field (or on the trail, I should say) Day has slightly changed Ohio State's recruiting approach: he changed the "big" event of the summer, which used to be Friday Night Lights (a one-night camp in the stadium where members of the public and reporters were allowed to attend) into the Buckeye Bash & BBQ, which was closed off from the public and the media. Day has already parlayed that momentum into the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes, which are sitting pretty right now. 

Another way Day can instantly become popular among the fanbase is doing what Chris Holtmann: exposing himself. While it is not as necessary for Day to do it as it was for Holtmann (simply due to the success of the OSU program when Day took over in addition to the increased visibility as opposed to basketball), public engagement and acknowledgement can do wonders for the popularity of a man amongst a rabid fanbase that is (rightfully) disappointed anytime the local team comes up short of a national title.

It will be tough for Day in the beginning. It always is tough for a new coach, but it will be even tougher for Day since he was not an Ohio-born, established veteran in the profession. But if he can win on the field and in the community, the skies are endless for the popularity of Ryan Day in Columbus.

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