Ryan Day Becomes Ohio State's First Big Ten Coach of the Year Since 1979

By Colin Hass-Hill on December 3, 2019 at 5:30 pm
Ryan Day

For the first time since the year Ryan Day was born, Ohio State has a Big Ten coach of the year.

Media members that cover the conference voted Day as the Big Ten's Dave McClain coach of the year, making him the first winner of any Big Ten coach of the year award from Ohio State since Earle Bruce in 1979.

The conference's coaches, however, voted Minnesota's P.J. Fleck as the Hayes-Schembechler coach of the year.

Since the Big Ten began awarding coach of the year in 1972, Ohio State has had three winners – Woody Hayes in 1973 and 1975 and Bruce in 1979 – but none in the past 40 years. Since Bruce's award four decades ago, Iowa has had coaches win it six times, and five schools – Michigan, Penn State, Illinois, Northwestern and Wisconsin – have won it five times. Only three other schools – Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska – hadn't had someone named coach of the year in the past 40 years, and they were each added to the Big Ten recently.

Day ended that drought, and received a recognition that Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel never did, by guiding Ohio State to a dominant, undefeated regular season that features a nation-best average margin of victory of 38.1 points.

In an interview with Big Ten Network following the award announcement, Day said he was “honored and humbled” by the recognition, though he deflected most of the praise to his team.

“I appreciate being recognized, it means the world to me and my family as well, but at the end of the day, it's a we,” Day said.

Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley said Tuesday that he believes Day deserved to be coach of the year not only for the Big Ten, but all of college football.

"First-year head coach takes over a job that obviously is one of the best jobs there is," Hafley said. "But first-year head coach goes undefeated through the regular season, has some things he has to go through during the season, the way he handled it, the way these players play for him, the way these players care about him. Take out the record. The way he treats these players and this staff and the way these players play for him and the way these coaches coach for him and then combine that with the record, I don't think there's a better coach in the country. And you can debate me on that, but that's how I feel."

The Buckeyes never stumbled in the first 12 games. They crushed No. 19 Cincinnati, 42-0, in the second game of the season, and waxed Wisconsin, 38-7. With Day at the helm, they beat Penn State at home by 11 points then went on the road the following week and cruised to a 56-27 win in the ever-important rivalry game with Michigan.

With the Big Ten title game just days away Ohio State ranks No. 1 in the country in points per game (49.9), No. 5 in total yards per game (534.3), No. 4 in points allowed per game (11.8), No. 1 in yards allowed per game (232.3), No. 5 in turnover margin per game (1), No. 1 in third-down conversion efficiency (58.3 percent) and No. 3 in opponent third-down conversion efficiency (27.1 percent). Off the field, aided by an infrastructure built by Meyer, Day currently has top-five recruiting classes for both 2020 and 2021.

Fleck, who won the coaches' vote, led the Golden Gophers to a 10-2 record in the regular season. It was just the program's second time reaching double-digit wins since 1905.

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