Presser Bullets: Ryan Day Meets with Media One Day After the Big Ten Cancels Fall Football Season

By Zack Carpenter on August 12, 2020 at 12:48 pm

The Big Ten announced the cancellation of its fall college football season on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Ryan Day met with the media to discuss his thoughts on the cancellation, how his players are handling it, what his message was to the team and how Ohio State is going to move forward.

Here is a rundown of what Day talked about throughout the Zoom press conference:

  • Day found out the season was canceled from Gene Smith and Kristina M. Johnson, and Day says he and Smith informed the team afterward.
  • Day: “We woke up this morning with a focus on what's next, and that's really the spring.”
  • Day said his emotions regarding yesterday's decision include devastating, sad, angry and frustrated. But he's trying to keep his focus on moving forward and preparing for what's next.
  • On whether Justin Fields would sit out the spring: "I think Justin wants to see what this schedule is." He says it's their job to put the spring plan together quickly so someone like Fields can make a decision.
  • Day said he's hopeful the NFL will move the draft back to accommodate a spring season. He said he believes a plan for the spring needs to be determined as quickly as possible so they can provide answers for Fields and others who might be considering opting out.
  • Day: “We've got to start it as soon as we can. ... Starting the first week of January would be the best way to go with an eight-week season.” He said he's hopeful the mid-year enrolling freshmen would be able to play. He said he's had extensive conversations with Gene Smith about the potential schedule in 2021.
  • Day said he's not concerned about roster management or negative effects on the 2021 recruiting class as long as Ohio State is playing in January, February and March. If the Buckeyes are not playing by then, he says he might be concerned about those effects.
  • Day said each player will have an individualized plan for what they need to do this fall to prepare for a potential spring season.
  • Day said Ohio State has the resources for players like Fields and Shaun Wade to continue to physically develop in preparation for the pros: "We have everything in place here in Columbus to help those guys. We have the best strength coach in America and all the resources they need." 
  • Day says he is not concerned about players transferring to a program in another conference that might play football this fall. He says he doesn't see how it's possible or safe to go play and learn a new system elsewhere so quickly. Also mentions the uncertainty with getting a waiver.
  • Day referenced that the way you deal with adversity is what reveals character, and he says that his players will be able to use this experience for the rest of their lives to look back on and use as another character-building experience. 
  • On yesterday's meeting with his players: “One of the hardest conversations I've ever had to have. Certainly the hardest meeting I've ever had to have.” Said it was hard to see guys like Jonathon Cooper and Justin Hilliard and how much it hurt them not to play this fall.
  • Day acknowledged he is concerned that players might not follow the COVID-19 protocols as stringently now that they don't have a fall season to work toward.
  • Day says he believes the Big Ten "has to play" in January because otherwise he believes the conference would be at a recruiting disadvantage.
  • Day said “nothing has come from the Big Ten" regarding how to move forward with a plan for the fall. He said the program is already putting together its own plan through September.
  • He did not completely shut the door on playing this fall: "That's a fluid situation. I know Gene and I talked again this morning at length about this." He says "we are looking at everything." Smith said on Tuesday that Ohio State would not be looking to play outside of the Big Ten structure.
  • Day said the 2021 and 2022 recruiting classes "have stuck together" and "have been great" throughout this entire process. Says the communication has been great and that there is some excitement about there possibly being two seasons in one calendar year. He's hopeful the 2021 early enrollees will have a chance to play in the spring.
  • He said he's going to fight "really hard" for mid-year enrollees to play both in the spring and fall of 2021 and have it only count as one year of eligibility.
  • Day: “This team is special. It's special because of the leadership, it's special because of the character ... it could have been a once-in-a-lifetime team ... there was just something about this team that had it. They had it.”
  • Day: "It's gonna be hard to have visits throughout the fall with everything going on, to bring recruits and their families on campus. ... It's probably not prudent to do that." He said it's been frustrating for recruits to not be able to visit campus. He said he doesn't believe the recruiting calendar – including the early signing period – can or should be changed.
  • Day said it wouldn't be feasible to play a full schedule starting in March and then play again in the fall, but he thinks an 8- or 9-game schedule beginning in January is realistic.
  • Day says he and Jonathon Cooper "had a lot of hard conversations last season" that were emotional in determining the redshirt last year.
  • He says he shared some of his own life experiences with Cooper: "Life can take you to your knees, and this sport will take you to your knees." But Day says it can teach you a lot about life and that Cooper has a bright future and will come out stronger because of this experience. 
  • There are a lot of responsibilities that come with being Ohio State's head coach, "but the No. 1 thing is being a leader."
  • Day says he still believes there can be a College Football Playoff in the spring: "We haven't given up hope on that."
  • Day says they are continually asking to find out if it would be feasible to play outside of the Big Ten structure.
  • If there is no spring season, Day believes each player should get an extra year of eligibility.
  • Day says the Big Ten's testing and travel protocols weren't set: "Because of that, I wasn't ready to play a game. However, I thought we could get there." He says the decision was made this week, so "we'll never quite know." So now, he says, they move on.
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