Although the day came and went without any news from the Big Ten on whether there will be a football season this fall, Ryan Day still made his first appearance of the year on the Ohio State IMG Sports Network’s Buckeye Roundtable show on Monday night.
While the Buckeyes still don’t know if and when they’ll be playing their first game of 2020, they have still been practicing at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. They’ve had to adhere to different restrictions than they typically would this time of year – because they’re not currently scheduled to play any games this fall, they’re only allowed 12 hours a week of team activities rather than the usual 20, while they’re not allowed to practice in full pads – but they’re still doing what they can to prepare in hopes the Big Ten will allow them to play this fall, ideally starting sometime in October.
“We are allowed to go on the field and use a football, but we’re not allowed to wear pads. Can’t wear shoulder pads. We can wear helmets. So it’s hard,” Day said during the interview. “That 12 hours encompasses meetings, it encompasses working in the weight room and conditioning and those types of things. So it’s not like a typical work week, when we typically would have 20 hours during the season. So we’re eight hours short, and we’re not able to wear pads.”
One of the toughest parts of it all, of course, has been dealing with the unknown. Under normal circumstances, the Buckeyes would be preparing to play their third game of the season right now. Instead, they’re hoping they’ll be able to play their first game of the season at some point next month, without knowing who they’ll be playing or what any of their schedule will look like.
All offseason, though, the Buckeyes have been rolling with the punches – from spring practice being canceled after just one week, to the season being postponed just five days after the start of preseason camp, Day noted they haven’t had a single full-padded practice since the end of last season – so they’re still adjusting and doing what they can to be as ready as possible whenever they get to play.
“We live in a routine and that routine is built around the next target, the next game, the next thing,” Day said. “Whether it’s spring ball or preseason camp, they come in segments. And not knowing what’s next is something that everybody involved in the program just isn’t used to. We’re not into a routine, and everyone really likes a routine, but certainly football programs, football players, coaches, staff, they’re very comfortable in a routine. So that has been a challenge, not knowing what’s next and not being able to fit into a routine, and we’re having to constantly change that routine.”
One thing Day said has been a constant throughout this unusual offseason, however, has been the support the Buckeyes have received from their fans, and he started his time on air on Monday by thanking those fans for their support.
“It’s been great to see the support that our team has received, obviously year in and year out, but in times like this, you learn a lot about who you have for fans. It’s been unbelievable to see their support, and our team really feels it,” Day said. “They’ve been energized for that during this time, and they’re working really, really hard, so that if they do have an opportunity to play soon, that they’ll be ready.”
”Football programs, football players, coaches, staff, they’re very comfortable in a routine. So that has been a challenge, not knowing what’s next and not being able to fit into a routine, and we’re having to constantly change that routine.”– Ryan Day on dealing with the unknowns
While the vast majority of the team has continued to practice despite the ongoing uncertainty, the Buckeyes lost two of their star players over the past four days, as cornerback Shaun Wade announced he would begin preparing for the 2021 NFL draft on Monday just three days after right guard Wyatt Davis made the same announcement. Day didn’t give any indication on Monday that he would expect them back if Ohio State ends up being able to play in October, but he did praise both of them for what they brought to the program while predicting both of them will have success at the next level.
“Wyatt and Shaun, it’s hard on those guys,” Day said. “They were obviously really excited they came back to win a championship. They have bright futures no matter what happens. And nothing but respect for those guys. They got a lot of great football ahead of them.”
Because the Buckeyes didn’t have a game to play this past Saturday and don’t have a game to prepare for this upcoming Saturday, Day had the opportunity to watch more NFL action on Sunday than he normally would during the season, and he was proud to see many former Ohio State players making their mark on the league in Week 1.
“It’s just unbelievable to see the amount of guys who are doing great in the NFL,” Day said. “A lot of that is tribute to the work that is done in our strength and conditioning program, the toughness and the accountability that’s built in the offseason program. I mentioned that to our team today. And so, yeah, obviously really great to see that.”