Ryan Day’s first year at Ohio State impressed just about everybody, including his boss.
Athletic director Gene Smith wrote in last summer’s performance review that Day “exceeded expectations” in his first season as Ohio State’s head coach. Both the academic and athletic success of the program, he wrote, “was extraordinary.”
Smith’s comments were among those in the 2019-20 performance reviews of Ohio State's football coaches, obtained by Eleven Warriors on Friday via a public records request that was initially filed last summer.
Smith touted an undefeated record up until the College Football Playoff, a Big Ten championship and the team being “positioned to play for a National Title” before what he described as a “heartbreaking loss” to Clemson in Day's performance review. He mentioned that 25 football players earned degrees, 10 players were picked in the NFL draft and the team had a 3.274 grade-point average. Smith also wrote that the class Day “recruited this year will bring tremendous talent as we move into the future.”
“Above all, your program is about your culture,” Smith wrote in Day’s performance review to recap a meeting they had on June 17, 2020. “You have instilled a culture of integrity, family, and hard work that guides our student athletes to be successful both on and off the field. As we head into these times of uncertainty due to the pandemic, and calls for social justice reform, it is that strong culture that allows us to support these young men and help them manage the adversity they are going through. This will not be an easy road moving forward, but with your leadership guiding our team, I couldn’t be more optimistic about what our future brings. It will be more important than ever this upcoming year to focus on the mental health of our student-athletes. These are unprecedented times they are going through and there is no playbook for how to help them navigate it. We need to ensure they are connected to the resources we provide, and also staying connected to each other. Team and family are important now more than ever.”
Eleven Warriors also received the 2019-20 performance reviews of 16 others who work for Ohio State’s football program, including all the assistant coaches going into the 2020 season. They were all signed last summer but weren’t released as public records until this week.
Because the reviews are largely based on the happenings of the 2019 season, here are some abbreviated highlights of the various reviews.
Mark Pantoni gave himself three personal goals for 2020-21:
- “Bring in a top recruiting class that fits the STRONG culture of our locker room”
- “Continue to be innovative and creative with our social media team (graphics, videos, branding)”
- “Make sure we have the most organized and comprehensive on-campus visits for prospects and their families”
- Brian Voltolini wrote that Pantoni “is the best in the country at what he does.” Also from Voltolini in Pantoni’s review: “With the NIL coming in the near future, it will be interesting to see how this will change the landscape but we have faith that Mark's team will be on top of what is needed to do to bring in the the best overall student athlete for OSU.”
- Greg Studrawa was proud of his line's on-field production, writing that “players really came together as a unit,” and he thought he was “doing well” in recruiting but "must maintain momentum.”
- Larry Johnson gave himself a 5 out of 5 in terms of his overall rating as a coach and wrote one goal: “To continue to enhance my development as a coach!”
- Kevin Wilson wrote that the right ends were the “best academic unit on team.” His evaluation of his own 2019-20 season as a coach: "Good year, continue to grow + lead, get a championship.”
- Matt Barnes’ six goals for 2020: Players in good academic standing, lead Big Ten in all special teams stats, lead Big Ten in total defense, contribute to No. 1 recruiting class, win Big Ten, win national championship.
- Parker Fleming, before he was hired this offseason as special teams coordinator, listed earning a full-time coaching job as his No. 1 professional development goal. Quinn Tempel’s comments on Fleming: “Parker continues to do a great job assisting with Special Teams and providing value within the building. Parker works diligently and is extremely reliable to complete the tasks given to him by the Special Teams Coordinator while helping with various other projects. We are lucky to have someone like Parker a part of the staff and look forward to his continue growth within the profession.”
- Tony Alford gave his overall performance a 4 out of 5 but rated his productivity in recruiting a 2 out of 5 last summer, marking the lowest self-reported grade among the coaches. That came after Ohio State missed out on several top targets at running back in the recruiting class of 2020.
Brian Hartline wrote down three goals:
- “Win the rivalry game, Big Ten championship and the national championship”
- “Removing all doubt of WRU”
- “Unit GPA 3.0”
- Corey Dennis wrote that he was “looking forward to growth as a coach.” Among the areas to work on listed on his performance review: “Recruit best QB in country,” which he's currently in position to do for the 2022 class with Quinn Ewers.
- Kerry Coombs included coaching the “top defense in country” in a section of what he wanted to work on prior to Ohio State struggling mightily to defend the pass last season.
- Mickey Marotti wrote that COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order was the “most challenging thing in career.”
View full performance reviews: Ryan Day, Larry Johnson, Greg Mattison, Al Washington, Tony Alford, Kevin Wilson, Brian Hartline, Corey Dennis, Kerry Coombs, Matt Barnes, Greg Studrawa, Parker Fleming, Mark Pantoni, Mickey Marotti, Brian Voltolini.