When Ryan Day fired back at Lou Holtz over comments the former Notre Dame head coach made questioning Ohio State’s physicality in big games, he stated it came from a place of love for his team.
“I’m emotional about this for a reason,” Day told NBC after Ohio State’s 17-14 win over the Fighting Irish. “A lot of people question these kids and say a lot of things about them. I love them. When someone attacks your family, to come in and win like this, it’s special.”
On Wednesday, that’s a love Ohio State’s players said they felt. They didn't need to see their coach have an emotional outpour on national television to know that he cares for them, but they stand behind Day’s emotions and the things he said.
“I fully support everything Coach Day said and everything that he’s going to say in the future,” Ohio State wide receiver Emeka Egbuka said. “That’s my head coach. We’re all going to rally behind him and we believe he can get us to where we want to be.”
McCord felt the authenticity in Day’s comments. He wanted to make it known that the feeling was mutual, and given the chance he and his teammates would go to bat for Day in the same way.
“It means a lot,” McCord said. “I think every single guy on this team has Coach Day’s back, and we all know that he has ours. And for him to go do that, I think it showed his true emotion and how he feels about this team. I think that fired the guys up a lot. You don’t really see too many head coaches after a game like that show that type of emotion, and for him to do that on that type of a stage, it showed everyone on the team how much he cares about us.”
Ohio State linebacker Cody Simon didn’t give his thoughts on Day’s reaction specifically, but like Egbuka and McCord, he thought it was another expression of the love his coach has for his players.
“I don’t have any comments on his comments, but we felt his love for us and we felt like he always has our back,” Simon said. “In turn, we have his back. Before the game, we always say we’re behind Coach Day no matter what. He’s our leader. It came out in a lot of emotion at the end of the game, and we love to have people who care and people who we know have our back.”
Simon added that he and his teammates didn’t need to hear Day fire back at Holtz and defend them to know that he loves and cares about them, however. He sees it in the day-to-day actions of his head coach in and around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“It didn’t take his words or anything to know that he truly does love his guys and all his players and everyone who’s involved with Ohio State,” Simon said. “Everyone in Ohio, really. You don’t really need his words. You know he goes to battle every day. Whether it’s practice or film or with media, every day he puts on that Block O and he’s shown his love for all of us.”
Day and the Buckeyes take the field again against Maryland on Oct. 7.