The news of Urban Meyer stepping down at Ohio State means a high-wattage promotion for Ryan Day, the Buckeyes’ new head coach. Day, 39, will become the 25th coach in Ohio State history. Here are 10 things to know about Day as he takes over one of the best jobs in all of college football.
1) Day got his wholesale introduction to the football world when serving as the interim coach at Ohio State for the entirety of summer camp and over the first three games of the 2018 season. That came unexpectedly, as Meyer was suspended as the university investigated domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach. Ohio State blew out Oregon State and Rutgers in the first two games and survived a tense game against TCU at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas. Day not only went 3-0, but also deftly handled being the face and voice of the program during a time of high stress and a glaring spotlight. “It’s a healthy, strong program,” Meyer said, “and Ryan was exactly the guy we needed to lead it and get us through this, and he did a hell of a job.”
2) Expect Day to continue calling plays for the Buckeyes in his new role as head coach. That decision hasn’t been officially made, but that’s the initial expectation. And it also makes sense. Day has proven to be a gifted play-caller and high-end developer of quarterbacks. He’s been the primary play-caller only this season, which has coincided with the sparkling debut of redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins, who re-wrote the Ohio State record book and set the Big Ten single-season record for both touchdowns (47) and passing yards (4,580) in his first season starting. Haskins has been consistently complimentary about Day’s role in his development, telling Yahoo Sports earlier this year: “At first as a freshman, you think you know protections, but you don’t know. I thought I had an idea before Coach Day came in, but I had no idea. Now it’s fun for me.”
3) There has been plenty of interest from other schools wanting to hire Day as a head coach the past two years. Maryland had reached out in an attempt to interview him, and both Louisville and Colorado explored him as a possibility this cycle. It seemed inevitable Day would soon be a head coach, as Mississippi State had him atop its list last season for its vacant job and Day also could have been the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. He stayed at Ohio State for a pay raise, which included $1 million in the first of the three-year deal. (He’d made $400,000 in 2017 as Ohio State’s quarterback coach). Early on in Day’s tenure at Ohio State, Meyer projected big things for Day. Meyer told Yahoo Sports that he saw Day as a coach at a top-15 program in the next few years.
4) It’s unknown precisely when the Ohio State brass were officially sold on Day. But Ohio State’s scintillating offensive performance in its historic 62-39 blowout over Michigan in the final regular-season game certainly aided his cause to get the job permanently. The 62 points by Ohio State were the most Michigan had ever yielded in regulation in a game, which stretches back to the Wolverines first playing in 1879. Making it more impressive were the 567 yards came against a defense that ranked No. 1 in both total yards and passing defense heading into the game. Day had a bit of an advantage, as he’d played against, coached against multiple times and spent two seasons working with Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown. (They were co-coordinators at Boston College for coach Steve Addazio’s first two seasons in 2013 and 2014.) Day clearly knew the questions before the test, and he aced it with crossing patterns, wheel routes and sound pre-snap line calls by Haskins.
5) Day has worked many places in both college and the NFL, but his defining mentor will always be Chip Kelly. As a high school quarterback in New Hampshire, Day was recruited to UNH by Kelly. He starred at quarterback for Kelly, who was the UNH offensive coordinator, and coached under him on the offensive staff for a year after he graduated. “You could tell he was destined to be great at this profession,” Kelly told Yahoo this summer. “He’s always been the mature and level-headed, he’s as composed of a person as I’ve ever been around. He doesn’t lose his mind. He’s always in control.”
Day later worked for Kelly at both the Eagles and 49ers as the quarterback coach. Kelly is quick to deflect credit to the bevy of other mentors Day learned from along the way, including Sean McDonnell at UNH, who both Kelly and Day revere. Other influences include Tom O’Brien at BC, Meyer at Florida, Al Golden at Temple and Addazio at BC. Among many others. “Everyone wants to write about someone in one sentence,” Kelly said. “You can’t fit it all in one sentence.”
6) Day hails from Manchester, New Hampshire, which has emerged as America’s most unlikely incubator for high-end college football head coaches. Three Division I head football coaches played their high school football in Manchester – Day, UCLA’s Kelly and Florida’s Dan Mullen. (Both Kelly and Day went to Manchester Central, while Mullen attended Trinity High School. Kelly summed up Manchester this summer by describing how he’d known Ryan Day growing up. “I’ve known him my whole life,” Kelly said. “We went to the same elementary school, junior high and high school. I knew his mom [growing up] and know both of his uncles really well. It’s a town of 100,000 people.”
7) Neither Kelly or Day can claim to be the most famous Manchester Central graduate. Comedian Adam Sandler takes that honor. It appears Manchester is just as unlikely a breeding ground for American comedians, as both Sarah Silverman and Seth Meyers hail from Manchester. (They both attended different high schools.)
8) The fun fact from Day’s off-field life is that he played on the same tee-ball team with his wife, Christina, when they were both 6 years old in Manchester. They went to the junior prom together, dated in college at UNH and are now married with three kids – Ryan Jr. (10), Grace (7) and Nia (5). (Ryan Jr. was a favorite of former Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett, who called him “the funniest kid in the world” last year in a story he penned for Yahoo Sports.)
9) The stability of the Ohio State job will be welcomed for the Day family. They went through a stretch this decade where Day worked in four different cities in four years as he shuffled jobs – Boston College (2014), Philadelphia (2015), San Francisco 49ers (2016) and Ohio State (2017). This will mark the first time Day has been in a job three consecutive seasons since he worked at Boston College from 2007-2011 as a position coach.
10) Day’s cameo as the interim head coach helped him gain the respect of the defensive players at Ohio State, who inherently he had limited interaction with prior to being rushed into the head coaching job this summer. Buckeyes defensive tackle Robert Landers said he was blown away by Day’s handling of the team during the uncertain time. “He did a phenomenal job, you couldn’t ask for anything better,” Landers told Yahoo Sports earlier this season. “I’m a spiritual person and God does things for a reason. He put Coach Day in that position to show not only him as a coach, but us as players what we have is truly special.”
More Urban Meyer on Yahoo Sports:
• Urban Meyer to step down as Ohio State coach after Rose Bowl
• Forde: Urban Meyer has one complicated, drama-filled legacy
• Wetzel: Urban Meyer’s Big Ten rivals finally have their chance
• Where Urban Meyer’s accomplishments rank in college football history