After any game, whether it’s a regular season game, a bowl game or a playoff game, the mindset was always the same for Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. It was always on to the next game, the next season.
“We’d been on the phone recruiting the last half of the walk if it wasn’t our last game and right now I’d be starting to put pencils to who is coming back, who is not coming back, and what do we do at left tackle, what do we do this, what do we do that,” Meyer said. “But the new guy’s got to worry about that.”
That new guy, offensive coordinator turned head coach Ryan Day, knew this moment was coming. Ever since Meyer announced his retirement on Dec. 4, Day had been on the road recruiting, molding the 2019 class for what would be his first season in that role.
Day said he expected to have a moment on the field, a moment when he would feel, officially, like the head coach of Ohio State. The Buckeyes didn’t allow him to have that, giving up 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to give Ohio State only a one-score win.
The moment came after the game when Meyer officially handed off the whistle to Day, becoming the 25th head coach in Ohio State history.
“We are going to keep moving this culture forward the with group here,” Day said when he first addressed the team as head coach. “And the reason why we can do do that is because we can stand on the shoulders of the guys who have come before, the coaches that have come before.”
Day said that’s the moment when he felt like the head coach.
“It’s an amazing feeling. It is,” Day said. “To be the leader of such a special place, special group of men, this program, Buckeye nation, it’s an honor.”
Now, Day has work to do.
He said there will be a team meeting when the players return on Jan. 7, saying there is still a lot to do in the transition and a lot of things to go over.
However, Day said the culture Meyer set will be what he will build off of in his first season as the head coach.
“Everybody’s different, but we are going to keep things as much the same as we can, but there are different leadership styles,” Day said. “I think that will come over time.”
Day said he learned a lot from Meyer, many lessons that he will continue to integrate into the team culture. One of those things is being personally invested in the players in his program, connecting with them so they can give their best to the program as a whole.
“I know that I take pride in relating with the guys, making sure we connect on a personal level,” Day said. “I think that matters that they play hard for you when they believe in you and you are loved by the coach. So I’m going to make sure that’s a part of it moving forward.”