As the potential for a 2020 Big Ten football season is now in the rear-view mirror, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day discussed the challenges for the Buckeyes moving forward Wednesday.
Although the pain from the cancelation is still fresh in his mind, Day emphasized the need for himself and the program to continue to improve and explore all options while the team waits to hear what fall training could look like.
“There’s been a lot of work that’s put into getting this program to this point and this is certainly an obstacle in the challenge,” Day said in a Zoom conference with media members. “I gave myself last night to throw a pity party and then woke up this morning back to work, because that’s what it is, that’s what life is and that’s what this sport is.”
While training was shut down Wednesday, players will have the opportunity to use the weight room Thursday. Day also said that meals and tutors would still be provided to the student-athletes.
Looking to fill the fall void that was left by the postponement of the season, Day is focused on developing and improving his players by establishing individualized programs for each player starting in September.
“This fall for us, each guy is going to have an individualized plan on how we’re going to improve them, because we have such a range of different guys in the program,” Day said.
Although the Big Ten has not given them instruction on how to handle fall training, Day is expecting Ohio State will have a plan ironed out in the next few days.
Day showed support for a shortened eight-to-nine week season starting as early as the first week of January as opposed to a full-length season that begins in March. Day cited the idea that playing a shortened season earlier in the year would make the option of playing in the following fall much more reasonable for the players.
Day also pointed to the fact that mid-year enrollees from the 2021 recruiting class may have the opportunity to play in both the fall and spring seasons while only losing out on one year of eligibility.
“I think there’s excitement about the possibility of playing two seasons in one year,” Day said. “I’m going to fight really, really hard so that, if I’m a mid-year guy coming in, we do play in January and have the opportunity to play in January and then also in the fall, but only count for one year of eligibility because it’s only playing in one calendar year.”
While the Big Ten’s attention has turned to a possible spring season and despite reports that athletic director Gene Smith said that Ohio State would not be looking to play football in the fall, Day said that the team is still actively looking at all options to play.
“That’s a fluid situation and, I know, Gene and I talked again this morning at length about this and we’re still exploring all those options,” Day said. “This thing is moving, it’s changing and we’re looking at everything. I can promise you that.”
Whether Ohio State is able to find an opportunity to play in fall or spring, Day stressed the importance of moving quickly in order to give the players an opportunity.
“I think it’s gotta be fast,” Day said on finalizing a plan and schedule. “And what is fast? It’s gotta be weeks. It can’t be months.”
In terms of how the Big Ten will react to Ohio State’s aggressiveness to get a plan together soon, Day is uncertain about how much pull he and the university will have to get something done.
“I don’t know the answer to that, but I know I am going to fight like heck for these guys to push forward on what we think is right,” Day said. “There will be a lot of back and forth. There will be some conceding of points here and there, but I’ll say right now, I feel pretty strongly about what I’ve said and I’m going to work hard to get it done.”