Blueprint of Success
Ryan Day navigated to a 3-0 record when he took over for Urban Meyer last season during his suspension. This season, he wont have someone he will have to hand the keys to the team back to after the first three games, and will truly start his head coaching campaign.
To some, the hiring of Ryan Day is a little bit of a surprise because it was an internal hire, and there wasn’t a true search committee to find a replacement for the future Hall of Fame coach, but with the landscape of this day and age (no pun intended) in college football, this might be the best case scenario and that will depend on how successful Ryan Day can be this season. The biggest comparison that people will make will be to another coach who took over for a Hall of Famer, and has found instant success in his first 2 seasons, and that his Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma.
|2017||12-2||8-1||Rose Bowl - L||3|
|2018||12-2||8-1||Orange Bowl - L||4|
In his first 2 seasons, Lincoln Riley led the Sooners to the College Football playoff in both years, and had two Heisman winning quarterbacks with Baker Mayfield in 2017, and Kyler Murray in 2018. Oklahoma was also Big 12 Champions both years, and has been able to recruit well on the offensive side. The defensive side of the ball has been the weakness of Lincoln’s Sooner teams, and as Buckeye fans know, Oklahoma hired Alex Grinch away from Ohio State in order to fix those issues.
In the ESPN article by Adam Rittenberg, Day has admitted that he has reached out to Lincoln Riley as a resource for this transition. “He’s one of the few guys who I thought could probably relate to the situation,” Day told ESPN of Riley at Big Ten media days. “The best advice he gave me was: ‘Don’t worry about anything in terms of changing, anything like that. Just make sure you do what’s right.”
In that same article, Lincoln Riley had this to say about Ryan Day “I don’t think they would have hired a guy who’s going to come in and just revamp everywhere. It’s the same way at Oklahoma. If things are going well, they’re not going to try to just go hire the complete opposite of that person. So be yourself. You have to. They believed in you, and you better believe in yourself.”
The other example of an internal hire that has had success is Dabo Swinney at Clemson. In 2008, Dabo was promoted in interim head coach after Tommy Bowden retired 6 games into the season, and he was able to finish the season with 4 wins and 3 losses. The Clemson athletic department decided to keep Swinney on the following year, and finished the season 9-5 with a win in the Music City Bowl and finished first in the Atlantic division of the ACC. 2010, Clemson took a step back and finished 6-7, and then every year since, they have finished with no fewer than 10 wins, and have won 2 of the last 3 National Championships in the College Football Playoff.
|2008||4-3||3-2||Gator - L||3|
|2009||9-5||6-2||Music City - W||24 AP|
|2010||6-7||4-4||Meineke Car Care - L|
|2011||10-4||6-2||Orange - L||22|
|2012||11-2||7-1||Chick-Fil-A - W||9 C/ 11 AP|
|2013||11-2||7-1||Orange - W||7 C/ 8 AP|
|2014||10-3||6-2||Russell Athletic - W||15|
|2015||14-1||8-0||Orange - W|
CFP NCG - L
|2016||14-1||7-1||Fiesta - W, CFP NCG - W||1|
|2017||12-2||7-1||Sugar - L||4|
|2018||15-0||8-0||Cotton - W, CFP NCG - W||1|
Another thing that cannot be understated is that even though Urban Meyer retired, he is currently involved as an athletic director for the university, and Day has admitted to reaching out to Urban several times, but Urban knows that this is Ryan’s team know. Urban Meyer is another coach who has a blueprint of success, and has had success everywhere he has went. During his time of retirement, Urban has joined Tim Kight on his Focus3 podcast, and they discussed what Urban did when he took over and that is creating a culture. Part of success isn’t bulletin board material or posters on the wall, but is the belief within the team and coaching staff to believe in the same thing, especially when adversity hits. Ryan Day has gotten to experience this culture, and from the sounds of it, he is continuing that culture with the team, and adding his own spin.
Both Riley and Swinney are similar in that they are offensive minded coaches, and Ryan Day has been mentored by some of the best offensive minds in the game with Chip Kelly and Urban Meyer. Both Swinney and Riley also have formulated a blueprint of success that if you were to take a straw poll today, both of those names would end up on most peoples top 3 coaches in college football at the moment.
I think the biggest hurdle Ryan Day has is expectations. Similar to Oklahoma, Ohio State is a program that is in the hunt for the national title as a baseline for a successful season. Ohio State fans expect to win the Big Ten, and are on a long streak of winning The Game since the turn of the century. If Ryan Day is able to match with Riley’s success, I think Ohio State would be happy, but of course would love to make it past the first round in the playoff. If it takes some time like it did for Dabo, there might be some unrest with the Scarlet and Gray faithful.
The truth if though, Ryan Day needs to do what is best for his philosophy, and be able to produce on the field. If he can win The Game, and keep Ohio State in the national title conversation, he should have a good career at Ohio State.