Ryan Day has been on a football coaching odyssey from the day he jumped into the profession, one that in the past two years took him out of the college ranks to the NFL, and now back to college as the new quarterbacks mentor for Ohio State.
It was even coast-to-coast the past two years under Chip Kelly, first at Philadelphia in 2015 then San Francisco last season, stints that ended abruptly when Kelly was fired on Jan. 2.
Given that churn, Day made a bold decision when hired by OSU coach Urban Meyer on Jan. 3.
“I bought a house,” Day said, referring to his purchase in Powell, showing that he aims to stick around. “I’d love to be here for a while.”
>> Video | Ryan Day talks about settling his family in the Columbus area.
Before he went to Philadelphia with Kelly, Day had been at Boston College for two years as offensive coordinator, and before that for a season as coordinator for Temple in Philadelphia. Additionally, from 2007-11 he was an assistant at Boston College after his first full-time assistant job at Temple in 2006. That came on the heels of being a graduate assistant for Meyer’s first Florida team in 2005.
“I was in college and I loved college, and then I went to the NFL and I learned how that worked,” Day, 38, said. “I have a young family, I have three kids — 8, 6 and 3. My wife, we wanted to go to a place that was stable, and we couldn’t have picked a better place than right here.”
Four months ago, Day and the 49ers staff were dealing with the fallout from quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem in an attempt to draw attention to injustices he saw going on in the world.
“You know, when you stepped outside the doors (of the facility) it was a big deal, but when we stepped inside it really wasn’t,” Day said. “Early on there was a little bit of distraction, but the team rallied around him and it really wasn’t much of a distraction, not as much as people made it. We just went to work every day.”
Now he’s dealing with fallout of a different type. OSU senior quarterback J.T. Barrett was the 2016 Silver Football award winner as the MVP of the Big Ten. But the Buckeyes’ passing game struggled against the better defenses last season, the low point coming in a 31-0 loss to Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
Meyer broke up his offensive staff, with QBs coach Tim Beck moving to Texas and coordinator Ed Warinner going to Minnesota. Former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson was hired as coordinator and Day as co-coordinator and QB coach. So far Day has been impressed with Barrett, pointing out the passing-game problems were more than a one-man affair.
“He’s like a grown man. He’s like a professional who shows up every day,” Day said of Barrett. “And one thing I think he appreciates is that it is a clean slate. Every day he’s trying to prove to me and I’m trying to prove to him the worth to each other.”