At least 10 Ohio State football players will make their first collegiate starts on Saturday in the opener against Oregon State, and so will acting head coach Ryan Day.

Of the pre-debut pointers Day might gain from defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, a former head coach at Rutgers and of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the first might be to not forget he has assistants to take care of some tasks. That’s what Schiano recalled from his first game in front of the Rutgers team in 2001.

 

“I remember it very clearly,” Schiano said this week. “We were at the University of Buffalo, which was a monster crowd (22,658) as you can imagine, right? Rutgers, Buffalo. We hadn’t won forever.

“I’m so excited to go coach the game and I’m going to lead the team onto the field, and I’m standing in the tunnel waiting for them to say go ahead and I noticed that I don’t have my call sheet or my game plan with me.”

That’s when his inexperience kicked in.

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“An experienced head coach would call an assistant over and say, ‘Hey, do me a favor. Go get the game plan in the locker room,’ ” Schiano said. “But not having that experience, what did I do? I worked my way through the crowd, through the players, got it, sprinted up and just as I got back we were able to take the field on time.

“Thankfully things calmed down a little and we won that game.”

After that 31-15 win, however, Rutgers won only once more in a 2-10 season. Schiano had been hired to rebuild a program almost from scratch, which he did eventually.

Day, on the other hand, is serving as coach of the nation’s No. 5 team for three games until Urban Meyer returns from suspension. Day said he has leaned on the expertise of former head coaches Schiano and fellow offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson through the past month, and will continue to do so. Schiano said his primary advice to Day has been “be himself.”

“We have a program here and as Ryan has told our staff and told our players, he’s holding the spot until coach (Meyer) gets back,” Schiano said. “We have a program, we have a philosophy, we have core values, we’re sticking to the plan.

“But within the plan there are daily decisions that must be made. And I told Ryan, ‘Listen, hear me out, hear Kevin out, but at the end of the day you have to do what you feel comfortable with, because your name now is in front of that program.’ ”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports