Day steps in as coach

Tim May
Ryan Day, the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, watches J.T. Barrett warm up before a against against Army last season. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Ryan Day’s plate suddenly got very full.

Day, Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was named the acting head coach of the Buckeyes on Wednesday.

The impromptu promotion came after Urban Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave pending a university investigation into what he knew about domestic abuse allegations against fired assistant coach Zach Smith.

With the Buckeyes opening preseason camp Friday, the university announced that the 39-year-old Day, a former quarterbacks coach in the NFL with Philadelphia and San Francisco, will assume the head-coaching duties in Meyer’s absence.

Day was not available for comment Wednesday. Until now, his recent media appearances have entailed answering questions about the starting quarterback competition won by Dwayne Haskins Jr. to succeed four-year starter J.T. Barrett for the upcoming season.

Hired to coach the quarterbacks in 2017, Day was promoted to full offensive coordinator status by Meyer in January to serve alongside offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. At the time, he was rumored to have been hired as the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator under new coach Mike Vrabel.

“Ryan is clearly a very talented coach who has been an outstanding addition to our program,” Meyer said then. “He has been approached by other schools numerous times this offseason for coordinator and head coach opportunities, and by the National Football League for a coordinator opportunity.

“I am pleased that he has elected to continue to work on this staff and to lead, mentor and coach the terrific young men we have in this program.”

Day at that time also received a raise, pushing his salary to $1 million. That made him the second-highest paid coach on the staff behind defensive coordinator Greg Schiano ($1.5 million).

Ohio State did not reveal whether Day’s promotion to acting head coach will come with a salary bump. However, it is interesting that he gained the nod over Schiano, who previously was head coach at Rutgers and at Tampa Bay of the NFL, and over Wilson, who was head coach at Indiana for six years through 2016.

But Wilson agreed to leave Indiana after allegations were made of possible player mistreatment during his tenure. And Schiano, after agreeing to become coach at the University of Tennessee last November, saw that offer withdrawn after a social media storm that alleged he knew of the actions of former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted of child sexual abuse and rape. Schiano was a Penn State assistant from 1990 to ’95.

It is not known whether Ohio State considered making Wilson or Schiano acting head coach; in November, athletic director Gene Smith said he had investigated the allegations against Schiano and found they could not be substantiated. Smith could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

So Day, a native of Manchester, New Hampshire, will be a head coach for the first time.

He was a former quarterback at the University of New Hampshire where he played under offensive coordinator Chip Kelly and later worked for Kelly as an assistant. Day has crossed the country in his coaching career, including three stops at Boston College and two at Temple before moving to the NFL under Kelly with Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Now, for at least the interim, he will be head coach of a team that is expected to compete for a Big Ten championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff.


Listen to the BuckeyeXtra Football podcast: