Farewell, beard. Ohio State coach Ryan Day makes major sacrifice as Buckeyes 2021 season begins

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

Ryan Day doesn't want to do it.

It has become a part of him. He likes it.

But on a football team, everybody must sacrifice for the greater good.

So with sadness in his voice, Day divulged on Monday that the jet-black beard he has cultivated all offseason will be no more.

"It has to go, probably in the next 24 hours," the Ohio State coach said.

Day was peppered with questions on various topics Monday at his press conference as his Buckeyes prepare to play Minnesota in their season-opener Thursday night. The one about the beard seemed to land the hardest as he explained his rationale for shaving it.

Ryan Day, seen here at Big Ten media days in July, said he will shave his beard before Ohio State's opener Thursday at Minnesota.

"I'm not gonna coach with the beard," he said. "I'm just too superstitious. I'd like to (keep it). I've thought long and hard about it. My wife and I had a conversation about it. I'm not taking that chance, especially starting with a conference game. The beard has to go."

Day's wife, Nina, told The Dispatch on Tuesday in a prized exclusive that her husband has coached with a beard only once during a season. That came in 2016 when he was quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers. They went 2-14.

"He has never coached with a beard, and the one year he did, it was a really hard year," she said. "We never won. And so now he's just like, 'I'm not taking any chances.'

"He doesn't want to go into a game with a beard and lose and think, 'What if?' Knowing Ryan, he's going to make sure everything that he has control of to win a game gets done. If that means shaving the beard, that means shaving the beard."

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She said she'll miss it. She likes how he looks with it.

"He looks a little bit more scruffy," Nina said. "He's got a little bit of a babyface, and he's got (the skin condition) rosacea. I find it funny that people think he puts makeup on because he has red cheeks. But he actually has rosacea, so when he doesn't have the beard, his red cheeks really kind of blossom."

She said she also laughs when she hears comments that Day's beard is so black that he must have dyed it.

"I'm like, 'Oh, my goodness, you obviously do not know my husband,'" she said. "He's not a vain person. He's not vain at all. I wish he was a little bit more vain, but he's not."

Not everyone in the Day family will bemoan the loss of the beard.

"My girls don't like it because it hurts their cheeks when he kisses them," Nina said. "They're happy that he's getting rid of it."

How did the Buckeye football players feel about the beard?

Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison said he likes his coach's beard, with one suggestion.

"I think he should keep it," he said. "I think it's cool. I just think he needs to line it up a little bit, and it'll be all right."

Alas, the beard's demise seems imminent. Nina said Ryan hadn't shaved it before leaving their home Tuesday morning.

"I asked him, 'Is this the last time I'm going to see you with a beard?' and he smirked at me," she said. "So I think that was his indication that he's going to shave it this afternoon."


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