Besides Ohio State's Playoff chances, the TCU game is huge for Ryan Day
There’s no doubt that Saturday is a big-time opportunity.
Facing a top-15 team like TCU in one of those hybrid neutral-site road games will have a season-long impact on Ohio State’s Playoff résumé, win or lose. With a marquee non-conference win away from home, the Buckeyes would theoretically would have a loss to give in B1G play — I’m not banking on a Tulane upset — while still keeping their Playoff hopes alive.
That’s usually a good sign for Urban Meyer, who is 47-3 vs. the B1G and has yet to lose multiple conference games in the regular season.
Saturday, of course, is the last game that Meyer won’t be on the Ohio State sideline. It’ll also be Ryan Day’s last game as interim coach, and really, it’ll be his last chance to making a season-long statement of his own.
“Hire me to be your next head coach.”
Day could’ve been one-and-done at Ohio State following his first year as quarterbacks coach. He reportedly turned down the Tennessee offensive coordinator job and the Mississippi State head coaching job — that ultimately went to fellow B1G offensive guru Joe Moorhead — to stay at Ohio State, where he received a promotion and a hefty raise.
Sports Betting in Big Ten Country
Sports betting in Ohio is officially launching on January 1, 2023.
Pre-registration is now open at FanDuel Ohio for an extra $100 bonus. Go pre-register now.
21+ and present in OH. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.
How hefty? Well, $400,000 to $1 million is a pretty nice bump.
But after what we’ve seen from Day as interim coach so far in the wake of Meyer’s suspension, that looks like money well spent.
Ohio State’s passing game has looked even better under Day than it has under Meyer. Granted, it’s worth noting that Oregon State and Rutgers were the defenses that Day had to scheme against so far.
The numbers are still pretty impressive. Ohio State leads all Power 5 teams with 10 passing touchdowns and they rank No. 6 in FBS with 10.45 yards per attempt. Dwayne Haskins’ efficiency under Day is off the charts. He completed 79 percent of his passes in the first 2 games, and his quarterback rating is a ridiculous 218.0 (only Will Grier and Tua Tagovailoa rank higher among Power 5 quarterbacks).
Haskins is making Day look good and vise versa:
Dwayne Haskins after 2 games…
1 INT pic.twitter.com/7AKCfXmcBD
— Mr. Ohio (@MrOH1O) September 9, 2018
TCU will obviously be a much greater challenge for Day and the Buckeyes than what they diced up in the first 2 weeks.
The Horned Frogs rank eighth in FBS in passing defense allowing an absurd 3.72 yards per attempt. And yeah, that was only against Southern and SMU. But it’s still a top-15 team in what’s basically a road game for Ohio State.
That means another impressive passing performance would only legitimize Day even more.
It’s somewhat remarkable how quickly Day has risen up the ranks in his short time at Ohio State. He was sort of an outside-the-box hire coming from Chip Kelly’s staff at Philadelphia and San Francisco. Shoot, Day wasn’t even the favorite to earn interim duties at OSU with a pair of former head coaches on staff in Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson.
Now, though, the guy who was a grad assistant of Meyer’s back at Florida in 2005 has full play-calling duties of this Ohio State offense. That’ll remain the case even when Meyer returns from his suspension. Clearly, Meyer developed complete trust in Day, who probably didn’t get enough credit nationally for putting together the No. 36 passing offense in FBS last year with a run-first quarterback like J.T. Barrett.
But make no mistake. Day will get plenty of credit for what he’s doing as an interim coach, as he should.
If the Buckeyes put up another 40-point outburst against TCU, Day’s stock is going to continue to soar. In an era when innovative, high-powered offenses are all the rage, Day will have plenty of suitors by season’s end.
Keep in mind that Day was given a 3-year deal to stay at Ohio State. That’s rare for a Meyer assistant. They usually operate under 1- or 2-year deals. Day, however, is held in a different regard. That’s why he was given a contract loaded with up to $850,000 in retention bonuses over the next 3 years.
I mean, Ohio State has to at least try to keep Day around.
That’ll be easier said than done. The 39-year-old coach has said and done all the right things — unlike Meyer — while all of this drama unfolded in Columbus. This experience will be at the top of his résumé if and when those other Power 5 schools come calling.
Maybe Ohio State will continue to increase his salary to make him the highest-paid offensive coordinator in America. Or maybe Day will choose to strike while the iron is hot and become the next Tom Herman. Either way, Saturday is Day’s chance to boost his value one last time as an interim coach.
Something tells me he’s ready to cash in.