New Ohio State AD weighs in on status of coaches

Credit: Marcus Hartman

Credit: Marcus Hartman

COLUMBUS — At his introduction press conference, incoming Ohio State director of athletics Ross Bjork expressed confidence in the Buckeyes’ football coach.

“This guy right here, Coach (Ryan) Day, he’s gonna get it done, and it’s gonna to be a lot of fun when we win those championships,” Bjork said.

Men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann did not get such an endorsement.

“I talked to him on the phone Tuesday morning, and then talked to him and met him face to face this morning,” Bjork said Wednesday afternoon.

Holtmann’s team was suffering an embarrassing loss at Michigan on Monday afternoon as news broke Bjork was likely to be the successor to Gene Smith as OSU AD.

The Wolverines (7-10, 2-4 Big Ten) entered the game in last place in the Big Ten, but they had company by the end of the day as the Buckeyes also fell 2-4 in the conference.

At 12-5 overall, Ohio State remains in position to return to the NCAA Tournament if Holtmann can right the ship, but the face-plant in Ann Arbor brought to mind multiple January swoons during his tenure that began on a high note not matched since.

Holtmann’s Buckeyes were 25-9 overall and finished second in the Big Ten with a 15-3 mark in 2018 and have not finished higher than fifth in the conference since.

Last year, they were 16-19 overall and 5-15 in the Big Ten, good for 13th in the 14-team league.

“Look, he seems like a great guy,” Bjork, who will come to Ohio State after five years at Texas A&M. “He seems like he’s doing a great job. Obviously, don’t like losing that game on Monday.”

Just winning enough games to make March Madness might not be enough to placate fans who got used to seeing their team win Big Ten titles and play deep into the NCAA Tournament during the Thad Matta era.

“We talked about how does he kind of build chemistry and culture on the stretch run,” said Bjork, who technically does not take over for Smith until July 1 and said all decisions will continue to be Smith’s until that point. “You got basically 2 1/2 months left of the regular season or so, so I know he’s looking to finish strong.”

Meanwhile, Ohio State remains a football school, and Bjork described himself as a football guy.

A fullback at Division II Emporia State, Bjork joked he would like to see Ryan Day use that often-forgotten position more then went not to describe what he knows so far about the program after five seasons under Day.

“If you know what high-level football looks like, you know what high-level football looks like,” Bjork said. “If you can coach, you can coach.

“Ryan Day can coach. Ryan Day wins a lot of games here. He can coach. Now the pieces here, you’ve gotta make adjustments, and he’s doing that. The roster piece is really, really important right now.”

Day is 56-8 at Ohio State with a pair of Big Ten titles and three College Football Playoff appearances, but his team has lost three games in a row to Michigan and not won the Big Ten since 2020.

His starting quarterback (Kyle McCord) entered the transfer portal, but he found a senior to replace him in Will Howard of Kansas State.

The program will be fortified by the return of 12 starters who could have gone to the NFL, and he is reportedly looking at shaking up his offensive coaching staff, but Day did not have an update on the latter when he briefly spoke to reporters Wednesday.

“The best thing that I can do is lock arms with him and figure out are there any barriers?” Bjork said. “Are there any key decisions? He’s the coach. He’s the strategist. He has to build a roster. It’s my job to say, ‘What are the infrastructure pieces? What are the culture pieces that I can help you with?’ And then let him go to work. By all accounts, those things are coming together. I know he and Gene have been arm in arm on key changes, and I’m here to help in whatever I can do in that realm while they make those decisions.”

About the Author