Ryan Day was among the headliners Tuesday for the Morning Sports Report put on annually by the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.
Speaking with former Buckeye linebacker James Laurinaitis, who served as emcee, Day covered a handful of topics as a collection of local businesspeople and community partners listened.
Some of his answers were familiars for anyone who has heard him speak publicly much since the announcement he would replace Urban Meyer, but there are a few topics less trodden.
Here are five things to know about Day’s 18-minute appearance:
1. Day prefers college football to the NFL.
Although his most-recent employers before joining Meyer’s staff three years ago were the Eagles and 49ers, Day is more comfortable as a college coach.
“There are a lot of differences,” he said. "First off, in college you get to recruit the types of kids you want. You get to bring in the family and types of kids you want. In the NFL, it’s very different. The GM and the owner and the personnel department are very separate from the coaches so you don’t have a lot of say in who comes in there.”
Players also come and go more often and more quickly at the professional level.
“The difference is in college you can have an impact on their lives,” he said. "You build relationships with the family, with brothers and sisters and you build their future with them. You also bring them into your homes, teach them life lessons.
“At the end of the day I think it’s more stable college than the NFL, which is unstable. I enjoyed my time in the NFL, but it was kind of a year in Philly and a year in San Francisco and things happen that are out of your control. You can have a bigger impact in college.”
2. He puts a huge premium on relationships.
This isn’t exactly news, but Day explained how he stresses the importance of love in building a football team.
“I ask players this all the time, ‘Who do you love the most in your life?’ And they’ll say their family,” Day said. “Well, if you think of the word love, a lot of times you think of it as a romantic term and kind of soft, and I said, ‘Imagine someone walked into your house and tried to hurt your family. Is that being soft?’ They say no. They’d be passionate, they’d be intense, they’d be violent. Imagine if you love your brothers, your teammates, and your coaches love you, think of what a special thing we can have here?”
3. Day wants players to view him as approachable.
“That’s something I feel strongly about,” he said. "I think these kids these days, their generation feels comfortable coming to you. I loved my coach, but I couldn’t walk into his office and have a conversation with him. Hopefully our guys can here because there are a lot more expectations on them.”
4. Getting a feel for how the offense will be composed around a new quarterback will take time.
“The good thing is our offensive staff has been together for a little while,” he said. “We’ve had J.T. (Barrett) and then Dwayne (Haskins) and now we’ll kind of figure out what this year brings, but there’s a lot that goes into it. There is. It’s not just the quarterback. There’s also the offensive line, the running backs, the guys on the perimeter. I think we’ve got some playmakers.”
Justin Fields and Gunnar Hoak are expected to be the primary contenders to replace Haskins, and whoever wins the job will be operating behind an offensive line with four new starters and a group of skill players that lost NFL draft picks Mike Weber, Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin.
“There are going to be some core principles we’re going to always have,” Day said. "We’re going to run the football and play-action pass, those types of things. We were heavy in drop-back game last year as the season went on. Where that’s going to be this year, that’s something we’re going to work through in the preseason.”
5. He views the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry as a 365-day issue.
Laurinaitis, who was 4-0 as a Buckeye against the Wolverines, saved the best for last when he asked Day how he is approaching The Game now that he is in charge of the Scarlet and Gray.
“The way last year’s game went, we’re going to have our hands full this year.,” Day said, referring to a stunning 62-39 upset win for OSU last November. “That kind of got one-sided and we didn’t expect that. We have our ‘team up north period’ which we do in the spring, a period where we practice against them for 10 minutes, turn up the loudspeaker and have our music.”
On top of that, director of football performance Mickey Marotti might tell them to do as many reps in a workout as there are days left until the next edition of The Game.
“It’s a way of life,” Day concluded. “In our recruiting room, we have lists of all the people they’ve recruited, and that’s our first thing is to beat them, and then we go from there. We have to live it every day.”
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