NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Ryan Day Ready For Prime Time

Who is the best coach in the Big Ten? Our choice is OSU's Ryan Day.

The question was first raised by our TMG buddy Tom Luicci a few weeks ago. "Who is the Best Coach in the Big Ten?''

With Ohio State's Urban Meyer in retirement, it became more of a perplexing question than you might think.

Neither Jim Harbaugh or Mark Dantonio at Michigan and Michigan State had distinguished themselves the past few years.

The new crop of Big Ten coaches hadn't made much of a splash, which left Wisconsin and Paul Chryst a clear favorite in his first four seasons in Badgerland. But Wisconsin dropped to 8-5 last season and even before that Wisconsin never seemed to leave much of a national footprint in January.

So we thought about it some more and came up with a solution, which is more of a hunch and a prediction, maybe a bold one for a head coach whose resume is only seven games long.

We contend that the best coach in the Big Ten, the coach who could very well follow the path that Bob Stoops did going from Florida to Oklahoma 20 years ago or Lincoln Riley did following Stoops three years ago, is Ohio State's Ryan Day.

A year ago, filling in for Meyer for the first three games of the season, Day was a seamless 3-0. And when Meyer announced his retirement at the end of last season, the transition was again smooth. Day was the new coach and has continued to keep the Buckeyes focused with four wins in their first four games.

OSU's latest conquest was a 76-5 win over Miami of Ohio. Presumably things will be more difficult when the Buckeyes travel to Lincoln for a meeting against a Nebraska team coached by another rising star in Scott Frost.

We have known Day for 16 years, dating back to his days as a graduate assistant on Tom O'Brien's staff. Day came out of New Hampshire as a former Prep School All State quarterback who was weened on the offensive magic of Chip Kelly, as a player and then as an assistant coach.

Day had three stints at BC under O'Brien, Jeff Jagodzinksi, Frank Spaziani and Steve Addazio. Had Meyer not retired, Day might be in his fourth game as the BC head coach, since he was on Meyer's staff at Ohio State when current BC athletic director Martin Jarmond was also in Columbus as an assistant AD. But once Meyer decided to retire, Day's name had to be scratched off of any potential BC wish list.

Our dealings with Day saw a coach with ambition, talent and personality, a trifecta that only a few super star head coaches possess.

Day certainly has paid his coaching dues and seems more than comfortable in a role which brings a spotlight to every game he coaches, something that almost never has happened at BC the past decade.

In the hierarchy of coaches, Alabama's Nick Saban and Clemson's Dabo Swinney are the clear leaders. With back to back Heisman Trophy winners and 27 wins in his first 31 games, Riley is making a charge to the top, both in college and the NFL and at the age of 36 can easily be projected as both a potential Hall of Fame coach in college and professional football.

After that, however, the picture is much murkier for potential super stars.

And yes, four games into a season and seven games into a career is too early to make any definitive projections, but if you factor in opportunity, exposure and potential, Day clearly has the right stuff.

When Ohio State lost Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins to the NFL, he didn 't fret. He went out and found an instant replacement in Georgia transfer Justin Fields, who has been nearly as effective running the Buckeye offense as Haskins.

Day is so comfortable in his own skin that he is not afraid to offer praise in areas many coaches wouldn't dare tred. Take for example Day's compliments a few weeks ago for LSU quarterback Joe Burrow after the Tigers beat down Texas in a key game.

Burrow came to LSU from Ohio State, where he was coached by OSU offensive coordinator...Ryan Day. It is not inconceivable that Day might get an even closer look at LSU and Burrow in the CFB Playoffs in January.

With all of that in front of us, it wasn't a hard call to make Day our choice as the top coach in the Big Ten.

Comments


Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
New Comment
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun