CHICAGO — If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That seems to be the mantra for first year Ohio State coach Ryan Day.
Day takes the reigns from Urban Meyer, who after seven years as the Buckeyes’ head coach won three conference championships and the national championship in 2014. Not to mention Meyer also finished with a perfect 7-0 record against Michigan throughout his tenure — big shoes to fill for Day as he steps into his first season as a head coach.
But Day spent the last two seasons with the Buckeyes as the offensive coordinator, and a sense of continuity may be a key for the program’s continued success.
“You’re talking about one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game,” Day said. “I try not to focus on what I might change and things like that because we’ve kept so many things in place.”
And as for a change in approach to the rivalry game against the Wolverines?
“No,” Day said. “It worked. It worked just fine.”
Michigan’s national championship aspirations were halted by Ohio State in the final regular season game in two of the past three years. The inability to defeat the Buckeyes has been one of the biggest criticisms of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh throughout his four years at the helm. For Ohio State, it has been a badge of pride.
“I think the thing I learned from Urban (Meyer) the minute I got there is that you work the game every day,” Day said. “And the way to honor and respect the rivalry is to work it every day. And we do. It’s a part of what we do whether it’s recruiting, or we have periods where we have in practice where we call it the ‘team up north’ drill. So, we live it every day. It’s something that we always have in the back of our minds.”
Day and Ohio State have their work cut out for them if they hope to continue the trend against Michigan. Departing is quarterback Dwayne Haskins along with four of its five starting offensive linemen from last season — dissimilar to the Wolverines who have experience and depth at the starting offensive line position along with quarterback Shea Patterson who will begin his second season with Michigan.
By the time that the two rivals face off to end the regular season, Day hopes that inexperience will no longer be a factor.
“I think that by the time you get to that point, you’re really not young anymore,” Day said. “I think you have experience, like Chris Olave is great example, he was young as a freshman in that game and then he went on to block a punt and score two touchdowns in the rivalry game and then in the Big Ten Championship Game. So, I think when you get to that game, by then, youth really isn’t a factor anymore.”
When Day lines up across Harbaugh for the first time, the Buckeyes will hope to see continued success while the Wolverines hope that it was Meyer that was the bane to Michigan’s success.