Column: While it’s hard to admit, Jim Harbaugh was pretty right with his post-game commentary on Ryan Day

Over the past two decades, as Ohio State football fans, we’ve developed an unbeaten expectation, mainly because the team has been pretty damn nearly invincible themselves. So every time the team loses it’s a shock and causes extreme reactions from all over Buckeye Nation. But not all losses are created equal. Some – although exasperating – can be attributed to circumstances; an underdog has the perfect game plan or staff to exploit the specific little cracks in Ohio State’s otherwise impenetrable armor.

Then there are others in which the Buckeyes are so well beaten in a way that defies logic that these losses have the power to shake – and potentially redefine – the entire trajectory of the program. I hope last Saturday’s loss to their rivals is exactly that kind of loss.

After the Oregon game earlier this season, I shared my thoughts on the systemic failures of Ryan Day and his coaching staff that led to this early season loss. Throughout the season I would mention these themes again – especially on Twitter during games – but I didn’t feel the need to revisit the subject here on the site; not because I thought the changes the staff had made in the interim were enough to fix whatever was wrong, but because we were seeing progress, and Day and his company deserved the opportunity to see these. redesigns come to fruition.

However, with a second loss that I think should never have happened, it’s high time Day took an honest look at how he’s running his schedule. There is no doubt that he had one of the most solid career starts a coach has had in recent memory; 33-4 overall, 23-1 in the Big Ten, two conference titles, three division titles, two playoff spots and much more.

It’s hard to expect anything else from the first three seasons of a first-time head coach, but believe it or not (and I can’t believe I’m about to type this) during his lecture post-game press release last weekend, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh actually made a consistent point on the Ohio State program and the head coach with whom I – in principle – agree, although Jimbo fell back in a traditionally clumsy attempt by Harbaughian to unnecessarily insult his fellow coach.

The TTUN coach – who is now 1-and-5 against Ohio State, by the way – when asked about the “trash talk” from the OSU program (presumably the comment “We’re going to get them in suspend 100 “leaked a year ago) said slyly:” Some people are born on a third and think they’ve hit a triple. “

Screech Powers’ cousin was trying to imply that Day had grown a bit too fat for his panties and that he had straddled Urban Meyer’s successes in his first three seasons at the helm and that he was not as good a trainer as he thought. was.

Now, to be clear, I don’t agree with any of this. I think Day’s panties are the exact right size, and while no one – including Day – would deny that the foundation Meyer left in Columbus was vital to the early successes of Day, the new OSU coach. has proven to be just as good – if not better – of a coach and scout as his predecessor was in the later years of his tenure.

But this is where I think Michigan’s most man made his way into a shrewd observation. I think Day overlooked some of the most important duties of a head coach, and they have led to this potential pivot in the future of his program.

It’s not that I think the Ohio State head coach has become complacent, on the contrary, I think he’s incredibly diligent and dedicated to his team’s success, but I think over the course of his first three seasons at the helm, he has shown that comfort is important to him; perhaps more than he should be for the head coach of a great college football power.

As I wrote in the post linked above in the aftermath of the Oregon game, after his early staffing decisions Day took the path of least resistance when it comes to hire assistant coaches; promote from within, bring back a beloved former staff member, keep colleagues he had worked with under Meyer, etc.

This familiarity seems to have been important to him; it’s comfortable for him to take the busiest road, not having to do a full and exhaustive search, not having to tackle changing the way he does things, not having to face to the shortcomings of the program he is building.

And I understand. There are so many different things a head coach has to do on a daily basis that if you have a simple and obvious answer from the ranks of assistant coaches (even if it’s not the best answer) it is very tempting to find it. take as well. that you can resume recruiting, practical preparation, film study, etc.

But here’s the thing – and believe it from a guy who tries to avoid anything that even approaches difficulty on any given occasion – the easy way is rarely the best way, but so it is. that Day has tackled far too many staffing challenges over the past three years. You could also argue that it took the loss to the Ducks for him to understand the value of playing talent (regardless of age) versus seniority and experience, but that’s another. subject for another column.

Now is not the time for shyness. I believe if Day wants his schedule to correct the issues that have been painfully evident over the past two seasons and take the necessary steps to step up into the college football world where their recruiting indicates they already should be, he needs to absolutely make decisive moves and moves of his coaching staff, even if they happen after the first signing period.

Usually I don’t like to call people unless they’re doing something absolutely obnoxious, but with appreciation for what they’ve done for the school, the program, and the players, I would love to see Day part ways with at least three – and as many as six – assistant coaches (you can make your guesses about which ones I’m talking about in the comments below).

While there are some staff that I think can benefit the team in redefined roles, it still feels too safe for what the situation demands of Ryan Day. In my opinion, anything less than an overhaul of the defensive coaching staff can have the impact it needs to have this offseason, and to be honest there are a few moves I would make on the offensive side as well.

Will Day do it? Is he ready to step outside his comfort zone enough to make the changes his program needs? I do not know; I hope so, but frankly I’m not too optimistic that he can. He might just be too kind to pull the trigger to get rid of his staff friends (a trait that’s an unfortunate holdover from the Meyer era).

And while I still have some hope that Day will make some big and substantial changes to his coaching staff, there is one more change he needs to make, but I have almost no hope that we’ll see it. soon, and he’s hiring someone else to serve as the offensive caller.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think Day is a great attacking spirit and is as good at planning games as he is at game calls, but here’s the problem, Blue Blood level head coaches. do not. t make good players, at least not in the long run.

I know there are exceptions, so miss me with your Lincoln Rileys and Mike Leaches (although those two aren’t exactly perfect examples of the head coach making it work for the long haul). It just seems like there is a natural drop in when it comes to calling head coaches – especially on offense – and that usually happens around season three.

Despite their best efforts, former offensive coordinators turned head coaches just don’t have the time to study filmmaking, keep up with offensive innovation or a game plan like they did when it was. ‘was their main job.

Head coaches are in charge of everything, so instead of developing fun trainings in their boardroom, they run the equivalent of a Fortune 500 business, and try to maintain their connection to the fun thing they were doing. , honestly, it hurts. their other responsibilities and drags the rest of the team down.

Look, I get it, when you’re the elite at something – like Day as a game caller – it’s hard to give it up. You love it, you feel an unbridled thrill of it, you feel alive; hi, sorry, you should have thought about that before you accepted that fancy new title, moved into that gigantic corner office, and cashed the first check for that $ 6.5 million raise.

As a general rule, I don’t think head coaches should call plays, and when they do, there’s always a very noticeable lifespan in terms of effectiveness; and anyone who has watched the supposedly historic Ohio State offensive tackle even competent defenses this year understands exactly what I’m talking about.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Michigan is a 10.5-point favorite on the Iowa Hawkeye to win the Big Ten Championship tomorrow night. Without taking anything away from the whooping cough the Mitten State Weasels inflicted on the Buckeyes last weekend, the Buckeyes should be in Indianapolis right now with three touchdowns.

But they’re not, and the reasons they aren’t go straight back to where the Buckeyes stop off, and that’s at the head coach’s office.

Ryan Day has to prove to fans, his players, rookies and maybe even himself that he is fully equipped and ready to take the tough decisions his job requires, because so far everything has been enough. easy for him, almost like he was born on third base.

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