COLUMBUS — Ryan Day isn’t worried about the pressure of following Urban Meyer at Ohio State.
When he was asked about that during a press conference last week, Ohio State’s new football coach told how he deflects that question when it comes up.
“A lot of people come up and say, ‘Lot of pressure,’ and they start talking about the expectations. That’s the thing I get a lot,” said the 40-year-old Buckeyes coach.
Day had never been a head coach before being hired in December to follow the retiring Meyer, who won a national championship and three Big Ten titles at Ohio State. Meyer never lost in seven games against Michigan.
“I say you can’t worry about that. People say what if you don’t beat the team up north (Michigan)? What if you don’t win the Big Ten championship or the national championship? I just come back with, ‘Well, what if I do?’ ” Day said.
“Let’s go play. We’re going to go after people. We’re not going to be hesitant about anything. We’re not going to be apprehensive. We’re going to be aggressive because that’s the way I think you’ve got to live life,” he said.
Some other thoughts from Day:
• Fields catching on: Georgia transfer Justin Fields is clearly the No. 1 quarterback for the Buckeyes.
Day and passing game/coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich didn’t bother pretending there was a serious competition to determine the starter when Ohio State opens Aug. 31 against Florida Atlantic.
Both say Fields has a way to go before learning everything he needs to know about OSU’s offense.
“This is somebody who has so much talent. Physically, God gave him a ton of gifts, but learning to play the position is something you learn through experience. He just doesn’t have that experience, so we can’t substitute that,” Day said.
“That being said, we have so many tools and resources in place that he can use to get himself to advance along the way. You know there’s film, there’s workouts, there’s throwing on his own with the receivers and the tight ends and running backs. He has to do that this summer on his own, we can’t do that with him. And then there’s going to be preseason camp and trying to get him as many reps as we possibly can.”
• Offensive line impresses: “I have high hopes for the offensive line, seeing the way they’re running around right now,” Day said.
“Thayer Munford (a starting offensive tackle who sat out spring practice because of an injury) is really looking strong right now.”
Munford is the only returning starter on Ohio State’s offensive line. “It’s going to be a great competition but I think it can be a strength for us. It’s a talented group,” Day said.
• Defending the borders: Day, who has emphasized that OSU remains committed to recruiting Ohio athletes, said, “Ohio always has precedence over everybody. Every time we go through our recruiting board you know anybody who’s from Ohio is in red. Everybody else is in black. It’s just different. And so we absolutely look at that. That’s something moving forward we’re putting more emphasis on.”
• New fund personal: Day and his wife Christina have established a fund for pediatric and adolescent mental wellness at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and donated $100,000 to the fund.
Day was nine years old when his father committed suicide in 1988 and said this was a big factor in creating the fund.
“Without getting into too many details, I think when you grow up and you’re young and something like that happens you go through a range of emotions from angry to sad to resentment,” he said.
“Then as you get older you start to realize, when you reach your 20s and your 30s it makes more sense what happened. You have a better perspective of what it is. Growing up I didn’t quite understand what all went down, and then as I got older I started to realize it was a sickness and there are people out there who need help.
“There is a stigma attached to it I don’t think that is right. It’s a stigma that I as a young person maybe bought into. And then as I got older I don’t buy that anymore. I think it’s just like any other sickness.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.