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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 27, 2018
RYAN DAY: Good morning, everyone. I want to start off by saying that I understand there's been a lot of pain and stress for a lot of people surrounding the last few weeks. And our program has been working hard, our coaches and team have been working hard during that time to get ready for the season, to prepare for the season and our first game against Oregon State. In our conversations what we have talked about is how adversity can reveal character. And if we are an average team, the adversity will crush us. If we're a good team, then we can survive it. But if we're a great team, then we can actually get better from it. And I can sit here and tell you over the past few weeks your team has gotten stronger. The team, the players and the coaches have gotten stronger. We were down a man. When we first met, the first team meeting, we talked about how everybody in the room has to step their game up, and they have, the leaders and the coaches. What this coaching staff has done here over the past few weeks has been remarkable. Greg Schiano, Kevin Wilson, what they have done for me during this time is something that I'll always be in debt for, their counsel and what they have done for me has been really something I won't forget.
Our coaches and our leaders of this program have driven the program for the last few weeks. Regarding the details of the investigation, I know everyone in here has a job to do, but I was not part of the investigation, I was not interviewed, so I have nothing to add. And so today I would like to talk about football and this team. Out of respect for everybody involved, I'm not going to speak today on the independent investigation, the report, or any speculation regarding it. And I hope everybody can respect that. It's been awhile since Buckeye Nation has heard about their team and how the team's taken shape and what's going on with the group. And so I think that Buckeye Nation is excited to hear about that. So that's what I would like to focus on today. Two of the things that's been our motivation, one is the brotherhood, playing for the guy next to you, playing for the team. That when we're in this meeting room we're playing for the guys in this room. It's been a big part of what we do. And the other one is because of the tradition of Ohio State. We wear the Scarlet and Gray, we take that serious. We know what that means to Buckeye Nation. We know that the people of Ohio State the blood runs thick with Scarlet and Gray. And so we work every day to make them proud and we can't wait to get back in The Horseshoe this weekend and go win a game together. So with that, like to take any questions you guys may have.
Q. Ryan, just being the head coach, acting head coach, has that been a whirlwind? What's that been like for you and from a football standpoint everybody wants to know about Dwayne Haskins, what kind of grasp of the offense does he have and how comfortable are you with him?
RYAN DAY: It has been a whirlwind. It has. But my goal in this thing was never to replace Coach, that's not what I wanted to do. What I wanted to do is empower the coaches, empower the leaders and just keep this thing moving and I think we have done that. In terms of Dwayne, Dwayne's done a great job. Along with a lot of other guys, his leadership had to step up and he's done that. And so throughout practice he's gotten stronger, especially from the spring and so as we prepare for this week he's got to have a good week of practice as we go because he hasn't started a game before and so that's a big part of this thing between Billy at center and JT at quarterback there's a lot of experience there that we have to replace.
Q. Being a first-time head coach going into a game here on Saturday, how much have you leaned on guys like Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson to help you along?
RYAN DAY: A lot. A lot. I have so much respect for both of those guys and for the whole staff. This is an experienced staff. It's got to be the best staff in America. When you think about Larry Johnson, Billy Davis, Alex Grinch, when you go through all the guys we have on our staff it's amazing. A lot of experience. Real professionals. But like I said before, what Greg and Kevin have done for me is something that I won't forget and their counsel has been amazing over this stretch and I've learned a lot from them, obviously they have been in my shoes before, and so it's meant a lot.
Q. Following up on that you're also the quarterbacks coach, you're also the offensive coordinator, how have you balanced those responsibilities with the interim head coach responsibilities?
RYAN DAY: If you saw me at one of the scrimmages, I don't know if you would have said I balanced it very well. I was trying to coach the quarterbacks, call the plays and organize the scrimmage and I looked like my hair was on fire. So it was a challenge, and there's been times where I felt like I've been drinking through a fire hose, to be honest. And the expectation of Ohio State is you win every game and I understand that. So there's that added pressure there that you feel. But every day it's become more normal. The first few days it was a lot and then after the first week it became more normal and every day it becomes more normal and I think that the players understand that as well.
Q. Curious, how much, you talked about the rallying around and dealing with adversity from a players perspective. Has there been much conversation about what's going on outside amongst players, coaches during camp or how have they dealt with that in terms of getting work done?
RYAN DAY: One of the things that we do here is we talk about win the moment. That's our message to the kids. And what that means is that if we focus on the future, all it does is create anxiety, because there's so many things we can't control. If we focus on the past, then we just get frustrated. So what we do is we want to spend our energy on right now. I talk to those guys in the meeting and coaches talk about it in the meetings all the time about how if you waste your energy on the past or the future, you're wasting your energy. You only have so much energy in the day. But I think the whole -- the reason why it's worked is because we have small unit cohesion here. What that means is we'll have a quick message, I tried not to be in front of the team very much, but then what happens is the position coaches will get their groups together and then within those groups the message is the same. And then they understand that it's not just this one big room, they have their position groups they have to pull for. And so I think those two things have helped us along the way and the players have done it.
Q. Follow-up, what are your emotions like going into Saturday as a head coach?
RYAN DAY: I've been taking it day by day. Honestly. Just like the players, win the moment. I've been trying to focus on today, and then tomorrow we'll focus on tomorrow and then we just go from there. Because there is no script, so we just been working forward, yeah.
Q. In terms of logistics on Saturday and the following two games, I guess, are you going to be calling the plays from the sideline or how will that work?
RYAN DAY: So Kevin and I have always worked together on that, but, yes, I'll be on the sideline and calling the plays with Kevin. And the whole offensive staff has input on all that, but that will be the plan.
Q. Going into training camp last time we talked to anybody Urban suggested that Dwayne wasn't definitely the starter, that Tate could push him during training camp, so we didn't have any daily updates on that. How did that play out? I assume he is the starter, but how close did Tate make it?
RYAN DAY: Tate made some great progress, he really did. Especially in the last two weeks he made a really big push. Dwayne will start on Saturday, he's the starter. But the plan is to play Tate. How, when, or anything like that, we don't know yet. But he's been getting better. So the two of them really got the majority of the reps because Matthew still isn't ready from his knee, and so all the reps that were had were really split in two. When Joe was here in the spring it was split into thirds, so the good news there was there was a lot of reps to learn from.
Q. Do you have to be careful with Tate at this point because of what you mentioned with Matthew and uncertainty with his health at this point, do you have to think about caution and make sure that your backup is ready if something happens to Dwayne?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, that's a concern. That's why we ended up bringing Chris in as well, to provide some depth for us there. So like always we like to keep four, five quarterbacks on the roster. So building depth there is a little concern. When we lost Joe that was a hit and we all knew that going in.
Q. Up until last week there was a lot of uncertainty about what was going to happen, who the head coach was going to be to start the season or whatever. Did you see any of that in the players? Did they, I mean, did you see cracks where they were talking about it or there was some kind of indication that they were living under this cloud?
RYAN DAY: Not until last Wednesday I think when on Wednesday when the press conference happened, it happened late at night and then we got them up early in the morning, 7 a.m. to have a team meeting. They looked a little tired there. I think it wore on them a little bit. But up until that point, no. Honestly. It was amazing, guys were flying around in practice, the energy was good, the coaches kept this thing going. And so I would say 98 percent of the time from when this started until right now it's been great. Really, that's attribute to the culture here. Our culture is strong. The culture leads at Ohio State. The culture that these leaders here not, only coaches, but leaders of the program, the kids, especially our captains, have set the example for is what's driven this thing for the past few week.
Q. Talk about culture, I'm just curious you spent time in the NFL, how is that different, the oversight of players just general oversight in the NFL is a lot different than here. How have you enjoyed it and what's been the challenge and what is the challenge between NFL and college?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think that when you're in, when you're in the NFL it's a business, for sure. And sometimes guys come and go on a weekly basis. So sometimes it's hard to grab on to those relationships. If you're lucky enough to be at a place for several years you can build those relationships and I have several of those that I made in that short period of time. But that is a tough, tough league. A lot of guys get fired and hired and a lot of guys get cut and so that's the part of it that's hard. In college, first off, it's more of a family environment. My son is here all the time, my family's very much involved with that. So that's the part that I really like. The other part is the recruiting and then you're with guys for a long period of time. You're with them through two years of recruiting and then you're with them through graduation, so you start to build those relationships as you go. I think that that's the bond that you share in college, it's a little bit different than the NFL.
Q. As a follow-up, in the NFL it may be a positive maybe it's a negative, you don't have to keep track of every guy every minute. I would think that would be a little easier on you.
RYAN DAY: Well you're dealing with men, you're dealing with 20 something, sometimes 30 year old men who have families and kids. So that is a little bit different than dealing with a 17 or 18 year old kid, yeah, sure.
Q. You sort of stepped into the breach here, how useful do you think these skills that you're learning on the job will be helpful down the road?
RYAN DAY: It's kind of learning by getting thrown in the fire a little bit. One of the things that really helped me along the way was I got a text message and I get it just about every other day from one of my mentors Chip Kelly, and he says, you're built for this. That's what he told me. And that's the thing I keep going to every morning when I wake up is that I'm built for this. Because there is no script, there's no game plan, and again, my goal was never to make it about me or try to replace Coach, it's all about the players and the coaches and empower them and that's what my instinct has told me and so that's what we're going with.
Q. How, you're the head coach, you're the acting but you're three games. So is this the Ryan Day game plan or has that already been handed down from Urban?
RYAN DAY: So when you go through the preseason that's a time where you kind of find your personality a little bit as a team. So listen, the plan to win is never going to change. What we have done in the spring is really what we're doing now. Are there a couple tweaks? Yes. But the culture's the culture. It's four to six, A to B, competitive excellence and the brotherhood. The plan to win has never changed. So that's the culture here and the plan to win is always going to be here at Ohio State.
Q. Obviously this has been a tough time with the current team but recruiting it seems like you guys have weathered the storm pretty good, you only lost one commitment in two classes. What's the response been like for you calling these kids during the time of uncertainty and then what's the response been in the time since you have a solution to this?
RYAN DAY: I think any time you're dealing with recruiting it goes back to relationships. The relationships that the coaches here have built is strong. Also the quality of the young men that we're bringing in here and the culture of those kids is as strong as any place I've ever been and the support has been strong from those recruiting classes. I can't get into specifics or people, but we have probably talked on a daily basis with all of the kids. The communication has been, hey, listen, you can ask questions, but we may not have he the answers to them, but ask the hard questions. So there's been open communication with all of them and because of that they have all stuck together. I know that they all communicate with each other and so that's been a positive.
Q. Switching gears to the team, kind of a tactical question about the offensive line. Was wondering when we saw the first few periods of few practices that Michael Jordan was repping at center, do you have an idea of how he's going to be utilized? Is he going to be a center moving into the season?
RYAN DAY: He is. Yup.
Q. And do you have any updates on what the offensive line is going to look like?
RYAN DAY: So Mike is going to start at center as of right now. We have to still go through the week but coming out of preseason camp he is the starting center. Demetrius Knox will be at right guard. Malcolm Pridgeon will be at left guard. Isaiah Prince will be at right tackle. And then Thayer Munford and Josh Alabi will still be working through the week to see who plays there, they're still working through that. Thayer has had a few nagging injuries, Josh has been working over at left tackle, so they will kind of split the reps this week as we go into Saturday.
Q. Going into this season or it seemed like Brady Taylor was going to be in line for that job. Can you just give me some of the reasoning behind making that move. Is it just trying to get five best offensive linemen on the field, most athleticism, what went behind just the idea of playing around him?
RYAN DAY: Brady brings versatility. He's been playing some guard, playing some center. So we plan on him playing as well. I think that Mike brings some experience and any time you have to replace someone like Billy Prince there's a lot that goes into that. So it's still a work in progress this is not something that we have made a decision on for the season. So Brady did have a couple nagging injuries along the way too that he's working through. But our plan is that Brady is going to play as well along the way.
Q. I think there are some people that would see referring to this only as football adversity as minimizing a serious issue. Have you used this at all to talk to the team about their core values in respecting women?
RYAN DAY: So our core values here are talked about on a daily basis and I can't imagine there's one day that goes by where we don't talk about our core values. And one of them is the respect for women. And so we talk about that all the time. We talk about how especially in this time period all of our guys are in a fish bowl and so they have to be really careful too who they are with and where they spend their time. So yes, that's addressed consistently with our guys.
Q. Have you seen any issues with Urban Meyer's coaching memory has affected his coaching at all during your time here?
RYAN DAY: No, I haven't.
Q. When they asked you to take over as acting head coach, considering you've never been a head coach, Greg Schiano has, Kevin Wilson has, how surprised were you?
RYAN DAY: I was very surprised. It did catch me off guard. It was one of those things where you just wake up the next day and you think, is this really happening? And then you just kind of put one foot in front other. I don't think anyone could have expected any of this.
Q. And one more about Haskins. JT was obviously an unquestioned leader. We know that Haskins has the arm. What have you seen from him in terms of the intangibles that lead you to believe that he can be successful in all aspects of being a quarterback?
RYAN DAY: He's very talented. He's worked hard in the off-season to change his body. That's something that Mickey Marotti has done an unbelievable job of. And I probably -- well I know I did -- I didn't do enough justice to what Mickey Marotti's meant to this program during this time. Mickey is the heart and sole of this program. And what he's done for everyone here during this time is amazing. He has the pulse on this team, he works with these guys in the summer, and he is the guy behind the scenes that keeps this thing together. He is the glue. And so I digressed a little bit right there, but I just want to make sure I hit that, because he is a huge part of this program. He has built a culture and he is really important to everyone here. But going back to Dwayne, Dwayne again has a lot of talent, he's very talented throwing the football. He's worked on his athleticism, strength, power. So you saw at the end of the season last year when he had to step into a role, he stepped right in there and he was ready to go. But now being a starter, that's different. You have to prepare different, you have to be ready. Teams have film on you and they start to see some of your tendencies. So it's going to be a week to week process as we get going. He has never started a game. So it will be a work in progress, but we're very happy with where he's at.
Q. Brian Hartline has taken over as wide receivers coach, could you elaborate on what he has done, how he has adjusted to that role.
RYAN DAY: Brian's again, on short notice, has stepped in and brought a lot of energy. He's got great experience. He's sat in their seats. He's played wide receiver at Ohio State, he's played in the NFL, so he has great experience that he can obviously relay to those guys. But he's done a great job so far.
Q. When you were first named -- and I don't ask this implying that it was right or wrong -- but there were two other guys that had head coaching experience on the staff, how did those conversations go with Kevin and Greg about how you guys were going to work things out and were they surprised maybe that one of them wasn't chosen?
RYAN DAY: Like I said they have been unbelievable and it's all about been about support and how do we get through this thing together. Because there were times along the way we didn't know what tomorrow was going to bring. So it was all about what can we do for the team, how can we get this thing moving forward to have a successful season, because at the end of the day we need to put a good product out on the field on Saturday and so that's what the focus has been.
Q. And general health standpoint is there anybody who won't be available for the game on Saturday?
RYAN DAY: So we have been very healthy. We have been very healthy. There's a couple guys in there that we're going to monitor through the week, but as of right now there's a chance everybody on the team could play. And that's again a tribute to Mickey Marotti and the strength coaching.
Q. You mentioned that you guys added Chris at quarterback, I would assume that he's on scholarship and if he is it seems like you might have to make a move there. Is there any change to the roster to bring Chris in?
RYAN DAY: No, we're at 85 with Chris.
Q. You're at 85 with Chris?
RYAN DAY: Yes.
Q. So somebody's not then.
RYAN DAY: We're at 85 with Chris, yeah.
Q. Ryan, how much -- we know a head coach sets the culture, sets the structure of a program, obviously. But when all that's in place, how much does a head coach matter on game day on Saturday?
RYAN DAY: Well, it's like anything else, I think some of the best coaching is done during the week. The decisions that are made during the week in terms of strategy and what you're doing on the field, I think that the stuff that's done in the off-season in terms of finishing and toughness and willing to go out there in the fourth quarter and go win a game, that stuff is done in the off-season. So I think so much of it has to do with leading up to the game. During the game, obviously the motivation before the game, the sometimes the in-game decisions are important, but I think so much of it has to do with what you do leading up to the game and the decisions that are made mid week.
Q. And when you get in the game, if it's fourth and two from mid field, how will you balance what Ryan Day wants to do in that moment versus what Urban Meyer would do in that moment if he was on the sideline right now?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, three-way decision making. When we're in those situations I'll refer with Kevin and Greg and we'll make the best decision based on the situation, the time, and just try to do what's best to give the team a chance to win.
Q. And the receiver group we know traditionally Ohio State has rotated a lot of receivers. Who stood out, how do you, you have 10 guys who could play, I don't think you can play 10 receivers realistically, who is going to play and how is that going to work?
RYAN DAY: They're all going to play. And we have a great depth there, which I think makes us really strong because when you have receivers who can roll in and out of plays, that keeps them fresh. And think about we have three captains in the wide receiver group alone. A lot of leadership there. But along the way guys get injured too, so you need depth, but the plan is early on to play everybody. Rotate them, get them in the game, play fast and go.
Q. Is KJ Hill just an H back slot guy or can he play outside too?
RYAN DAY: He mostly plays inside. If we needed him out side we could use him, but he's mostly an inside guy.
Q. Do you expect Demario McCall will have a role in there or is he below some other guys?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, you look at what he's done, he's spent time now at receiver. Before he was kind playing a little running back along the way in his career and then to get moved to wide receiver, so now that he's spent most of his time at wide receiver he's improved a lot. How much he's going to play, we'll see throughout the week.
Q. Who actually called you and told you you were the acting head coach?
RYAN DAY: Gene Smith.
Q. Gene Smith. And what did he tell you? What was his message to you?
RYAN DAY: Well, it's just that I was going to be the acting head coach until we had more information about coach and the situation and that just to trust my instinct along the way.
Q. What is the biggest thing that you learned about being a head coach? That one thing that right now you didn't appreciate, three, four weeks ago?
RYAN DAY: You do look at things a little bit differently. You notice things different, you notice the whole picture as opposed to just your position group or maybe your unit. You look at the whole picture. You look at how people walk, how they talk, how they look. Do they look tired, do they look awake, do they look rested or not. So just the view of everybody now their perspective is a little bit wider.
Q. What is the biggest decision that you had to help make personnel-wise during this preseason camp? Was it Michael Jordan going with him at center, comitting to that, what just stands out in your mind as the biggest decision you were in on?
RYAN DAY: I think that obviously moving Mike to center was a big decision for all of us on the offensive staff and it wasn't just me, it was everybody. Everything along the way has been a group effort. So talking to Greg about what he thinks about the offensive line on a daily basis and then making that move is probably the biggest one, yeah.
Q. Back in 1999 or 2000, when were you named starting quarterback for New Hampshire? I'm trying to remember what year it was.
RYAN DAY: That was '99.
Q. What do you remember about that moment? What do you remember about the, I don't know, butterflies, anxiety, whatever you want to call it when you're going into your first game as a starter? What stood, stands out to this day about that moment?
RYAN DAY: Well I remember it was Chip's first time being an offensive coordinator and he called a double reverse pass. So that's what I remember. And then we went on to win and we were playing at Rhode Island.
Q. The responsibility of being --
RYAN DAY: I know what you're asking. Again, it goes back to just trust your instincts. And the whole idea that you've been working your whole life to be in situations, be the starting quarterback. And that you can over think things, but in the end have confidence in who you are.
Q. Obviously, you've expressed that thought to Dwayne?
RYAN DAY: I have. Yeah. I have.
Q. How often?
RYAN DAY: The thing we talk about with Dwayne is he doesn't have to be JT, he doesn't have to be Braxton, he doesn't have to be Cardale. All the quarterbacks, they have to be themselves. So whether it was when we were in Philly talking to Sam Bradford or when we were in Boston college talking to Matt Ryan or whoever, along the way, you have to find your own way to lead. You have to find your own way. Now there are a lot of things that leaders have in common and we share those and talk about those. But along the way you have to find your own way and that's been the message.
Q. One last question, y'all are opening with Oregon State. I don't think you've been asked about them. Brand new coaching staff they brought in and stuff. What do you know about Oregon State or are you did you spend a lot of time looking at Washington and while obviously you're on offense, but defensively Colorado, but just in a nutshell what's your take on Oregon State?
RYAN DAY: Right, so Jonathan comes over and obviously has had a great career and he's going to come in with a lot of energy. They made the move to go to a defensive front with Tim Tibesar coming over from Wisconsin. So he was a linebacker coach last year and obviously they have a great system. So they're going to be instituting that Wisconsin system of some three down, some four down, and they're very, very aggressive and obviously been one of the best defenses in the country year and year out. So.
Q. Interesting you and Jonathan are both 39 years old.
RYAN DAY: I did see that when I was reading up on it. Yeah.
Q. How different is this team with you running it, in that you are trying to avoid disruption or trying to establish some continuity with what Urban Meyer was doing, as opposed to if this was your team?
RYAN DAY: I haven't thought of it like that, because my goal is just to keep this thing going. I think if, when you come out to practice, you would see that the team is running just like if Coach was here. We have kept everything intact and so that's been the goal along the way.
Q. Saturday will be your first game as a head coach, I'm wondering who is going to be there for you from your family and whatnot.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, my family will be here. We tried not to make it too crazy and have everybody come in because, again, this isn't one of those things where I'm becoming the head coach. This is just something that I'm holding the place for Coach until he gets back and the goal is to win the game against Oregon State.
Q. Brandon Bowen was a guy that started last year, Brandon Bowen and looked like he was playing pretty well through the first half of the season and then got injured. Is he still banged up and not ready to go this year?
RYAN DAY: He has been dealing with that leg injury and coming back from it has been a little bit slower than he's liked. But he's still working through that now. But he has missed some time and so I know he's been frustrated with that, but it's a long road to recovery with the injury that he had.
Q. When do you expect to have him back?
RYAN DAY: I don't know right now.
Q. You mentioned earlier Dwayne Haskins needed to change his body. Can you elaborate on that? Did he need to lose some weight, just why did he need to change his body?
RYAN DAY: You can ask Mick that, but obviously the body fat and his composition, his strength, his power, as a quarterback you have to have some size, you have to have some mass back there. When you look at the great quarterbacks they're big. The guys who are frail and skinny, they don't make it. It's one of the greatest things about JT was how durable he was during all that time. So it isn't just putting on fat, it's putting on muscle and mass, so that when you're in there you can take some of the shots and still play throughout a season.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports