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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 16, 2019
RYAN DAY: It depends. I obviously want to do it as quickly as I can. We're going to get the best in America because it's Ohio State. Want to make sure we make the right decision for a lot of reasons. We're going to get the best coach in America to go coach that position. That's what's great about Ohio State. We want to move quickly but be smart as well.
Q. A lot of fans have asked about the two-year agreement that Urban asked coaches for. That was nothing written into a contract, correct?
RYAN DAY: That's right.
Q. How important is it to have guys like Greg Mattison and Matt Barnes who have been a co-events coordinator, been in the backroom, to help you through that transition?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, that's huge. Those guys have been around. Obviously Larry Johnson has been around. Greg and Matt, Al Washington, all those guys are huge for us.
It's been a group effort. Certainly going to miss Jeff, wish him nothing but the best of luck. He's going to do a great job at Boston College.
We have a great staff, find someone to fill in, we're going to go find somebody else to fill in. We'll be fine.
Q. Building your coaching staff, did you do it by design to have two defensive coordinators, backs coach, so if someone leaves, you are not starting from scratch?
RYAN DAY: That's exactly it. That's why you do it that way. When you bring in one guy to run the whole thing, and all of a sudden he leaves, that's a problem.
The idea of this defense was something I had a vision of, four down front with cover one, cover three a lot of single high. That's what Jeff fit perfectly, Matt Barnes had done at Maryland, Al had done in his past. It all fit.
We're not all of a sudden going to change. Jeff came in to run this defense, and he did a great job. But we're going to fill that in and we're going to continue to do the same thing we're doing on defense in the future.
Q. I know it's a business trip, players always talk about bowl trips being business trips. But Christmas is coming up. You want this to be something they can both celebrate today and remember tomorrow. How do you balance them focusing on the task at hand and getting the most enjoyment out of this as possible?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, we try to do the best we can to make it a trip that they can enjoy. It's a reward. This one is a little different because we still have a lot on the line here.
It goes back on the seniors. We're going to talk about that today in our team meeting. We still have a lot of work to do here on campus before we get out there.
But this is a little different. Their curfews are going to be a little earlier. We really shouldn't have to enforce those if we have the team we want. While they have to enjoy it, they will enjoy it, it doesn't mean they don't understand what's at stake.
I think our guys will do a great job with that.
Q. Any connections you rely on? Who are the guys whose opinions on defensive football you're going to tap them and say, What do I need to do to replace this guy?
RYAN DAY: You always have a list, you always have people that you have ready. In this world, you go to a place like Ohio State, you do well, things like this are going to happen. You can either go hire somebody that is going to be here for seven or eight years, or go hire the best in the country. We're going to hire the best in the country.
I told the DBs last year at this time, I am going to go get the best guy in the country. They didn't know who Jeff Hafley was, now they love him, they're going to miss him.
Going to do the same thing again next year, go get the best there is. You call around to different people that you respect. But usually the people you bring in are people that you know really well and you trust.
Q. We've asked you I think a couple times this year about how analytics factor into the way you game plan, philosophy. Along those lines, how much do you look at scoring the very end of the first half, very beginning of the second half? Seems like you have been very good at that this year.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, I think when you look at it, that is a very important part of the game, that area right there. If you win those areas, you typically give yourself a chance to win the game.
We don't get too pigeonholed on exactly like us trying to game plan those times of the game. But certainly when you're talking to the guys, you say, Listen, this is a big point in the game, we have to really be on point right here. You talk about those things.
I think the more the guys play the game, the more they experience, they understand the critical timings where you have to be on your game. Like you say, those are important. To say you game plan or do different things in those moments, that's probably not accurate.
Q. Have you felt like you've been fairly successful in those moments, especially the last touchdown with Wisconsin?
RYAN DAY: No, yeah, I think we have been pretty good in those areas. It's important. Look at some of the great teams. The years under Belichick with the Patriots. Those guys are unbelievable in those spots right there.
You try to get the feel for those games when it's right. There's also been times where at the end of the first half we have to take a knee to get ourselves under control. Penn State game, midfield, let's just get back into halftime.
Some of it's a feel, too. It has to go along with the analytics, as well.
Q. You've been asked this several times throughout the season. Could you reflect on it now. You've had a whirlwind month, season, for a guy your age in his first season coaching in a big-time program. I know you have a ways to go, but is there a time driving home or laying in bed at night, you're going, Oh, my God, what just happened? Have you been able to reflect on it like that?
RYAN DAY: No, I haven't had time to think at all. This last week was the craziest week I've ever been a part of. We have these midyear guys coming in. We have four and a half days to get there. There's different award ceremonies, things all over the country. It was crazy. Practice.
We only have three weeks to get ready for this game. Really when you put recruiting into it, you have two weeks to play this game. This was a week where every second mattered in recruiting. I thought we did a good job getting out there. Had to travel a lot, do a lot of stuff.
Again, now it's back to focusing on Clemson, winning this game. Then again, once we get done with the season, we'll sit back and thing. But there's no time for that now.
Q. There must be moments when you think about yourself, what's just happened, how it's affected your family and everything.
RYAN DAY: Again, try not to worry about that too much because it's not going to help me right now. Obviously proud of what we've done, proud of what the staff has done. We'll get together Wednesday, have signing day there, enjoy a little time right there. I think that will be fun.
But we still have a lot of work to do, because this game is on you right now. No time to sit back and think. In the past there was another week where you could prepare for this game. I have not played in this game before. Talking to the other coaches who have, this game is rushed more than it ever has been.
Again, it's all about how do we utilize these guys, each day get ready for this game.
Q. I'll ask you in a month.
RYAN DAY: Okay (smiling).
Q. Ohio State has eight national championships, probably twice as many teams that came one win short. Maybe a handful of those teams were one game away from being champion, but a legendary team. Is that something you incorporate into your message with these guys?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, it will be. We haven't talked about that part of it because we hadn't been to this point yet. We didn't want to get ourselves too far ahead. That is going to be part of the message, though, that if you want to be known as one of the best of all time, be up there with the national champs, you want to be in rare air, here we go, this is the push right here.
Yeah, that will be part of the message. Not that it really matters with our day-to-day operation. We're not going to be trying harder or anything else like that. We just got to do a great job of focusing day in, day out, maximizing each day as we can so we're prepared on the 28th.
Q. Is Al Washington under contract? If he is, will you allow him to go to BC for a defensive coordinator position if he wants to?
RYAN DAY: If that's what he would want to do, I'd be very, very surprised. Be shocked, to be honest with you. If that's what he wanted to do, I'd support him. I don't see that happening at all.
Q. We've chatted before about this new world you're in. That's like confirmation. How do you keep a four- or five-star happy when they look and can see three to four guys found a better situation?
RYAN DAY: I think it just goes to show you what the temperature of quarterback play is right now in college football. I think especially when you look at our situation, you had Dwayne, you had Joe, now you have Justin. It's just amazing to think those have been the three quarterbacks in that room over the last two to three years. It's just amazing.
So happy that it worked out for Joe. Couldn't have happened to a better person or better family. Just awesome to see.
But, yeah, it's one of those things I think you just have to deal with on a year-to-year basis, try to figure out the best way to manage your team. It's not easy. You like to have four quarterbacks. It's almost impossible now to have four quarterbacks on your roster that are on scholarship because they all want to play right now.
The great thing about coming to Ohio State is you know you're going to get developed at a high level. The hard thing about that is as you develop these guys, if they can't play at Ohio State, they feel like they can play somewhere else. They go on, possibly try to play somewhere else. It's frustrating.
But like you said, it's kind of the way it is now. We don't want that. We want guys to be here, stay here, be here throughout their whole careers.
At the same time I'm understanding of what people want to do. So we'll just keep adjusting as time goes on.
Q. Is it about the player, about the way quarterbacks are developed now in high school, about how college offenses are? In the case of Fields and Hurts, they show up. Joe was at least at LSU for a year and played. It's like instant results with Justin Fields and Jalen Hurts.
RYAN DAY: When you look at Jalen and Joe, they're both grad transfers who had played. First off, Jalen played in a national championship, played a lot of football. That doesn't surprise me at all. Joe going down there and playing the way he did doesn't surprise me either. He has been around a lot of football here, been around a lot of quarterbacks in J.T., learned the right way.
I think Justin is probably the anomaly where he came in, was a first-year starter, in short order got himself ready to play, played at the highest level of college football as a sophomore. That's a tribute to what he's done.
Q. Did you see where ESPN ranked Urban as the 46th best college football coach of all time?
RYAN DAY: I didn't see that.
Q. You mentioned schedule already, how crazy last week was. This week is also a little condensed. In the past the time has been almost too much before a bowl game. This year it's different. How do you manage it, how difficult is it to plan when it seems like there's not too much time?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, no, it's different. But it's the same for both teams. It's like anything else, like dealing with rain or something like that in a game.
This is the situation, now we got to deal with it, maximize our situation better than our opponent. That's what it comes down to. To say it's easy? No, it's not easy, it's a lot. You talk about getting worn down and running from day to day as hard as you can go, waking up early in the morning, going to bed late at night, flights, everything else. There's a lot that goes in into it.
It is what it is. That's why we have a great team, a great team that can handle it, good maturity on the team. We are going to go in and have a great week of practice this week. We are going to let them go home, catch their breath, then meet out in Arizona.
Q. The players traveling last week, do they have set things you want them to try to do on the road to stay in shape?
RYAN DAY: We try to make sure we get a good lift, a good run, when they get there, and also when they come back. Just make sure we are on top of that.
Those guys need rest, too, coming off a long season. They weren't gone long enough that it made a big difference.
Q. As you look at Clemson, what jumps out on their defense and how good are these guys?
RYAN DAY: I think they're really good. They have a lot of skill, a lot of speed. Simpson is the guy inside that kind of makes everything go. They do a great job of changing up looks, three down, four down, a lot of pressure, try to get you off schedule.
Historically over the last decade or more, Venables has been one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. They continue to do really good on defense. A lot of good players, a lot of good talent over there. The back end is as good as we'll see. They have a lot of skill.
Q. It's been a grind to get to this point. Now you're here, only four teams. What is the philosophy of the team? One of the these four is going to be a national champion.
RYAN DAY: The first thing is you have to believe, you have to believe that you belong as national champs. You go from there.
Our preparation doesn't need to change in terms of what we've done to this point. We don't need guys to do extraordinary things. We need them to continue what they're doing.
The most important thing, at any cost, whatever it takes to win, you do. Everybody has to be willing to do whatever it takes. Selfishness can't be in the way at this point. I mean, it has to be everybody onboard doing everything they can to win every play. You talk about every yard mattering, every first down mattering, every series mattering, that's going to be the case here.
All hands on deck. We got to be really efficient. We have to believe we can win the whole thing.
Q. When you go against a Venables defense, you can pull your hair out of what's coming. What's the approach you have to take preparing for that kind of defense?
RYAN DAY: There's a lot that goes into it. You got to do a great job with the scout teams, giving them a clean plan. You just go about the business of continuing watching film, doing a great job with the scout team, giving the guys the blitz patterns, communicating, practicing them at a high level.
Q. You've been here almost to the day after 31-0. What has changed about this offense now that's better suited to play a Clemson in this kind of setting? What have you really established?
RYAN DAY: Again, I wasn't here. I wasn't in that game. Actually really didn't watch that game all that much.
But I know and am proud of what we've done in terms of the last couple years, we've adapted both of the offenses to who we've had. It was J.T., Dwayne and now it's Justin. The offense has really fit who the quarterbacks are really well and their strengths.
I think for the most part we've taken care of the football, we played with good tempo. We stay on schedule, try to be penalty-free, play well in the red zone.
As long as you can do those things right there, stay on schedule, you're going to score points. When you compare that with the defense, complement that with the special teams, you have a chance to win games.
Q. When you send these guys home for a couple of days on Wednesday, what will be your instructions to them? You want them to enjoy time with their family, but they're not going to be home for Christmas. What do you want them to think about?
RYAN DAY: I think, again, you want to rest. That's what it comes down to. The idea of sending them home to be with their families, to get away for a little while. After a long, long season you need a little bit of a break. And they won't be home for Christmas, so I think it's the right thing to do. They show up in Arizona energized.
As much as they are relaxing, in the back of their mind they know they got a job to do, so when they arrive on Sunday, it's all hands on deck, then we have a week to prepare.
Q. Even as recently as last year, you were like Jeff Hafley, a young, solid mind in that field, people were excited about you. You even had job offers to leave earlier than what happened here at Ohio State. I was wondering your personal experience being in the same exact position, ironically enough he's at a place you once coached, how did that put you in a position to help guide him?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, it's tough this time of year especially. But Jeff is a pro. He understands how to compartmentalize things. He'll do a great job of that.
Yeah, I mean, it's one of those things where Jeff handled it the right way. We got through the Big Ten championship game, won the game, then he kind of went about his business of going after that. It wasn't during the rivalry week or championship week where he was spending a lot of time doing that.
His dedication to his players and this program, for the opportunities it gave him, he handled that the right way. He's going to a great place. Boston College is a great place. I was there for nine years, have my masters degree there, with great people there. Between Martin Jarmond, Father Jack, Father Leahy, they'll do something good there. He'll do a good job.
But he's going to finish out the season with us, hopefully it's after the national championship. He will have a dual role a little bit. They have a guy on their staff doing the same things. That's the way it goes.
Q. When colleges make transitions, bigger colleges, Ohio State, Florida State, there's this idea they should hire a person to make a big splash, a brand name, somebody exciting. Based on the Playoff field having four coaches promoted within, how important do you think that is to be a part of a program beforehand, how did that change the way you found success?
RYAN DAY: It's a great question.
I think that's one of the reasons why we've had so much success here. When Gene Smith decided to stay within the program, keep some continuity within the program, keep it the way it was, I thought that was a huge decision by him. It was a little risky, call it for what it is. First-time head coach at Ohio State, for him to take a chance with me here... Again, I can't ever say enough of what he did making that decision.
But that had a huge part of this, keeping the continuity there, promoting from within. When you look at some of the great organizations not only in football, that's how they keep success going, is doing that, not starting over from scratch. Yeah, I think that's great leadership and a great AD making a decision to keep it within house.
You look at what Lincoln has done, Dabo, Ed Orgeron, you look at those guys, they've done a great job within that. That plays a big part in why it's been so successful.
Q. There was a world where you could have been at a place like BC last year. Based on the experience that you've had right now, where you are, do you ever think about what it would have been like had you had to start somewhere new, fresh, maybe somewhere that didn't have all the built-in foundational things that Urban built here? Being the big-shot name that got to go somewhere else, what that would have been like, what more challenges it would have been?
RYAN DAY: I think every situation is different. You just do the best you can to try to figure out what's right at the place you're at. Every situation is different. Jeff is going to be going into a situation that's very different than the situation I walked into. Doesn't make it easier, doesn't make it harder, it's just different.
You do the best you can to figure out what's right. You trust your gut and go with it.
Q. Any sense right now of where things are physically for Shaun Wade? How much has he had to gut things out here the last couple weeks?
RYAN DAY: He's been doing a good job. Getting a lot of rest here. As we get going in practice today and this week, we'll probably have a better idea where he's at.
Q. As far as when you have a guy who is so, with Hafley, critically involved in recruiting, especially a position as important as defensive backs, how awkward is that these few days? How much is he still involved, how much you don't want him involved?
RYAN DAY: It not awkward. These guys chose this school for Ohio State, for what we're doing on defense. The defense isn't going to change. I've talked to the recruits about that. It's my job to go find them the best in the country. I felt like I did that last year. I'm going to do that again this year.
We're not going to change the defense. The defense is a vision I had early on when this whole thing started. Ohio State has been here a lot longer than Jeff Hafley. It's going to continue to be great.
Coach Hafley is a big reason they came here, but it wasn't the only reason. Our guys have been strong in their response. They're excited to sign on Wednesday.
Q. You've talked about the value of these practices several times. Are they more like an off-day, bye-week practice because you don't have a game this week? Is this a game week?
RYAN DAY: This one is a game week. We have practice Friday, Saturday. That was more a, like you're saying, bye week practice. We're into game week now.
Q. You talked about Justin on the Friday before the Big Ten title game. The toughness has shown. He was limited in practice that week. Has that still been the case for him last week? How close can you get him back to full mobility by next week?
RYAN DAY: I think with this rest, he's going to be at 100%.
Q. You've already talked quite a bit about the recruiting. Have you had to talk the defensive backs specifically, no names obviously, but just reassuring them that things are going to be fine, you'll have somebody?
RYAN DAY: With the guys on our team?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, yeah, talk to those guys every day for the most part. Response has been good. It's been great. Certainly they're disappointed that they're not going to get coached by Jeff. But they're excited to sign.
They've been great. It's been really positive. They understand this is an unbelievable program that's on the rise. We have a great defensive system. There's great opportunity in the back end next year. Guys are going to be coming in with an opportunity to play.
They're excited to be here. They'll find out who is going to coach them. They will in time. I promised them I'm going to give them the best situation possible to make sure they can reach their dreams and goals.
That's the whole idea, they committed to me as the head coach, to Ohio State. They understand that. That's been the response.
Q. Do you expect all five of them to sign this week?
RYAN DAY: I do.
Q. Are you expecting to sign two quarterbacks this year?
RYAN DAY: I don't know, yeah, we're still working through that. Here is the deal. Right now we want to make sure that we have four quarterbacks in that room, at least three. That's something that's not easy to do. So we're trying to figure that out. Like we said before, with the quarterback situation, it's tough to make sure we have that. We have to make sure that that quarterback room is solidified moving forward.
Q. One of the reasons people say quarterbacks are able to play right away, freshmen, sophomores, so early in their careers, it's quarterback training growing up. Justin, Trevor, they both had private quarterback coaches. With Justin, did you find that to be a big benefit from that? Did he come in polished?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I don't quite know. I know he was exposed to a high level of football just in terms of his understanding of situations, of playing the game, of coverages, things like that. Pretty good coming in. Didn't know our offense and hadn't played. He wasn't, like, raw coming in.
I thought they did a good job. Again, the most exciting things with Justin Fields is he has a huge ceiling. I can't wait to work with him in the off-season, keep growing from here. In order to play the way he did this year, he had to come in with a certain level of foundation, and he did.
Q. What about mechanical, footwork, things like that?
RYAN DAY: That's all stuff we got to look at in the off-season.
Q. With Brendon White, he went in the transfer portal last week. Obviously if guys go in the portal, they're allowed to come back. You might lose guys in the secondary. Is he leaving? Would you consider bringing him back?
RYAN DAY: I don't have an update on him right now.
Q. You're crisscrossing the country the last four, five days, doing award shows. How hard is it to remain in the moment? I assume you hear the clock ticking with this game coming.
RYAN DAY: Right.
Q. To be there for the guys, not be thinking ahead to the game, is that a challenge? Do you have iPads, you're looking at things while you're on the road? I assume you don't just put it aside.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, no, right after the game, after we got done with the selection show, Joe loaded up my iPad full of film. When I was on the plane or in the hotel room, we had time, I was watching film, trying to get ahead. So was the staff.
That's not easy to do when you're out there recruiting, you're running from place to place, airport to airport, like you said, award show to award show.
You just do the best you can with it. You're not going to be perfect. It not going to be perfect. You wish you had another week. They don't either. They're dealing with the same situation. Again, we just want to maximize the best we can to handle it better than they do.
Q. They have two games on Chase now where he's been okay, but not like he was earlier in the season, to our eyes. What can you do differently with Chase moving forward into this game?
RYAN DAY: I mean, I think there's all kinds of different things you can do. But at the end of the day, if they really want to slide, chip, put three guys on him, it's going to be hard. That's where the other guys have to step up.
Again, any time they decide to do something like that, put extra resources into stopping Chase, they're giving up something else. Our defensive staff will be looking at that, try to figure out how we can get a schematic advantage.
Q. Teams try to do that earlier in the season, no personnel, or is this the last two game phenomena?
RYAN DAY: It's a combination of two things. They had a year's worth of film. I think they did a good job scheming it. Those are good teams, they're top-10 teams with good players. I think it's a combination of two of those things.
Q. Is the game plan then on Clemson?
RYAN DAY: That's this week. Today is like a typically Tuesday practice for us. Tuesday is first, second down. Wednesday is third down, red zone. Thursday is kind of our polish. We are into a Tuesday right now.
Q. You were in the room when Joe Burrow made that speech. As a result of what he said about Athens and southeast Ohio, he's raised $60,000 at food pantries. He took that thing to a whole new level, did he not, beyond the game?
RYAN DAY: Yeah.
Q. You talked about him ad nauseam. It was damn impressive.
RYAN DAY: To be there and experience that was one of those things I'll remember till I'm 80 years old. That was as cool a night and moment as I've ever been around. Although he thought that out, that was just him being himself. For him to go through what he's been through, play the way he's played, see the emotion of what this has meant to him and his family, unbelievable. Talk about class. There's not a classier guy out there.
I was just, you know, humbled to be in the room, to be part of his journey.
Q. Is Corey Dennis going to Colorado State? Can you confirm that?
RYAN DAY: I don't know. I don't know if they have or not yet. I don't want to blow them up. I know he has a chance.
Q. Do you foresee any other coaches leaving? Is the staff going to be intact other than Jeff?
RYAN DAY: I'd be surprised if any of that stuff happens. I think we're in pretty good shape, pretty solid. I've not heard of anything otherwise.
Q. In terms of the recruiting class on Wednesday, it's considered top five. How good do you feel about that? How much uncertainty is there?
RYAN DAY: I feel great about the class. You can get the top five, top three. You start to figure out who likes a guy, who doesn't like a guy. We know sometimes those are really accurate, sometimes they're not accurate.
I know this: we're going to sign a really good class this year, really excited about it. Really good people, really good prospects.
Q. You obviously worked with Mark Pantoni as an assistant here in recruiting. Can you describe how your relationship has worked this year, him understanding your vision of how you want to go about recruiting? How have you worked together to shape this class?
RYAN DAY: I just have a tremendous amount of trust in what Mark's opinion is, the way he works. I kind of let him run the personnel department, is the best way to put it. That's recruiting. There's a lot that goes into it. It's not just evaluating. That's a big part of it, but some of it. It's everything else, the organization of recruiting trips, the organization of recruiting weekends, the organization of the staff, where we put people, the recruiting, everything. He does it all. Organizes the numbers.
The amount of trust that I have in him is off the charts. What he's done this year, helped put together this class, you can't put a value on that.
Q. Thinking about the class you're pulling together now, when you arrived here in January of 2017, Ohio State was about to pull in a class that was number two in the country. Do you remember what you thought when you got here, Chase Young? What did you think of that class?
RYAN DAY: No, I mean, I know when you're at Ohio State, you're going to get top recruiting classes because you have kind of first pick. Yeah, you have to go recruit them, evaluate them, do a great job with them.
At the time just coming in, I never realized they'd be this good of players. You talk about some of the greats, J.K., Jeff, Baron, Chase, great players, but better people. The leadership they've brought is unbelievable. That staff did a great job bringing these guys in.
Q. You made it clear from the start with this defense, you said you wanted to make sure you had a four-guy front. It feels like today you're talking more about your overall defensive philosophy with cover one and cover three. Seems like more than we've heard you talk about it before. I don't know. Moments like this, when you are turning staff over for the first time, is this a moment where a coach does have to make clear guys come and guys go, but this is what we are, what we do? It feels like you're maybe making sure everybody understands that.
RYAN DAY: Absolutely. That's what it comes down to. I couldn't really have those conversations in the pre-season or in the spring or anything because I didn't really want anybody to know what we were doing. As time has gone on, now it's on film, people know what our identity is. It's been great.
It's what you've said, we've recruited defensive linemen at a high level, so we want those guys on the field. Based on the experiences I've had as an offensive coordinator, calling plays, I think that gives us the biggest struggle, that kind of defense. You mix that in with the guys we're recruiting, the guys we have now, it's a great fit. Linebackers, safeties, corners. That puts stress on the defense.
Do I think we'll evolve as time goes on? Sure. That's the philosophy, those are the conversations I had with those guys when I came in. That's why Greg is here, Larry, Al. They're four-down guys. Jeff was a cover three guy coming from San Francisco. Seattle, Pete Carroll cover three. That's what I want to do moving forward.
Those are the reasons they're here. They didn't come here to run something they didn't have a background in. That's why we targeted those guys. We'll continue to do that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports