‘Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets’
-Queen, David Bowie 1981
When Queen and David Bowie collaborated on their hit Under Pressure, they had to be aware that their collaboration was bound for greatness. What they couldn’t have known, or if they did would be too cool to care about, was that their anthem would be the perfect soundtrack for new coaches in high profile jobs and in 2019, no new coach is under more pressure to win than Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day.
And why is that exactly? Probably because Day follows Urban Meyer (2012-18), whose 83-9 record includes 7 wins against 0 losses to archrival University of Michigan and a slightly less important National Championship. And who proceeded Urban?
None other than James Patrick Tressel (2001-2010) who went 9-1 against UM and who also won a National Championship. If you are keeping track at home, the last two head coaches each won a National Championship and had a combined 16-1 record against those damn Wolverines.
Good for us, bad for Day.
Of course John Cooper (1988-2000) fared less well against UM (2-10-1) but did the unthinkable. He made it cool (again) for athletes to play football for THE Ohio State University and STOCKED the NFL with Buckeye draft picks. That’s right kids…in the 1990s, there was no cooler place to be a division one football player than right here in our own backyard.
Coop followed Earle Bruce and although Bruce’s tenure (1979-87) could be deemed the least productive in the last 75 years, he still won 81 games against 26 losses (one tie) and went 5-4 against Michigan. He also provided a classic Buckeye moment when in his last game as head coach, he upset UM and was carried off of the field by his players. Before Bruce?
Well hell, you know who he is. Here are his stats: 1951-1978/205-61-10/5 National Titles/16-11-1 against UM.
Outside of the stats and records, to complicate matters for Day, is the fact that we as Ohio State fans are some of the most unrealistic, petulant and entitled in all of sports. Should we apologize for who we are and what our history is? Of course not, being arrogant and having high expectations is our birthright. We just have to temper our expectations for the 2019 College Football Season. And not be assholes.
Why? The answer is simple – we ain’t ever gonna be as good again as we were for the last seven seasons.
Statistically speaking, our program peaked under Meyer. If you think Day is going to win his first seven games against UM, you are nuts. If you think his record through his first 92 games (if he even gets that far) will be 83-9, you are even more delusional. However, if you expect him to win at least one national championship in seven seasons, keep the NFL stocked with draft picks and consistently complete for Big 10 Titles, then congratulations on your realistic expectations.
Here is to hoping Day, who has somehow already improved our recruiting efforts and genuinely seems like a good and decent person, can stay above the fray and balance his priorities and family life while making sound moral decisions. I am also hopeful that he will get another coaching opportunity when his Ohio State career has ended.
Why do I bring up the end of Day’s career at Ohio State? Because with the exception of Earle Bruce, our coaches never really coach again after their OSU tenure has ended. Is this because of morally ambiguous actions (punching an opposing player, lying to NCAA investigators, not being forthcoming about domestic violence accusations) and succumbing to real and imagined pressures? Is it because these coaches are a victim of their own success? Is it because of their ages at the end of their tenure?
I don’t have an answer, but if I did, I would bet a combination of all these factors come into play.
To say Day is under a significant amount of pressure is an understatement of the highest order. How will he handle the pressure? I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t tell you. What I can say is that he has shined in front of the media, seems to have a level head and is smart enough and has enough self awareness to understand the position he is in.
So, the question becomes, ‘How can fans not add any extra pressures to Day and his staff?’ How about not freaking out and/or being on a lunatic on social media if any of the following scenarios occur:
1) Losing in the Big Ten Championship Game. This is a perfectly acceptable season for a rookie Head Coach.
2) Making it to the College Football Playoffs and losing a game. This is a perfectly acceptable season for a rookie Head Coach.
3) Not making the College Football Playoffs. This is a perfectly acceptable season for a rookie Head Coach.
4) Winning every game EXCEPT for Michigan. This is a perfectly acceptable season for a rookie Head Coach (even though it would be a huge bummer).
Listen, we can and should keep our high expectations, but maybe not be such huge tools about it. If Day loses his first three Michigan games and has an overall .600 record over that span, he will be gone. You know it, I know it, and most importantly, he knows it.
Good Luck and God Speed, Ryan Day. You are going to need it.
GOLD PANTS & ROSE BOWLS
- Day promoting long time assistant coach Larry Johnson to Associate Head Coach was a classy and smart move. Johnson is the key to our defensive success.
- Here is a link to Day’s advocacy for mental health awareness. Much respect.
- Day is one year, ten months and eighteen days younger than me. UGH. At least he was born in the 70s.
- Where Ohio State coaches live changes with the times. Woody, Coop and Tressel lived in Upper Arlington, Urban in Murfield Village and Day has migrated north to Lewis Center/Powell. This is not pertinent to anything, I just find it interesting.
- I think JK Dobbins is going to have a HUGE year, especially if starting QB Justin Fields struggles. He is a Heisman dark horse.
- If Day does upset UM in Ann Arbor, I don’t think it is inconceivable (probably still a long shot) to imagine Jim Harbaugh transitioning back to the NFL. If that happens, the UM program is in danger of turning into a museum.
- To OSU alumni, like myself, who went to undergrad during the Cooper era, the heartbreak of not winning a National Championship still hasn’t gone away. I have friends who are neighbors with Coop and report that he is a good man and a great neighbor. I would trade in his kindness and neighborly qualities for a 1998 National Championship.