Eighteen years ago, Ryan Day was about to start his junior season as the starting quarterback at the University of New Hampshire when he talked to the Boston Globe for a season preview.
Day threw 18 touchdown passes — but also 14 interceptions — the previous season in 1999 as New Hampshire finished 5-6.
“It’s about time we started getting this program headed in a different direction,” Day said. “We have to have a winning season. Anything else would be absolutely disappointing.”
The Wildcats did improve to 6-5 that season, but it’s safe to say the bar has risen for Day over the years, and the goals for his new job — he was named the 25th head coach in Ohio State Buckeyes football history on Tuesday — don’t get any bigger.
“No. 1, win the rivalry game,” Day said. “No. 2, win every game after that.”
Day will replace Urban Meyer after the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Meyer finished 7-0 against Michigan. He also won a national championship in 2014 and three Big Ten championships.
Meyer was 37 when he coached his first college football game at Bowling Green in 2001. Day is 39 and will be 40 when he coaches his first game next season on Aug. 31, 2019, against Florida Atlantic at Ohio Stadium.
Meyer said he couldn’t imagine taking over a program as big as Ohio State at Day’s age, but the situations are different. Day spent two years on Meyer’s staff and served as acting head coach in August and September when Meyer was suspended.
“I wasn’t knee-deep in it like he was,” Meyer said. “He earned a lot of responsibilities that I gave him over the years. And then obviously he’s 3-0 as the coach already before we start. And he’s very unique to be able to handle that.”
In one respect, Day is already the head coach. He’ll take the lead on recruiting in December. Meyer will visit with recruits on campus.
“After we get done (at the press conference), it’s going to be a sprint to get out and get in homes and get around to some of the families,” Day said. “Obviously a lot of relationships are already built there. Some other ones, especially on defense, maybe aren’t as strong yet. But the response has been great. The response has been strong. And I’m excited to get on the road.”
Meanwhile, both coaches will prepare for Meyer’s last game as head coach and his first appearance in the Rose Bowl.
“I take this responsibility very seriously,” Day said, “and I want to thank the former players who have set the standard so high here. You’re always welcome and continue to be welcome and this is your home. On the field you can expect a team that’s going to be tough, that’s going to have great energy and will be creative. On offense, we continue to force defenses to cover the entire field this year as we went from J.T. Barrett to Dwayne Haskins at quarterback this season, which took on a very different attack. But I feel strongly about our offense’s ability to modify and adapt to our personnel year in, year out.”