Every Ohio State football head coach this century has had the same checklist — compete for national championships, beat Michigan and … open the second day of the annual Ohio High School Football Coaches Clinic as the featured speaker.
Friday, first-year OSU front man Ryan Day completed his initial appearance as the latter.
Speaking to a throng of coaches — both high school and college — Day reiterated the positions of his predecessors inside the Hilton Columbus at Easton’s Grand Ballroom. The message? Passion and appreciation for Ohio high school football.
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“I believe that some of the best high school programs and best high school coaches are here in Ohio,” Day said. “I believe it’s our responsibility at Ohio State to recruit your players at the highest level and to keep our players at home. I hope you felt that over the last month with our coaches on the road that we got a feel of that for the future and moving forward. We’re going to continue to recruit the state as hard as we possibly can.”
Ohio State will impact other facets as well.
Stating that it’s the Buckeyes “responsibility to make the state better at football,” Day is continuing a stance shared by the last two Ohio State coaches – Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel. Invest in preps.
Meyer was in attendance Friday to accept an award from the OHSFCA for his service to the association covering the previous seven seasons. He was awarded a framed picture commemorating Ohio State’s Rose Bowl win over Washington.
“(Day) was handpicked by several very important people, including our athletic director, and he’s a perfect fit for Ohio State,” Meyer said. “He’s a man’s man that understands the value of what’s done here in this room.”
Growing and grooming Ohio football are goals of the OHSFCA. Providing opportunities for players is a main objective. The annual clinic and Ohio State’s continued participation in it produce influential funds, awareness and educational opportunities for both coaches and players.
Said OHSFCA president and longtime clinic director Gerry Cooke (Zanesville High School): “We’re very proud of what we do.”
Last year the OHSFCA granted over $30,000 worth of scholarships to Ohio seniors (in denominations of $500 and $1,000). Since the program began, over $1.2 million has been granted. Any senior in an extracurricular can apply.
Tabbed “America’s Greatest Football Clinic,” the OHSFCA event isn’t the country’s largest (Texas), but it is significant. More than 2,000 of the association’s 3,000-plus members attend as do coaches from Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Canada. Fifty-five vendors rent space.
The breadth of speakers is just as varied.
Unlike other state-specific clinics that can be dominated by one university, the OHSFCA clinic features Ohio State (had three coaches speak), but also has varied representation. In addition to coordinators or assistants from Michigan State, Minnesota, Pitt, Ohio, Toledo, Kent State, Miami, Ashland, Notre Dame College, Ohio Dominican, Tiffin, Saginaw Valley State, Marietta, Mount Union and Ohio Northern leading sessions, head coaches from West Virginia (Neal Brown), Indiana (Tom Allen), Cincinnati (Luke Fickell), Kentucky (Mark Stoops), Akron (Tom Arth), Bowling Green (Scot Loeffler), Findlay (Rob Keys) and Trine (Troy Abbs) were also featured.
That kind of diversity and availability continues to be key in Ohio maintaining its position as one of the nation’s top recruited and respected high school football states. Kentucky assistant coach Steve Clinkscale pointed out the Wildcats alone have signed 47 Ohio players the last four years.
Said Clinkscale: “What it boils down to is what’s best for the kids.”
What was best for Meyer’s son, Nate (now a freshman baseball player at Cincinnati), was playing high school football in the Buckeye State. Meyer said he vividly remembers the day his son suited up on Ohio soil.
He cried. It was a scrimmage.
“I couldn’t help it,” Meyer said. “My kid played right where I wanted him to play — for you guys (Ohio coaches). I’m internally grateful for that, for his experience and my experience. I’ll always be a part of you guys. I’ll always be around to help this state, this university and this association.”