New Hampshire football legend Ryan Day, who set records as a quarterback at Manchester Central High School and the University of New Hampshire, will take over as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, the university announced Tuesday.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, the Ohio State Athletics Department said current head coach Urban Meyer will retire after the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
Day, his offensive coordinator, will be the team’s 25th head coach. Day will work under a five-year contract worth $4.5 million per year.
During remarks, Day recognized the support from his family in Manchester, and said he first yearned to be part of Ohio State when watching football on his grandfather’s couch.
“To Buckeye Nation, you have my word that I am going to give everything I have to continue the tradition of excellence and winning that this program has enjoyed during its storied career,” Day said.
The announcement means that both Central and UNH will claim bragging rights to nurturing leaders of two of the country’s most acclaimed college football programs — Day at Ohio State and Chip Kelly at UCLA. Kelly, a Central and UNH grad himself, was the offensive coordinator at UNH when Day was quarterback.
“He had that feel. He was a competitive force from the word go,” said Stan Spirou, the former basketball coach at Southern New Hampshire University and Day’s father-in-law. “He wants to win whether he’s playing cards or out in the backyard playing basketball.”
Spirou said Day always analyzes games in terms of strategies and momentum changes.
Day’s resume includes assistant coaching stints with Boston College, Temple and Florida universities, and the Philadephia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers in the NFL under Kelly.
But all that was after the Little Green at Central High School, where he was quarterback from 1993 through 1996.
“He was beyond his years as a high school quarterback. Extremely intelligent about the game,” said Jim Schubert, the former Central High School coach who won his first state championship with Day at quarterback.
On most downs, he would give Day two or three options for a play, and Day would call audibles, Schubert said. “He was an easy-going guy, but once he put on a helmet, he was just driven to win.”
According to a newspaper article at the time, Day set New Hampshire records for career yards (4,099), touchdown passes (57) and season yards when he wrapped up his football career at Central during the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl in 1996. He was named New Hampshire’s Gatorade Player of the Year that year.
“He was definitely a leader. He was 10 steps ahead of where the team was when it comes to game prep and how to look at the game,” said Matt Pinkos, who played alongside Day at Central. He predicted Day will be fantastic at Ohio State.
Day went on to play at University of New Hampshire from 1997 to 2001.
He started at quarterback for three years and set nine school records by the time he graduated. One record still stands — 65 pass attempts in a 2000 game.
He also set career marks for pass completions, completion percentage, touchdown passes and total offense.
Meyer is 85-9 in seven seasons as Ohio State coach, including a 54-4 Big Ten record. He has three national championships on his resume, including one with OSU in 2014 and two with Florida, in 2006 and 2008.
“It’s very difficult, this is all I know,” Meyer said. Meyer suffers from headaches associated with a cyst on his brain, and while at one point under control they had recently returned, the Dayton Daily News said. Last spring, he had started to plan for his successor.
He also has the best record ever — 7 wins, 0 losses — against Ohio State foe Michigan. No one but Meyer who coached Ohio State for more than one season has a record that does not include a loss to the Wolverines, the Daily News wrote.
Meyer was suspended temporarily in August in the wake of an investigation into his knowledge of alleged spousal abuse by former assistant coach Zach Smith.
Day served as interim head coach during Meyer’s absence. He won all three games during the span. The Buckeyes ended this season ranked 6th in the country, narrowly losing out on a spot in the national playoffs.
Spirou said Day received offers last year to coach Mississippi State when Dan Mullen (a graduate of Trinity High School in Manchester) moved to Florida. Day also got an offer from the Tennessee Titans of the NFL. But Spirou said Day and his wife, Christina, want to raise his three children — Ryan Jr., 10; Grace, 8; and Ourania, 5 — in a college environment.
And so it will be Columbus.
“My family and I,” Day said, “have fallen in love with the passion that every fan has for the Buckeyes and what football means for this great state.”