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Ryan Day May Give Up Play-Calling Duties for Ohio State Next Season, Herbstreit Says

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 2, 2023

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Ryan Day of the Ohio State Buckeyes is seen during the third quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day might be looking to redefine his role for the 2023 season.

ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit reported Monday on College GameDay (via the Columbus Dispatch's Colin Gay) that Day indicated "he's going to stop calling plays next year because he needs to become more of a manager as a head coach."

"And when you are prepping a game plan, it's a lot more that goes into it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday to be ready to call those plays Saturday," Herbstreit said. "So he's thinking about relinquishing those [responsibilities], which would be the first time ever. I don't know who, Brian Hartline, or whoever, would be involved."

Ohio State is 45-6 and has reached the College Football Playoff three times in Day's four-plus years as head coach. Still, he might have the hottest seat of any Power Five coach heading into next year.

The 43-year-old seems to recognize the exacting standards of his job and how quickly any positive work he had done before can be undone.

After Ohio State missed the playoff and was pushed around in defeats to Oregon and Michigan in 2021, he overhauled his coaching staff. Most notably, he moved on from Kerry Coombs and hired Jim Knowles as the defensive coordinator.

Handing over offensive play-calling duties would be another major shift and a response to one of Ohio State's biggest issues in 2022. Despite Day being an offensive specialist, the unit rarely hit the heights you would've expected given the talent at its disposal.

C.J. Stroud's completion percentage (66.3), passer rating (177.7) and passing yards per game (283.7) were all down from 2021.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba missing most of the season certainly didn't help, but the Buckeyes still had a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. Harrison is arguably the best pass-catcher in the country.

Day already has to replace outgoing offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who took the Tulsa job. Whether promoting Hartline, elevating another assistant or bringing in an outside hire is the pivot, empowering the next offensive coordinator more shouldn't necessarily reflect negatively upon Day.

Nick Saban is arguably the greatest head coach in college football history and he isn't afraid to let his coordinators call plays. Saban's willingness to take a step back and allow Lane Kiffin to run the offensive show is what helped the program adapt and remain a perennial title contender.

Delegating the play-calling on offense might be Day's last big gambit, though. If Ohio State underperforms on that side of the ball and suffers a third straight defeat to Michigan in 2023, then the buck might stop with the head coach.