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Ryan Day Says Filling In For Urban Meyer 'Felt Like My Hair Was On Fire'

Paul Vernon
Associated Press
Acting Ohio State University football coach Ryan Day, center, is seen during NCAA college football practice in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018.

Speaking to the media for the first time since being named Ohio State’s interim head football coach, Ryan Day tried to describe a team that’s gotten stronger since being put under the national microscope.

“I understand there’s been a lot of pain, and a lot of stress for a lot of people over the last few weeks,” Day said in his opening remarks.

Day got the job August 1 when Ohio State put head coach Urban Meyer on paid leave amid an investigation into how he reported domestic violence allegations against a former assistant.

Day, usually the offensive coordinator, will lead the team as Meyer serves a three-game suspension. He says he initially felt like his “hair was on fire” as he had to worry about the entire team for the first time.

But he says the team has showed resolve.

“If we’re an average team, then the adversity will crush us," Day said. "If we’re a good team, then we can survive it. But if we’re a great team, then we can get actually better from it. And I can sit here and tell you that over the past few weeks that our team has gotten stronger.”

Saturday’s season opener against Oregon State will be Day’s first game ever as a college head coach. He says he was surprised when he got the call over fellow assistants Kevin Wilson and Greg Schiano, both of whom have head coaching experience.

“It did catch me off guard,” Day said. “It was one of those things where you wake up the next day and you think ‘Is this really happening? And then you just put one foot in front of the other.”

Schiano also spoke to reporters on Monday. When asked about Ohio State’s decision to go with Day over him, Schiano said, “Whenver you have a situation like this, it’s very complex.... Ryan is certainly qualified to do this.”

The comments from Schiano, a former head coach at Rutgers University and for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, come nine months after he reportedly lost his chance at the University of Tennessee’s head coaching job because of his connection to Penn State and disgraced former assistant Jerry Sandusky, who is serving life in prison after being convicted of 45 counts related to the sexual abuse of young boys.

Schiano was a graduate assistant and assistant coach at Penn State from 1990 to 1995. In a deposition, former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary said another assistant told him Schiano reported witnessing Sandusky abuse a child. Schiano has denied making any such comments.