2023 Ohio State University
It's hard to look around college football and find a coach who has done more than Ryan Day before the age of 45. He was the hand picked prodigee of the multi-time national championship winning coach Urban Meyer and since he has taken over has won 88.2% of his games at Ohio State, has only lost two conference games and three regular season games during his four seasons as head coach, as well as two conference championships. Alongside his incredible coaching staff he has pulled in three top five recruiting classes and is well on his way to make it four with the stellar class of 2023. But Ryan Day has lost the confidence of Buckeye Nation over the last two seasons due to losses to That Team Up North.
While Day has yet to have a bad season he has become heavily criticized for his lack of ability to win the big game. He has won just two bowl games in five appearances with multiple playoff losses. Everyone knew that the young and inexperienced Day was stepping into some big shoes at Ohio State and he was going to be under constant pressure after the success of Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel and likely wasn't going to be granted much time to get settled. He has had a good start to his career, but it may be make or break time for the hand-picked prodigy.
Now going into season number five at Ohio State he is once again faced with putting a new quarterback at the helm after sending each of his last two starters to the NFL in the top 11 picks. While some may allow for a buffer year to adjust to a new quarterback, it's no secret that many members of the Buckeye fan base are putting Day on the hot seat going into the 2023 season. The expectation for Ohio State is to be a champion every year, however unrealistic that goal may be it is the one set for the Buckeyes.
Being that it's just the first year for a new quarterback Day doesn't have to go undefeated and win the national title to secure his spot as the coach in Columbus this year, but come Thanksgiving he has to take down that team up north. In Ohio State's history they have had 24 head coaches since their start in 1890 and since that point on only three coaches have survived losing to their rivals in three straight years. Albert E. Herrnstein who lost four straight games to their rivals in his four seasons as coach from 1906-1909. John W. Wilce who coached from 1913-1928 lost six straight in the 1920s before winning his final matchup in 1928, but then was replaced, and John Cooper who was kept in at head coach for over a decade in the 90s despite 10 losses in the rivalry and 0-5-1 record in his first six meetings.
Three straight losses to that team up north is a career ending curse for a head coach at Ohio State and will likely mean the end of the Ryan Day era as well if he can't win this year. The curse sent the great Woody Hayes packing following his third straight loss in 1978 and the subsequent "punch heard round the world" in the '78 Gator Bowl against Clemson that ended off his career. If Ryan Day want's to not only save his job at Ohio State, but also his legacy, it's now or never.