NEW YORK — There were tears when Ohio State was called in for a team meeting on Tuesday morning, but apparently not much surprise.
Urban Meyer was choked up. Dwayne Haskins admitted he wasn’t able to hold back his emotions either as the Buckeyes were informed that their coach was retiring.
But for those closest to Meyer like his Heisman Trophy-finalist quarterback, there had been a realization for a while that the end was near. And the Buckeyes were already preparing for what comes next now that Ryan Day is set to ascend to the top of the program.
“I mean, as far as Coach Meyer, that cyst is pretty serious, so I knew he would eventually stop coaching,” Haskins said at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. “When? I didn’t know. But I know with the headaches he’s been having and the health issues he’s been having, I would tell him personally if it was affecting his life, he should stop coaching. I’m glad he has his health at the end of the day.
“Coach Day has done a great job throughout fall camp and during the first three games and the whole entire season with handling our team, handling our offense. I feel like he’s the right man for the job. Coach Meyer did a great job giving him all the tools to be the head coach.”
Day certainly proved himself with his collaborative work with Haskins this season, with the offensive coordinator and rocket-armed passer combining to author the most prolific single-single-season passing performance in Big Ten history.
And Meyer’s confidence in Day was part of the reason there was as much comfort as there possibly could have been with the legendary coach electing to pass the torch and step away from the Buckeyes. From an offensive standpoint, there is really no arguing with Day’s acumen after helping guide Haskins to an eye-popping 51 touchdowns accounted for in his first season as a starter — or shock the fact that his star pupil would endorse the promotion.
“Just his professional background, his offensive background, he’s a really smart guy and a really good people person,” Haskins said. “He gets the most out of people and the offense, so I’m excited to see how the defense responds to him. But I definitely think he can do after the first three games at the beginning of the year and being that head guy during that time.
“You know, people fed off his energy, and he’s the right person for the job.”
Could Day’s elevation to the head chair be enough to entice Haskins to stick around at Ohio State and put off the NFL Draft? Haskins indicated it wouldn’t be a factor, and odds are it won’t make a difference with a prospect who has seen his personal stock shoot up at the same time the numbers on Wall Street were going the other way as he helped ring the closing bell.
That decision will obviously have a significant impact on what Day’s first team at Ohio State looks like next season. And Haskins reiterated both that he will be playing in the Rose Bowl and not making a choice about his professional future until after that game.
Haskins and Day made magic together this season, leaving no doubt at the end of the year that a trip to the Heisman ceremony was justified. And it’s a little scary to think about what they could do with the Buckeyes with another year for Haskins to develop.
“I mean, that would be pretty hard [to break these records],” Haskins joked. “But if it’s possible, Coach Day would definitely be able to help me go do it. Coach Day does a great job preparing me for the game, and just for him to be the head coach would mean that he’s not able to be as hands-on as he was with me this season.
“With [senior quality control coach] Corey [Dennis] and the rest of the offensive coaching staff, I’m sure that he’ll still have his hand on the offense the way Lincoln Riley does at Oklahoma. I’m not really worried about that.”
There’s a time for that after New York.
For now, Haskins is free to focus solely on the Heisman and a completely different set of emotions.