In January, Urban Meyer gave Ryan Day a big bump in salary and a new title, moves that kept him so happy he reportedly turned down the Mississippi State head coaching position and the offensive coordinator position offered by the Tennessee Titans.

Now, sooner than he may have expected, Day is a head coach, stepping in as the Buckeyes’ interim coach with Meyer placed on paid leave amid an investigation into an alleged domestic abuse by a former assistant.

So just who is this 39-year-old who will, for now at least, take over one of the top college football programs in the country? Before coming to Ohio State, he coached in the NFL for two years and at Division I schools for 10 years. If you’re wondering which coaching tree to tie him to, look no further than that of UCLA’s Chip Kelly.

Day, who started in coaching in 2002 as tight ends coach at his alma mater (New Hampshire), came to Ohio State before the 2017 season, when Meyer hired him and Kevin Wilson, Indiana’s former head coach, to run the offense. Day had been a graduate assistant for Meyer at Florida in 2005 and was an assistant at Boston College and Temple.

Day coached NFL quarterbacks for Kelly during his days in Philadelphia (2015) and San Francisco (2016), but their roots go back farther. They attended the same Manchester, N.H., high school (years apart, obviously) and, when Day was a quarterback at New Hampshire, Kelly was the offensive coordinator. After graduation, Day coached tight ends under Kelly in 2002. The Manchester connection helped take Day to Florida under Meyer because Dan Mullen, the quarterbacks coach at the time and now the Florida head coach, happens to hail from the same community.

But it’s Kelly who may have influenced Day most. “Some of the things Chip has done in the past, and we have done in the past, in terms of the tempo and playing really fast, how we call things, that was a big part of the conversation,” Day said last fall, and Meyer credited him with Kelly-izing the offense.

“Ryan Day brought us that whole package to us,” Meyer said. “It’s been dynamic.”

Under Day, Ohio State’s passing game moved from 81st nationally to 36th. The Buckeyes averaged 262.8 passing yards last year, the most since Meyer became head coach in 2012.

Day drew the attention of incoming NFL coaches eager to put together their staffs and he was Titans Coach Mike Vrabel’s first choice as offensive coordinator, but Ohio State gave him a $600,000 raise, bumping his annual salary to $1 million in a three-year contract that includes a combined $850,000 in retention bonuses. Only defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is paid more on Meyer’s staff. Day also was no longer billed as a “co-offensive coordinator” with Kevin Wilson. Under Meyer, the school had two offensive coordinators, but Day had been expected to be the primary play caller.

Day and his wife, Christina, have three children.

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