Breaking down chances Ryan Day would have resumed play-calling duties without Chip Kelly

On3 imageby:Thomas Goldkamp02/12/24
Spencer Holbrook Full Interview with Andy Staples | Major Expectations in Columbus with Addition of Chip Kelly | 02.11.24

Ohio State made an incredibly quick move to hire UCLA head coach Chip Kelly following the departure of offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien for the Boston College head coaching job.

For a moment, many Ohio State fans wondered if Ryan Day might resume calling plays himself. The Kelly hire silenced those questions pretty quickly.

Even so, Day made some comments this week that indicated he was reluctant to give up play-calling and it’s one of his favorite aspects of the job. So how close was he to potentially going back to calling the plays himself?

“I think there’s a zero percent chance he was going to go back to it, but the fact that he said that he didn’t want to give it up, maybe we should have put that at maybe 1%, just because he was going to have to find somebody to do it, because he knows he can’t,” said Spencer Holbrook of Lettermen Row on the Andy Staples On3 show. “But if Chip Kelly said no it would have made it even a more reluctant Ryan Day when it comes to giving that up.”

Day is one of several college coaches who has only recently parted ways with play-calling duties in an attempt to focus his efforts on other things in the age of NIL and the transfer portal.

Still, the fact that he can be a good play-caller is a nice thing to have available.

“It was an option on the hot board, just because he said front and center on Wednesday, ‘I did not want to give this up,'” Holbrook explained. “He loves calling plays. I think that’s where he’s the most passionate, other than anything else in college football, is calling plays. But he understands that the job requires so much more than that.

“He’s getting pulled out of offensive meeting groups to go do other things now. He’s getting phone calls in the middle of offensive meetings. He said instead of thinking about third-and-4 from the 21-yard line, he’s thinking about so many other things. So he can’t call plays any more.”

That Day and Kelly have a pretty familiar background should certainly help the communication and collaboration between the two.

Andy Staples raised an interesting point to Holbrook, pointing out that Kelly made what many would view as a lateral or downward move to avoid doing some of the very same things that are forcing Day to step away from play-calling.

In a sense, the two should help complement each other to build a well-rounded unit.

“It is interesting, but remember where these two came from,” Holbrook said. “Chip Kelly coached for four season at Oregon when it was just college football in maybe the purest form that it could have possibly been there from I think 2009-12. You’re thinking about an era that we can’t even fathom any more.

“Ryan Day was almost born into this. 2019 the transfer portal opens right after his first year and he’s got to sort of hit the ground running with that. So for Chip, he’s seen all of this change over the years. For Ryan Day, he’s kind of been brought up with all of the change. So it is interesting.”

The bottom line: Ohio State got what could be a steal in an offensive coordinator, while also freeing up their head coach to focus more on other areas of the program.

“I love reading about Chip Kelly, because he is as much of just a pure football coach as you can get in today’s college football, whereas Ryan Day has kind of learned how to be a CEO more and more each year,” Holbrook said. “He’s given up more responsibility each year and this is the biggest step yet. It’s almost like a leap of faith for him. But yeah, Chip is definitely much more of that classic ball coach than Ryan Day is.”