Every Monday during the Ohio State football season, the head coach holds a press conference to reflect on the past game and look ahead to the next. This week, it’s solely about looking ahead to Oregon State with acting head coach Ryan Day and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano fielding questions.
And … it’s game week!
That’s right, with all the off-the-field news circulating around the program for the last month or so, there’s finally some respite to look forward to as we get ready for game one this Saturday against Oregon State to kick off the 2018 season.
We’ll bring you complete audio and video of the standing Monday press conference as they happen each week. And while it’s normally Urban Meyer standing behind the podium, this time it’s acting head coach Ryan Day and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to provide statements and answer media questions.
It’s really the first time in nearly a month there’s been real media availability, so the questions were plentiful and circulated mostly around the game of football.
So have a listen to the complete presser below thanks to the Ohio State Buckeyes official Twitter feed. Additionally, the full transcript of the presser is included below the video.
RYAN DAY: Good morning, everyone. I want to start off by saying that I understand there’s been a lot of pain and stress for a lot of people surrounding the last few weeks. And our program has been working hard, our coaches and team have been working hard during that time to get ready for the season, to prepare for the season and our first game against Oregon State. In our conversations what we have talked about is how adversity can reveal character. And if we are an average team, the adversity will crush us. If we’re a good team, then we can survive it. But if we’re a great team, then we can actually get better from it. And I can sit here and tell you over the past few weeks your team has gotten stronger. The team, the players and the coaches have gotten stronger. We were down a man. When we first met, the first team meeting, we talked about how everybody in the room has to step their game up, and they have, the leaders and the coaches. What this coaching staff has done here over the past few weeks has been remarkable. Greg Schiano, Kevin Wilson, what they have done for me during this time is something that I’ll always be in debt for, their counsel and what they have done for me has been really something I won’t forget.
Our coaches and our leaders of this program have driven the program for the last few weeks. Regarding the details of the investigation, I know everyone in here has a job to do, but I was not part of the investigation, I was not interviewed, so I have nothing to add. And so today I would like to talk about football and this team. Out of respect for everybody involved, I’m not going to speak today on the independent investigation, the report, or any speculation regarding it. And I hope everybody can respect that. It’s been awhile since Buckeye Nation has heard about their team and how the team’s taken shape and what’s going on with the group. And so I think that Buckeye Nation is excited to hear about that. So that’s what I would like to focus on today. Two of the things that’s been our motivation, one is the brotherhood, playing for the guy next to you, playing for the team. That when we’re in this meeting room we’re playing for the guys in this room. It’s been a big part of what we do. And the other one is because of the tradition of Ohio State. We wear the Scarlet and Gray, we take that serious. We know what that means to Buckeye Nation. We know that the people of Ohio State the blood runs thick with Scarlet and Gray. And so we work every day to make them proud and we can’t wait to get back in The Horseshoe this weekend and go win a game together. So with that, like to take any questions you guys may have.
Q. Ryan, just being the head coach, acting head coach, has that been a whirlwind? What’s that been like for you and from a football standpoint everybody wants to know about Dwayne Haskins, what kind of grasp of the offense does he have and how comfortable are you with him?
RYAN DAY: It has been a whirlwind. It has. But my goal in this thing was never to replace Coach, that’s not what I wanted to do. What I wanted to do is empower the coaches, empower the leaders and just keep this thing moving and I think we have done that. In terms of Dwayne, Dwayne’s done a great job. Along with a lot of other guys, his leadership had to step up and he’s done that. And so throughout practice he’s gotten stronger, especially from the spring and so as we prepare for this week he’s got to have a good week of practice as we go because he hasn’t started a game before and so that’s a big part of this thing between Billy at center and JT at quarterback there’s a lot of experience there that we have to replace.
Q. Being a first-time head coach going into a game here on Saturday, how much have you leaned on guys like Greg Schiano and Kevin Wilson to help you along?
RYAN DAY: A lot. A lot. I have so much respect for both of those guys and for the whole staff. This is an experienced staff. It’s got to be the best staff in America. When you think about Larry Johnson, Billy Davis, Alex Grinch, when you go through all the guys we have on our staff it’s amazing. A lot of experience. Real professionals. But like I said before, what Greg and Kevin have done for me is something that I won’t forget and their counsel has been amazing over this stretch and I’ve learned a lot from them, obviously they have been in my shoes before, and so it’s meant a lot.
Q. Following up on that you’re also the quarterbacks coach, you’re also the offensive coordinator, how have you balanced those responsibilities with the interim head coach responsibilities?
RYAN DAY: If you saw me at one of the scrimmages, I don’t know if you would have said I balanced it very well. I was trying to coach the quarterbacks, call the plays and organize the scrimmage and I looked like my hair was on fire. So it was a challenge, and there’s been times where I felt like I’ve been drinking through a fire hose, to be honest. And the expectation of Ohio State is you win every game and I understand that. So there’s that added pressure there that you feel. But every day it’s become more normal. The first few days it was a lot and then after the first week it became more normal and every day it becomes more normal and I think that the players understand that as well.
Q. Curious, how much, you talked about the rallying around and dealing with adversity from a players perspective. Has there been much conversation about what’s going on outside amongst players, coaches during camp or how have they dealt with that in terms of getting work done?
RYAN DAY: One of the things that we do here is we talk about win the moment. That’s our message to the kids. And what that means is that if we focus on the future, all it does is create anxiety, because there’s so many things we can’t control. If we focus on the past, then we just get frustrated. So what we do is we want to spend our energy on right now. I talk to those guys in the meeting and coaches talk about it in the meetings all the time about how if you waste your energy on the past or the future, you’re wasting your energy. You only have so much energy in the day. But I think the whole — the reason why it’s worked is because we have small unit cohesion here. What that means is we’ll have a quick message, I tried not to be in front of the team very much, but then what happens is the position coaches will get their groups together and then within those groups the message is the same. And then they understand that it’s not just this one big room, they have their position groups they have to pull for. And so I think those two things have helped us along the way and the players have done it.
Q. Follow-up, what are your emotions like going into Saturday as a head coach?
RYAN DAY: I’ve been taking it day by day. Honestly. Just like the players, win the moment. I’ve been trying to focus on today, and then tomorrow we’ll focus on tomorrow and then we just go from there. Because there is no script, so we just been working forward, yeah.
Q. In terms of logistics on Saturday and the following two games, I guess, are you going to be calling the plays from the sideline or how will that work?
RYAN DAY: So Kevin and I have always worked together on that, but, yes, I’ll be on the sideline and calling the plays with Kevin. And the whole offensive staff has input on all that, but that will be the plan.
Q. Going into training camp last time we talked to anybody Urban suggested that Dwayne wasn’t definitely the starter, that Tate could push him during training camp, so we didn’t have any daily updates on that. How did that play out? I assume he is the starter, but how close did Tate make it?
RYAN DAY: Tate made some great progress, he really did. Especially in the last two weeks he made a really big push. Dwayne will start on Saturday, he’s the starter. But the plan is to play Tate. How, when, or anything like that, we don’t know yet. But he’s been getting better. So the two of them really got the majority of the reps because Matthew still isn’t ready from his knee, and so all the reps that were had were really split in two. When Joe was here in the spring it was split into thirds, so the good news there was there was a lot of reps to learn from.
Q. Do you have to be careful with Tate at this point because of what you mentioned with Matthew and uncertainty with his health at this point, do you have to think about caution and make sure that your backup is ready if something happens to Dwayne?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, that’s a concern. That’s why we ended up bringing Chris in as well, to provide some depth for us there. So like always we like to keep four, five quarterbacks on the roster. So building depth there is a little concern. When we lost Joe that was a hit and we all knew that going in.
Q. Up until last week there was a lot of uncertainty about what was going to happen, who the head coach was going to be to start the season or whatever. Did you see any of that in the players? Did they, I mean, did you see cracks where they were talking about it or there was some kind of indication that they were living under this cloud?
RYAN DAY: Not until last Wednesday I think when on Wednesday when the press conference happened, it happened late at night and then we got them up early in the morning, 7 a.m. to have a team meeting. They looked a little tired there. I think it wore on them a little bit. But up until that point, no. Honestly. It was amazing, guys were flying around in practice, the energy was good, the coaches kept this thing going. And so I would say 98 percent of the time from when this started until right now it’s been great. Really, that’s attribute to the culture here. Our culture is strong. The culture leads at Ohio State. The culture that these leaders here not, only coaches, but leaders of the program, the kids, especially our captains, have set the example for is what’s driven this thing for the past few week.
Q. Talk about culture, I’m just curious you spent time in the NFL, how is that different, the oversight of players just general oversight in the NFL is a lot different than here. How have you enjoyed it and what’s been the challenge and what is the challenge between NFL and college?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think that when you’re in, when you’re in the NFL it’s a business, for sure. And sometimes guys come and go on a weekly basis. So sometimes it’s hard to grab on to those relationships. If you’re lucky enough to be at a place for several years you can build those relationships and I have several of those that I made in that short period of time. But that is a tough, tough league. A lot of guys get fired and hired and a lot of guys get cut and so that’s the part of it that’s hard. In college, first off, it’s more of a family environment. My son is here all the time, my family’s very much involved with that. So that’s the part that I really like. The other part is the recruiting and then you’re with guys for a long period of time. You’re with them through two years of recruiting and then you’re with them through graduation, so you start to build those relationships as you go. I think that that’s the bond that you share in college, it’s a little bit different than the NFL.
Q. As a follow-up, in the NFL it may be a positive maybe it’s a negative, you don’t have to keep track of every guy every minute. I would think that would be a little easier on you.
RYAN DAY: Well you’re dealing with men, you’re dealing with 20 something, sometimes 30 year old men who have families and kids. So that is a little bit different than dealing with a 17 or 18 year old kid, yeah, sure.
Q. You sort of stepped into the breach here, how useful do you think these skills that you’re learning on the job will be helpful down the road?
RYAN DAY: It’s kind of learning by getting thrown in the fire a little bit. One of the things that really helped me along the way was I got a text message and I get it just about every other day from one of my mentors Chip Kelly, and he says, you’re built for this. That’s what he told me. And that’s the thing I keep going to every morning when I wake up is that I’m built for this. Because there is no script, there’s no game plan, and again, my goal was never to make it about me or try to replace Coach, it’s all about the players and the coaches and empower them and that’s what my instinct has told me and so that’s what we’re going with.
Q. How, you’re the head coach, you’re the acting but you’re three games. So is this the Ryan Day game plan or has that already been handed down from Urban?
RYAN DAY: So when you go through the preseason that’s a time where you kind of find your personality a little bit as a team. So listen, the plan to win is never going to change. What we have done in the spring is really what we’re doing now. Are there a couple tweaks? Yes. But the culture’s the culture. It’s four to six, A to B, competitive excellence and the brotherhood. The plan to win has never changed. So that’s the culture here and the plan to win is always going to be here at Ohio State.
Q. Obviously this has been a tough time with the current team but recruiting it seems like you guys have weathered the storm pretty good, you only lost one commitment in two classes. What’s the response been like for you calling these kids during the time of uncertainty and then what’s the response been in the time since you have a solution to this?
RYAN DAY: I think any time you’re dealing with recruiting it goes back to relationships. The relationships that the coaches here have built is strong. Also the quality of the young men that we’re bringing in here and the culture of those kids is as strong as any place I’ve ever been and the support has been strong from those recruiting classes. I can’t get into specifics or people, but we have probably talked on a daily basis with all of the kids. The communication has been, hey, listen, you can ask questions, but we may not have he the answers to them, but ask the hard questions. So there’s been open communication with all of them and because of that they have all stuck together. I know that they all communicate with each other and so that’s been a positive.
Q. Switching gears to the team, kind of a tactical question about the offensive line. Was wondering when we saw the first few periods of few practices that Michael Jordan was repping at center, do you have an idea of how he’s going to be utilized? Is he going to be a center moving into the season?
RYAN DAY: He is. Yup.
Q. And do you have any updates on what the offensive line is going to look like?
RYAN DAY: So Mike is going to start at center as of right now. We have to still go through the week but coming out of preseason camp he is the starting center. Demetrius Knox will be at right guard. Malcolm Pridgeon will be at left guard. Isaiah Prince will be at right tackle. And then Thayer Munford and Josh Alabi will still be working through the week to see who plays there, they’re still working through that. Thayer has had a few nagging injuries, Josh has been working over at left tackle, so they will kind of split the reps this week as we go into Saturday.
Q. Going into this season or it seemed like Brady Taylor was going to be in line for that job. Can you just give me some of the reasoning behind making that move. Is it just trying to get five best offensive linemen on the field, most athleticism, what went behind just the idea of playing around him?
RYAN DAY: Brady brings versatility. He’s been playing some guard, playing some center. So we plan on him playing as well. I think that Mike brings some experience and any time you have to replace someone like Billy Prince there’s a lot that goes into that. So it’s still a work in progress this is not something that we have made a decision on for the season. So Brady did have a couple nagging injuries along the way too that he’s working through. But our plan is that Brady is going to play as well along the way.
Q. I think there are some people that would see referring to this only as football adversity as minimizing a serious issue. Have you used this at all to talk to the team about their core values in respecting women?
RYAN DAY: So our core values here are talked about on a daily basis and I can’t imagine there’s one day that goes by where we don’t talk about our core values. And one of them is the respect for women. And so we talk about that all the time. We talk about how especially in this time period all of our guys are in a fish bowl and so they have to be really careful too who they are with and where they spend their time. So yes, that’s addressed consistently with our guys.
Q. Have you seen any issues with Urban Meyer’s coaching memory has affected his coaching at all during your time here?
RYAN DAY: No, I haven’t.
Q. When they asked you to take over as acting head coach, considering you’ve never been a head coach, Greg Schiano has, Kevin Wilson has, how surprised were you?
RYAN DAY: I was very surprised. It did catch me off guard. It was one of those things where you just wake up the next day and you think, is this really happening? And then you just kind of put one foot in front other. I don’t think anyone could have expected any of this.
Q. And one more about Haskins. JT was obviously an unquestioned leader. We know that Haskins has the arm. What have you seen from him in terms of the intangibles that lead you to believe that he can be successful in all aspects of being a quarterback?
RYAN DAY: He’s very talented. He’s worked hard in the off-season to change his body. That’s something that Mickey Marotti has done an unbelievable job of. And I probably — well I know I did — I didn’t do enough justice to what Mickey Marotti’s meant to this program during this time. Mickey is the heart and sole of this program. And what he’s done for everyone here during this time is amazing. He has the pulse on this team, he works with these guys in the summer, and he is the guy behind the scenes that keeps this thing together. He is the glue. And so I digressed a little bit right there, but I just want to make sure I hit that, because he is a huge part of this program. He has built a culture and he is really important to everyone here. But going back to Dwayne, Dwayne again has a lot of talent, he’s very talented throwing the football. He’s worked on his athleticism, strength, power. So you saw at the end of the season last year when he had to step into a role, he stepped right in there and he was ready to go. But now being a starter, that’s different. You have to prepare different, you have to be ready. Teams have film on you and they start to see some of your tendencies. So it’s going to be a week to week process as we get going. He has never started a game. So it will be a work in progress, but we’re very happy with where he’s at.
Q. Brian Hartline has taken over as wide receivers coach, could you elaborate on what he has done, how he has adjusted to that role.
RYAN DAY: Brian’s again, on short notice, has stepped in and brought a lot of energy. He’s got great experience. He’s sat in their seats. He’s played wide receiver at Ohio State, he’s played in the NFL, so he has great experience that he can obviously relay to those guys. But he’s done a great job so far.
Q. When you were first named — and I don’t ask this implying that it was right or wrong — but there were two other guys that had head coaching experience on the staff, how did those conversations go with Kevin and Greg about how you guys were going to work things out and were they surprised maybe that one of them wasn’t chosen?
RYAN DAY: Like I said they have been unbelievable and it’s all about been about support and how do we get through this thing together. Because there were times along the way we didn’t know what tomorrow was going to bring. So it was all about what can we do for the team, how can we get this thing moving forward to have a successful season, because at the end of the day we need to put a good product out on the field on Saturday and so that’s what the focus has been.
Q. And general health standpoint is there anybody who won’t be available for the game on Saturday?
RYAN DAY: So we have been very healthy. We have been very healthy. There’s a couple guys in there that we’re going to monitor through the week, but as of right now there’s a chance everybody on the team could play. And that’s again a tribute to Mickey Marotti and the strength coaching.
Q. You mentioned that you guys added Chris at quarterback, I would assume that he’s on scholarship and if he is it seems like you might have to make a move there. Is there any change to the roster to bring Chris in?
RYAN DAY: No, we’re at 85 with Chris.
Q. You’re at 85 with Chris?
RYAN DAY: Yes.
Q. So somebody’s not then.
RYAN DAY: We’re at 85 with Chris, yeah.
Q. Ryan, how much — we know a head coach sets the culture, sets the structure of a program, obviously. But when all that’s in place, how much does a head coach matter on game day on Saturday?
RYAN DAY: Well, it’s like anything else, I think some of the best coaching is done during the week. The decisions that are made during the week in terms of strategy and what you’re doing on the field, I think that the stuff that’s done in the off-season in terms of finishing and toughness and willing to go out there in the fourth quarter and go win a game, that stuff is done in the off-season. So I think so much of it has to do with leading up to the game. During the game, obviously the motivation before the game, the sometimes the in-game decisions are important, but I think so much of it has to do with what you do leading up to the game and the decisions that are made mid week.
Q. And when you get in the game, if it’s fourth and two from mid field, how will you balance what Ryan Day wants to do in that moment versus what Urban Meyer would do in that moment if he was on the sideline right now?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, three-way decision making. When we’re in those situations I’ll refer with Kevin and Greg and we’ll make the best decision based on the situation, the time, and just try to do what’s best to give the team a chance to win.
Q. And the receiver group we know traditionally Ohio State has rotated a lot of receivers. Who stood out, how do you, you have 10 guys who could play, I don’t think you can play 10 receivers realistically, who is going to play and how is that going to work?
RYAN DAY: They’re all going to play. And we have a great depth there, which I think makes us really strong because when you have receivers who can roll in and out of plays, that keeps them fresh. And think about we have three captains in the wide receiver group alone. A lot of leadership there. But along the way guys get injured too, so you need depth, but the plan is early on to play everybody. Rotate them, get them in the game, play fast and go.
Q. Is KJ Hill just an H back slot guy or can he play outside too?
RYAN DAY: He mostly plays inside. If we needed him out side we could use him, but he’s mostly an inside guy.
Q. Do you expect Demario McCall will have a role in there or is he below some other guys?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, you look at what he’s done, he’s spent time now at receiver. Before he was kind playing a little running back along the way in his career and then to get moved to wide receiver, so now that he’s spent most of his time at wide receiver he’s improved a lot. How much he’s going to play, we’ll see throughout the week.
Q. Who actually called you and told you you were the acting head coach?
RYAN DAY: Gene Smith.
Q. Gene Smith. And what did he tell you? What was his message to you?
RYAN DAY: Well, it’s just that I was going to be the acting head coach until we had more information about coach and the situation and that just to trust my instinct along the way.
Q. What is the biggest thing that you learned about being a head coach? That one thing that right now you didn’t appreciate, three, four weeks ago?
RYAN DAY: You do look at things a little bit differently. You notice things different, you notice the whole picture as opposed to just your position group or maybe your unit. You look at the whole picture. You look at how people walk, how they talk, how they look. Do they look tired, do they look awake, do they look rested or not. So just the view of everybody now their perspective is a little bit wider.
Q. What is the biggest decision that you had to help make personnel-wise during this preseason camp? Was it Michael Jordan going with him at center, comitting to that, what just stands out in your mind as the biggest decision you were in on?
RYAN DAY: I think that obviously moving Mike to center was a big decision for all of us on the offensive staff and it wasn’t just me, it was everybody. Everything along the way has been a group effort. So talking to Greg about what he thinks about the offensive line on a daily basis and then making that move is probably the biggest one, yeah.
Q. Back in 1999 or 2000, when were you named starting quarterback for New Hampshire? I’m trying to remember what year it was.
RYAN DAY: That was ’99.
Q. What do you remember about that moment? What do you remember about the, I don’t know, butterflies, anxiety, whatever you want to call it when you’re going into your first game as a starter? What stood, stands out to this day about that moment?
RYAN DAY: Well I remember it was Chip’s first time being an offensive coordinator and he called a double reverse pass. So that’s what I remember. And then we went on to win and we were playing at Rhode Island.
Q. The responsibility of being —
RYAN DAY: I know what you’re asking. Again, it goes back to just trust your instincts. And the whole idea that you’ve been working your whole life to be in situations, be the starting quarterback. And that you can over think things, but in the end have confidence in who you are.
Q. Obviously, you’ve expressed that thought to Dwayne?
RYAN DAY: I have. Yeah. I have.
Q. How often?
RYAN DAY: The thing we talk about with Dwayne is he doesn’t have to be JT, he doesn’t have to be Braxton, he doesn’t have to be Cardale. All the quarterbacks, they have to be themselves. So whether it was when we were in Philly talking to Sam Bradford or when we were in Boston college talking to Matt Ryan or whoever, along the way, you have to find your own way to lead. You have to find your own way. Now there are a lot of things that leaders have in common and we share those and talk about those. But along the way you have to find your own way and that’s been the message.
Q. One last question, y’all are opening with Oregon State. I don’t think you’ve been asked about them. Brand new coaching staff they brought in and stuff. What do you know about Oregon State or are you did you spend a lot of time looking at Washington and while obviously you’re on offense, but defensively Colorado, but just in a nutshell what’s your take on Oregon State?
RYAN DAY: Right, so Jonathan comes over and obviously has had a great career and he’s going to come in with a lot of energy. They made the move to go to a defensive front with Tim Tibesar coming over from Wisconsin. So he was a linebacker coach last year and obviously they have a great system. So they’re going to be instituting that Wisconsin system of some three down, some four down, and they’re very, very aggressive and obviously been one of the best defenses in the country year and year out. So.
Q. Interesting you and Jonathan are both 39 years old.
RYAN DAY: I did see that when I was reading up on it. Yeah.
Q. How different is this team with you running it, in that you are trying to avoid disruption or trying to establish some continuity with what Urban Meyer was doing, as opposed to if this was your team?
RYAN DAY: I haven’t thought of it like that, because my goal is just to keep this thing going. I think if, when you come out to practice, you would see that the team is running just like if Coach was here. We have kept everything intact and so that’s been the goal along the way.
Q. Saturday will be your first game as a head coach, I’m wondering who is going to be there for you from your family and whatnot.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, my family will be here. We tried not to make it too crazy and have everybody come in because, again, this isn’t one of those things where I’m becoming the head coach. This is just something that I’m holding the place for Coach until he gets back and the goal is to win the game against Oregon State.
Q. Brandon Bowen was a guy that started last year, Brandon Bowen and looked like he was playing pretty well through the first half of the season and then got injured. Is he still banged up and not ready to go this year?
RYAN DAY: He has been dealing with that leg injury and coming back from it has been a little bit slower than he’s liked. But he’s still working through that now. But he has missed some time and so I know he’s been frustrated with that, but it’s a long road to recovery with the injury that he had.
Q. When do you expect to have him back?
RYAN DAY: I don’t know right now.
Q. You mentioned earlier Dwayne Haskins needed to change his body. Can you elaborate on that? Did he need to lose some weight, just why did he need to change his body?
RYAN DAY: You can ask Mick that, but obviously the body fat and his composition, his strength, his power, as a quarterback you have to have some size, you have to have some mass back there. When you look at the great quarterbacks they’re big. The guys who are frail and skinny, they don’t make it. It’s one of the greatest things about JT was how durable he was during all that time. So it isn’t just putting on fat, it’s putting on muscle and mass, so that when you’re in there you can take some of the shots and still play throughout a season.
Q. Greg, last year you were in a position you almost became a head coach. I was just wondering, from your standpoint, when they’re making a decision to have an interim head coach you seemed like the logical decision just from the outside. What was your take on the decision making and did you feel as if this was an opportunity for you to step in here?
GREG SCHIANO: Well, whenever you have a situation like this it’s very complex. But when you have leaders like Gene Smith and President Drake, they understand this institution better than anyone. They understand what’s needed at the time. So what we have done as a staff I think is what’s special. Ryan is certainly qualified to do this. Kevin Wilson, myself and the rest of the staff, guys like Larry Johnson, have done this a long time. We all said we have to step it up. We’re missing our leader, we’re one down right now, and I think the staff has done that and I think in turn the players have followed our lead. We have some great leadership and all that combined I think is what’s going to allow us to be successful. So I’m looking forward to going out and coaching football again in a game. It’s been awhile. This has certainly been something that as much as we have worked to stay focused, when it’s people you care about, it’s hard.
Q. When something’s happening at Tennessee we asked you about that and you said there would be a time to talk about it. I was wondering is this the time where you’re willing to discuss that and how it went, how it impacted you and do you feel as if that situation down at Tennessee has impacted your future in any way?
GREG SCHIANO: Well, certainly things like that are, those are tough to stop make. About now isn’t the time to talk about it. There will be. There will be a time. But now’s not the time.
Q. How has the scheme changed with Alex Grinch in the secondary?
GREG SCHIANO: Well first off we’re really blessed to have him here. He’s a tremendous coach, he’s a guy that brings great energy to our staff and he’s a man that’s led a defense, a very successful defense. So he’s a great addition. He has certainly brought some fine ideas. When you put a defensive package together there’s a couple things you have to take into account. You have your philosophy as a program, so it has to fit into the philosophy of the program. Then you have to look at your personnel and say well how can we, with the personnel we have, carry out the vision of the head football coach. And as one side of the ball, that’s our job. And Alex has been a huge part of every year you recreate it because your personnel changes.
Q. Could you go through some of the position battles on defense. Who is going to lined up at linebacker, who is going to be the safety opposite Jordan Fuller?
GREG SCHIANO: Gladly. One the things about our linebacker group because you mentioned that first, we feel really fortunate that we have great depth. Now what’s happened in the competition in the spring and then into training camp, the guys that will start the game are going to be Pete Werner, Baron Browning and Malik Harrison. From there I think more people will play. Now generally we have not done that, right, we have rotated the defensive line, we haven’t done that at the linebacker position. I’m not sure we’re going to do that full scale like we did with the D-line every game but we’re going to see more people play. I think two guys that are coming off surgeries, Tuf Borland and Dante Booker, those guys as they get to be more and more game ready, they’re going to need some reps. So it’s an interesting situation at that position but one we’re excited about. It’s not one — sometimes they say, well if you don’t have your starters in you don’t have starters. I don’t agree. I think we have more than three starting quality linebackers, so we’re going to play the guys that we think — the other thing you do is packages. So you try to utilize the talents of your guys. So we have different packages in different situational football that will allow certain guys to get on the field.
Q. What enabled Werner to become a starter?
GREG SCHIANO: Well, I tell you he’s made a quite an ascension, right? You saw him kind of grow up on the special teams last year. And that’s the history and tradition of this program that’s how it’s been. Guys have made their name on special teams and then continued that ascension and he did just that. He had a great spring, he really, really worked hard to change his body, to mature his body and he’s a much bigger man now than he was as a freshman and I think with every rep he gains valuable experience. He’s getting better and better and better and better. So his arrow is certainly pointed up.
Q. To stick with those linebackers, when did y’all expect Tuf Borland to be back? We saw him participate just in those two open practices, it seemed like he might miss the whole season, but when do you think he might be back now?
GREG SCHIANO: He may be back this week. It’s amazing the way he has rehabbed. The job that our people in the training room our medical people have handled him, the way Coach Mick has handled him and more important than any of that is the way that Tuf is such a committed young man to what he’s doing. And he’s made incredible progress. As a coach and as a father I kind of am hesitant, because that’s a serious injury, as you know. But you have to trust the medical people and if they say he can go — so we’ll see by the end of the week we’ll figure out what he can and can’t do or what he should or shouldn’t do. But he’s ahead of schedule, well ahead of schedule.
Q. Dating back to the spring, you guys said the other safety spot was the biggest concern maybe on the whole team. Is that still the case for you or are you uncertain going into week one has Isaiah claimed that job, where do you sit there opposite Jordan Fuller?
GREG SCHIANO: I think it’s been a great competition which has raised both Isaiah and Jordan’s game. They’re both going to play. And if you remember last year when we started the season with Jordan and Eric, right, they both played and then Jordan pulled away and became the starter and became a really fine starter as we know. So I don’t know if that will happen or if all season long those guys will go back and forth. But whatever happens, I’ve said this to you guys before, you can’t make it happen, you got to let it happen. Now you encourage and you coach and you teach, but at the end of the day they have to go out there and play their way into a position.
Q. There have been so much stuff going on around the program, I’m just wondering from your perspective the guys during training camp were you able to block out the outside stuff. What was your take on the kind of cam you had given the situations that you dealt with?
GREG SCHIANO: I thought we had an outstanding camp. I really do. And it’s a testament to those players, our leadership first, and the whole squad. Having said that, certainly to block it out would be, that would be not true. I mean the guys have done their best to stay focused on the task at hand and one of the things we talk about all the time around here is keep the main thing the main thing. Stick to what we are here to do. You can’t do anything about some of those other things that are happening outside right now, but what you can do is really grow as a team and grow as a player. College football’s a little different, right? Training camp is the only time that we have their undivided attention. It’s the only time — all year long they have academics, they have different social things going on. So training camp, they’re ours. And it’s critical, that’s where your team is forged. That’s where you persona ility of your team comes, your leadership. So it’s not like you can do a do over. It happens once, you have those three weeks and it has to happen. And I thought Ryan Day did an incredible job. Stepping into that role, unbelievable. I think our coaching staff did and most importantly as I said our players.
Q. The events of the last whatever four, six weeks have sort of brought to light this idea of what are the responsibilities of a college coach. You’ve lived it, Rutgers, you were the head guy, and yet you were also in the NFL. Can you sort of share the nuances of really what the differences are there from a, you have to, you’re over entire program versus just football.
GREG SCHIANO: Well as a college head football coach you are. You’re responsible for a lot of things, a lot of people. And that’s what you signed up for. That’s part of the job that I really enjoy, is that you touch so much different people and you’re able to help so much different people grow. But there’s a great responsibility that comes with that. In the National Football League it’s a little different in that there’s a general manager that has control of and responsibility for some things, you as the head coach have responsibility for some other things. And then just the fact that you’re dealing with grown men. Some in their 20s, some into their 30s. When I first started coaching in the NFL, my first stint, I was 29 years old and I was coaching people that were older than I. So it is, it’s definitely different. The relationships you bond in college with the players is different because they’re developing as young men. It’s incredible to see when you recruit a guy as a 15 or 16 year old and then you see he him graduate as a 21, 22 year old, it’s like your own kids. I’m going through that now with my own children, that’s the age group that mine are. And you just see it by the day how they change and how they mature and that’s the thing that brought me back to college football, quite frankly, and the part I love most about it.
Q. Follow-up, which job is more stressful ultimately?
GREG SCHIANO: You know what I say is in college football it’s a life-style. So your family has — the NFL is, this is the way I put it to people — six months of the year you work a normal job. So you go in, 7:30, 8 and you get home from dinner. College football that’s not the case. College football your family better be part of it because there’s not enough time to do both. There’s recruiting, spring football, recruiting weekends, so and, you know, I heard Ryan say something about having his son around here. That’s what I always tried to do. Because I know you can’t have two things going. You have to make it one. Otherwise it’s hard to do justice to either.
Q. Urban always kind of down played his role in the defense. So are you guys, how are you defensively feeling his absence if at all?
GREG SCHIANO: Well, I think first of all Coach kind of does that to be humble. He’s involved in every facet of this program. But I think defensively probably less than offensively because that’s where his specialty is. I think the biggest thing you miss is his leadership, the inspiration, the things he provides, not only the players but the coaches. And I always felt my one of my biggest jobs as a head coach was to coach the coaches. Because then that is exponential. That can spread throughout the team. Coach the coaches and really help the leaders lead. And the leaders meaning the players.
Q. Ryan was very complimentary to the assistance you’ve given him. What do you feel like is the most valuable thing that, most valuable insight that you’ve been able to provide him throughout this whole thing?
GREG SCHIANO: Well, we have talked a lot. Ryan’s only been here a year and I’ve only been here going on my third year, so I didn’t know Ryan before he came. We have gotten, I would say, in the last 30 days a lot closer. And that’s been neat because he’s a special guy, he’s got a bright, bright future. Probably be himself. We have a program here and as Ryan has told our staff and told our players, he’s holding the spot until Coach gets back. So we have a program, we have a philosophy, we have core values, we’re sticking to the plan. But within the plan there’s daily decisions that must be made and I told Ryan, listen, hear me out, hear Kevin out, but at the end of the day you have to do what you feel comfortable with, because your name now is in front of that program.
Q. What is the biggest mistake you made in your first game as a head coach that still sticks with you? Do you remember?
GREG SCHIANO: Oh, I remember it very clearly. We were at the University of Buffalo, which was a monster crowd as you can imagine, right? Rutgers, Buffalo. We hadn’t won forever. And I’m so excited to go coach the game and I’m going to lead the team on to the field and I’m standing in the tunnel waiting for them to say go ahead and I had noticed that I don’t have my call sheet or my game plan with me. So now an experienced head coach would call the assistant over and say, hey, do me a favor, go get the game plan in the locker room. But not having that experience what did I do? I worked my way through the crowd, through the players, got it, sprinted up and just as I got back we were able to take the field on time. But that’s what I remember, thankfully things calmed down a little and we won that game. But, yeah, that’s my recollection.
Q. Was there a sense though going into that, that there were going to be decisions you have to make like that as the head coach during the game, I mean, how do you prepare for that as opposed to just worrying about the defense or the offense?
GREG SCHIANO: I think certain guys from the minute they get into this thing are preparing to be a head coach. And that’s just the way they’re wired. And I think other guys are really great assistant coaches and maybe some day they become head coaches or maybe they don’t. From the day I started coaching I knew I wanted to be a head coach. And I worked for some tremendous legendary head coaches both in high school and in it college and in the NFL. And I constantly was studying them and my high school coach Mike Miello, who started me in this profession he told me, you’re going to go on and you’re going to work for several people, don’t only write down the good things, but write down the things you wouldn’t do. So I took that advice very seriously and was preparing the whole time.
Q. As you got ready for Oregon State obviously Jonathan Smith has come from Washington that whole idea that they have plays, they don’t have a scheme, things like that. But I don’t know, is this an open book almost or have you studied a lot of Washington, a lot of Colorado, just how have you gotten ready defensively for this opener?
GREG SCHIANO: Well we studied both. We are, we would like to think that we have a system that can adapt within the game. And that’s something that we’re, we constantly talk to our players about is we’ll go in with a blueprint but we’re not married to anything because we have a menu we can use certain things. If they change, we can change. I get a kick sometimes of the defensive coaches who say, I don’t care what they do, we dictate. And that’s not true. They line up in a formation, we don’t tell them how to line up and then we have to react to that. So it starts with that and it obviously goes much deeper, but I think that in games like this, new head coach, offensive head coach, has an offensive coordinator, so you really have to spend some double time studying both, but not marrying yourself to either. Because you may get a third you may get a hybrid of both.
Q. Was there a moment in camp when it dawned on that you Ryan was up to this task? Because like you said, he hasn’t been named the head coach, he’s filling a chair for now, but was there a moment when you just, you watched him and how he handled something and went, okay, he’s doing all right? I mean, do you remember any kind of moment like that or day or?
GREG SCHIANO: I think it was the third — I got that. I think it was the third day that he spoke with the team. I just said, that’s, that’s Ryan. The first two days he was trying to do the organizational perfunctory things and then when he spoke to the team he spoke from his heart that third day and from then on that’s the way he’s been running the football team. And I would be remiss, I’m so impressed, just working underneath and observing him and trying to help him, that, I mean, he’s got the “it”, when you work on the other side of the ball, you really don’t get to sit in the room with him very much and game plan and do all that stuff. So our relationship was more friend’s than professional pause we don’t do a lot together professionally. Observing him over the last whatever it is, 25 days, he’s got the “it”.
Q. In the linebacker room among the other guys in that fight like Keandre Jones, Justin Hilliard, are they still in that mix just maybe a step below those other guys or how do they fit in?
GREG SCHIANO: They really are. When I said we have tremendous depth I didn’t mention every guy, but they are in the mix. Justin Hilliard has just been a tremendous story for me. I love the kid. The way he has come back from injury and really worked himself into being a guy that we are very comfortable putting out on the field. And he’s probably one of our top, I don’t know, two or three special teams players on the entire team. So he will play a ton of downs whether they’re defense or special teams, but he is ready to play defense. And then Keandre Jones there may not be a harder working guy on our football team. And he’s battled through some things, he’s one of the toughest guys. And I know he has not been a hundred percent and he’s been going out — I think he’s going close now and I’m anxious to be able to see him practice for a couple weeks where he’s a hundred percent and he’s going without having to avoid some different things. But he’ll play a lot as well. So we are going to play — the young guys might not get in the game, the newcomers, but they’re very, very exciting to look at as well. They’re really good players. So that room has, I think it’s got a bright future that room.
Q. And is Werner or Browning the middle linebacker?
GREG SCHIANO: Baron is the middle linebacker.
Q. The corner back situation, are there two starters and then backups, are there going to be three guys or four guys all rotating equally, how will that work out?
GREG SCHIANO: We’ll stick to the three-man rotation that we developed here a few years ago. I think the way we play, we play press coverage almost every down and not only is it physically tiring, but it’s mentally. Every down you this could be the one he’s going deep, right? So, and those guys have done a great job. Kendall, Damon Arnette, and Jeff Okudah will be the three rotating and we feel like we have at least three starters in that room. Again, that’s a room that I’m getting more and more excited about every day because we have some youth at the position as well that is getting better. And at this place you better, because those corners tend to leave early. That’s kind of been the formula around here. So we have to keep bringing those young guys up quickly and they are doing that. So that’s good.
Q. Defensive end will Nick Bosa and Chase Young get more snaps than the other guys? We know there was the big rotation last year, how will you guys work that out when you have especially a guy like Bosa who is an All-American?
GREG SCHIANO: Well Nick will certainly get his share. You have to. He’s a dominant football player. But Chase is an excellent player. Jonathan Cooper. I think those three will rotate and then from there we’ll see Jashon Cornell, and whoever else may get in the game at defensive end, but excited about that group. They’re really, they have a chance to be special.
Q. And then just big picture, how much of, if you had to break it down, how much of being a head coach really is during the week practice, training camp, game plan, culture, leadership, versus how much is the three hours on Saturday making decisions, making in-game adjustments? We know Urban’s not going to be here for three games, I’m just trying to get a feel for how much he’ll be missed on those Saturdays versus how much you miss the head coach with everything else in a program.
GREG SCHIANO: That’s an interesting question because certainly when you’re a head coach you chart the vision of the program. And that’s the number one thing. And then you help, you inspire and you equip people to carry out that vision. So that’s a big, big job. But you can’t underscore game day either. Because you work, you do all that for those 12 Saturdays and hopefully then the 13th, 14th and 15th. So I do think that decisions on game day are critical because all that work goes into it and it can come down to that one fourth and one. Or that do we throw it or run it or do we blitz or lay back. So that can’t be underscored either. So I think it’s a combination and I think with when you talk generically about head coaches it’s different. Some guys are very involved in the game day decisions, some guys are kind of hands off and only make one or two big decisions a game. Other guys are very involved. So it depends what kind of head coach you are and we’ll miss him in both.
Q. What was Urban?
GREG SCHIANO: He’s not — he lets people do their job, but he has an opinion and he discusses it with you. I think he’s very reasonable about how he handles decision making on game day. A lot of them are made before we ever get to that stadium, but there’s always one — people say, well you make them all before. You can’t. Things come up. But what he does is he’s able to stay in the moment and that’s what we preach to our team, win the moment. He’s able to stay in the moment and talk to his assistants and then make the final decision.
Q. Are you guys comfortable with Baron playing middle linebacker and outside and what does a healthy Tuf Borland mean for Baron when he’s in that mix. I know you’re going to rotate but Baron just seems like a guy that needs to be on field in some capacity. What might, how might his role which I think when Tuf comes back?
GREG SCHIANO: You know what, we’re not going to deal with that right now. I think we got to just make sure that Baron’s ready to go at the middle this week. Baron’s a talented guy. He can play any of the three. But it’s not as easy as just say, oh, jump over there and play. There’s different jobs, assignments, rules. So what we have done though is we have trained him in both positions at different times. So I think he has a background in both. But right now it’s all about one game, Oregon State and Baron will be in the middle.
Q. Ryan was saying he’s going to call plays from the sideline. I don’t think he’s done that here, I don’t know if he’s done it before. You obviously have extensive experience on the other side of the ball, obviously, but how much do you anticipate you’ll be helping him on sideline just in sort of that kind of things, communicating with the officials, just like the normal things that a head coach has to do on the sideline that are going to be unfamiliar to him?
GREG SCHIANO: I think I’ll do pretty much the same way I did with Coach Meyer. We were constantly in communication, he and I. If there was, you know, no-brainer penalties, we never talked about, but if there’s things that there was things to weigh and what would be — we always talked about it, how did it affect the defense, how did it affect the offense. So we would have a three- or four-way conversation going. But again it’s the head coach’s job to make the final decision. You can take the information, and often times you have to take that information and make a decision in about 12 seconds, right. It’s not like you have an hour to think about it. So that’s what Ryan will do and that’s where I’m here to help him, that’s where Kevin’s here to help him and our whole staff is.
Q. I know Taver spent the spring with you guys, but that seems to be a very interesting coaching change there going from a high energy guy like Kerry to, what’s the energy difference between him and Taver, does Taver have different techniques that he teaches than Coach Coombs or how do those guys differ I guess in a spot where you got to replace three starters yet again for the second straight year?
GREG SCHIANO: That seems to be the — replace the starters has kind of been the theme. But if you have ever seen — I know you haven’t had an a chance to see a lot of him here, but if you ever see him at the end of practice, Taver Johnson has sweated through his gear from head to toe. That guy runs around the field. So the energy that’s provided is off the charts. Now we know, I don’t know if anyone can ever hit Coach Coombs’ level of energy, right? That’s a caffeine 2.0, but Taver’s, he’s right there. Technique-wise, there’s certain things — every coach has a comfort zone that they like to deal in. And just like we talked about earlier with Alex, Taver has brought some ideas into our defensive staff. And that’s why change, although it’s sad to lose buddies and lose the chemistry that you have, change is good. And as a head coach I never was scared of that when guys moved on to different jobs because you bring new people in, they bring new ideas in. The only thing had a has to happen is it has to fit into the philosophy of the program that you’re joining. And we always gain good ideas and good techniques and motivational things and Taver’s provided that, just as Alex has.
Q. In the 26 days since Urban was placed under administrative leave have you or any of the other coaching staff had any chance to interact with him at all whether you reaching out to him or he reach out to you and what have those interactions been like?
GREG SCHIANO: Well Urban is, before he’s my boss, he’s a friend. I’ve known him for over 20 years. So when I was allowed to, I did communicate. And that’s personal. It wasn’t about football. It was about him. Because I was worried about him. I’ll leave it at that.
Q. Sometimes adversity brings a football team closer. Have you seen any of that and what do you expect to see on Saturday?
GREG SCHIANO: I think you’re right on that. I think we have all seen that in all different walks of life. But I think what it did in this instance is our leadership, which was really good, I think they would have — if Coach Meyer was here, they would have led in a very, very good way. But I think they really stepped it up. You’re sitting where Johnnie Dixon sits in special teams and I can just picture Johnnie and Terry and Parris, I mean you’re talking about three great leaders. And they acted like grown men. And I mean grown men, not only holding others accountable, but teaching younger guys. I’m sure they would have done it to a degree anyway, but I think that, like Ryan has talked to all of us about, we all had to step up our game a little bit and I think our leadership has done that and I think that’s the adversity has brought that out.
Q. Have you ever been on a team where three receivers were captains? Because you often think of receivers as those guys out on the edge so to speak?
GREG SCHIANO: No, I’ve never been. You’re right. No, often times the further you get away from the ball, you’re right, they’re on the edge is a good way to put it. They’re out there. I don’t know if you meant it that way, but they’re out there, they’re out there on the edge and they don’t deal with the others very much, they deal with themselves and they deal — so it is unique but I think it’s a testament to the work ethic those guys provide year round. You talk to Mick, they’re unbelievable the way they train, the way they carry themselves, and well deserved. I think our captains really are — we have seven great captains. I think we have — that’s not the end of the leadership on this team, we have a lot of other guys on the team that are great leaders as well.
Q. Quick clarity on Tuf Borland’s injury. It was a torn Achilles, is that correct, in the spring? And do you hope — go ahead.
GREG SCHIANO: I don’t know, I don’t know if we do that here. I’ve been different places where I am allowed to say it, I’m not allowed to say it.
THE MODERATOR: It’s a lower ankle injury but whatever was reported in the spring, we’ll go with that.
Q. Urban called it an Achilles injury, I didn’t know if it was a torn Achilles. You expect, with Tuf’s injury, you expected to have him back you said maybe as early as this week or maybe some time this month?
GREG SCHIANO: As early as this week. Yeah, I think — one of the hardest things is going to be hold him back. If you know Tuf at all, he is a laser-focused guy. And he’s put that laser focus on his recovery and getting ready to play. We’re going to be smart though.
Q. The change in the freshman rule to allow the guys to play up to four games and still keep their red shirt. How much does that kind of factor into your thinking going into these first couple games. And if you can, on your side of the ball, do you have three, four five freshmen who you are pretty positive are going to play in this game. True freshmen.
GREG SCHIANO: I think the rule that you’re mentioning, I don’t know if everybody’s aware, you can play in four games at any time in the season and still maintain your eligibility to have another year. And that’s a huge change. I think there’s a lot of strategic thinking that should go into it. I’m not sure everywhere that’s happening, but it is here. Because what happens often times at the end of the year is you get into a situation game eight, nine, 10, or 11, 12, 13, or 14, 15, where you could really use guys, number one, from a health standpoint, and number two, they’re a totally different player than when they showed up in June as a freshman. Totally different player. When they have gone through a summer of training, a training camp, and all those practices in preparation, they actually are ready by that time to make a big contribution. So strategically some do you play early and some do you wait and see and save in the fact that you might need them down the stretch and they could actually have a huge impact on your success down the stretch. So there’s a lot of strategy involved. And the second part of your question?
Q. Three or four names of guys, maybe guys who lost a stripe early or whoever, that — who are maybe four or five true freshmen you have a good idea are going to play?
GREG SCHIANO: Well, I think that — I always hate to do that, you know, and I know some coaches do that. I think there’s so much pressure on freshmen already and at a place like Ohio State there’s even more pressure. Because these are four and five star players that everybody expects them to instantly be great players and it’s not that easy all the time. But you will see some freshmen out there playing on special teams. You’ll also see some that are getting rolled in on the defensive line. I think there’s some guys tear Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday could see some time in there. Tommy Togiai could see some time. I hate to leave anybody out. But they could. I just think that you got to let freshmen develop and that’s what we try to do here. We push them to develop them as fast as we did can, but we don’t want to rush them.
GREG SCHIANO: Taron Vincent. Yes, I missed that one. Thank you.