Following a disappointing third consecutive loss to their bitter rivals, and a second straight season which ended in two consecutive losses, Ohio State Head Football Coach Ryan Day knew something had to be done. With many Buckeye fans questioning his conservative play calling in crucial points of big games, others asking about his ability to manage from a big picture aspect, and some even calling for his job, Day responded.

Day had one of the better coaching staffs in the league with key pieces such as running backs coach Tony Alford, wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Brian Hartline, up and coming defensive backs coach Tim Walton, the greatest defensive line coach of all time in Larry Johnson, and his defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. Yet, he knew changes had to be made, so he relieved a few coaches of their duties. Out were quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis, special teams coordinator Parker Fleming, and safeties coach Perry Eliano. To replace Eliano, Day reached out to former Indiana safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Matt Guerrieri. Guerrieri will coach safeties as well as play a role in special teams. Then he hired Bill O’Brien, former Penn State and NFL coach and protégé of Bill Belichick. O’Brien would take over control of the offense and give Day a chance to focus more on the whole team as head coach.

Next, he promoted James Laurinaitis to full time linebackers’ coach. Laurinaitis was a three-time all-American with the Buckeyes and had a good NFL career. He came over from Notre Dame last year as a graduate assistant, but his impact on the field as a coach, and potential as a full-time recruiter necessitated the full-time coach designation. This is especially true given the success of former Buckeyes Tim Walton and Brian Hartline as coaches.

However, another issue arose in the Buckeye coaching staff. Before the name plate could be secured to his office door, O’Brien was off to lead Boston College. Enter Chip Kelly.

Kelly was Day’s position coach in college. He is a longtime friend and trusted mentor of Ryan Day. It does not hurt he was also one of the finest offensive minds in the business, the architect of the offense upon which Day derived his offensive scheme, and an accomplished head coach at both the college and pro levels. Kelly resigned his position as head coach at UCLA to become the Buckeyes new offensive coordinator. Creating the most innovative offensive power couple of all time. When you combine Day’s passing schemes with Kelly’s creative run schemes, it is the kind of thing which causes defensive coordinators to have nightmares. Especially when you consider the talent the Buckeyes have at their skill positions. It is hard to imagine things getting any better, yet they did…in an unusual sort of way.

On March 13th, during spring ball, Tony Alford announced he was leaving Ohio State for their rival Michigan. Alford was walking away from one of the most talented rooms, and most talented teams in the country at the strangest possible time. Was the writing on the wall for Alford? Was he having difficulty adjusting to the new system? We will never know, what we do know is that Day, after an extensive search, found a replacement – Carlos Locklyn. And Coach Lock is not just any replacement, he is one of the most driven and fastest rising position coaches in the game.

Locklyn, in only six years has gone from high school coordinator to a volunteer in the Memphis weight room, to a running back coach at Western Kentucky and Oregon, and now leads one of the most talented rooms in the country at one of the nation’s top programs. Coach Lock is a motivator, a leader, and a “builder of relationships” (he does not like to be called a recruiter). Coach Lock was the final piece of what we hope is a national championship staff.

Ryan Day, for all my criticism through the years, has shown one thing – he learns from his mistakes. He has grown and transformed himself as a coach with each new adversity. He takes away a new piece of wisdom from every setback. After three consecutive losses to TTUN and two bowl losses in the three years, I think he has finally learned the ultimate lesson, “I can’t do it alone.” Like all good leaders, he had to learn to trust his people, to impower them to succeed. Now he has assembled a coaching Dream Team which will allow him to do just that, and do not be surprised if come January 2025 he is celebrating with a National Championship.