Ryan Day TreVeyon Henderson Ohio State
Football

What Are The Buckeyes Looking For In A Running Backs Coach?

Tony Alford may not have known it at the time, but when he left Ohio State for Michigan, he not only made more money for himself, but for a handful of other running back coaches as well.

With Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day in the market for a new running back coach, other programs around the country felt the need to restructure some contracts.

Alabama running back coach Robert Gillespie saw his salary increase from $565,000 per year to $850,000. And after having a two-year extension approved in January, Oklahoma running backs coach Demarco Murray had that contract torn up this month and was given a larger three-year deal.

Day’s search for Alford’s replacement is ongoing, with no specific hurried timeline in mind. Day is handling the running back coaching duties at the moment, but he will eventually find a new coach for his ball carriers.

What is he looking for?

“I think when you’re bringing anybody into the program, you’re trying to figure out what is their expertise?” Day said. “I shared this with the team, I think it’s important, we want to be the best team we can possibly be next year. We have a bunch of talent. But it’s not about individuals, it’s about the team. You need each other in order to reach a goal. That’s what’s special about football.

“So, the running back coach has to be an expert at coaching the running backs. You have to bring value every day. When you stand in front of a group of men, especially a group like we have in that room, your competency has to be at a high level. When you stand in front of anybody in this building, you’ve got to know what you’re talking about. And it’s about building trust.”

Building trust is huge, and it’s not something that could have necessarily been done on the fly in spring camp. The need for that trust is another reason that it wasn’t necessary to hurry through a process.

According to Day, the trust is built through competency, connection, and character. When those characteristics are on display constantly, players begin to trust you. And when they trust you, that’s when “you can really develop guys at a high level.”

Coaching Is Also Recruiting

Tony Alford had his ups and downs as a recruiter at Ohio State, but he routinely swung for the fences.

That can lead to home runs and strike outs. Sometimes it can lead to both for the same player, as when former Texas running back Bijan Robinson “silently committed” to Ohio State but eventually ended up with the Longhorns.

As with any assistant coach, the ability to recruit will be a must.

“Now, the recruiting part is very, very important,” Day said. “And that’s about building relationships and building trust through the recruiting process. Would we like somebody that has recruited at a high level already here? Yeah, I think that would be ideal. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s going to make the best coach for that position.”

A history of recruiting at a high level is why other programs are trying to keep Ohio State’s hands off of their running back coaches. They don’t want to lose what they have.

But a history of recruiting at a high level is not a requirement for being able to recruit at a high level. Ryan Day cites himself and co-offensive coordinator Brian Hartline as proof of that. Day’s biggest college stop before Ohio State was Boston College, and Hartline’s only ever been an OSU coach.

“I think about myself coming in here,” Day said. “I had never recruited at a place like Ohio State before. But it worked out for me. I think some other guys have been in that same situation before. Brian Hartline had never recruited at this level before. He played at this level, but he didn’t recruit here.

“And so while it’s good to have the experience, we want to make sure we get the right guy. We’re being very, very thorough in the interview process. We’re going to ask a lot of questions. We’re going to take as much time as we need and make sure we get the right guy.”

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