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Ryan Day-Big Ten Media Days main

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day responds to a question during the Big Ten Conference NCAA college football media days Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO — Ryan Day said he doesn't like to compare himself to Urban Meyer.

Who would? Meyer, the former Ohio State coach who retired after last season, never lost more than two games in a single year during his tenure with the Buckeyes. In fact, OSU dropped a total of just nine contests since Meyer's hiring in 2012.

He won three Big Ten titles and a national championship in 2014, and he led Ohio State to a major bowl game in every season, with the exception of his first year — when the Buckeyes went 12-0 while on a postseason ban.

Day, his successor, spent just three games as a head coach — while Meyer was on administrative leave to begin last season — before taking over one of the most prestigious and successful programs in the country.

"You don't replace a legend," Day said at Thursday's opening session of Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. "You don't replace one of the best football coaches in the history of the game.

"What you can do is just be yourself, and I think that's what I'm doing."

An entirely new era of Ohio State football will begin next month when the Buckeyes open their season against Florida Atlantic, and it's already brought on a different feel to the conference Meyer dominated for much of his time in Columbus.

Ohio State isn't even favored to win the East division this year, according to a media poll conducted by Cleveland.com. That designation went to Michigan - an archival that the Buckeyes defeated all seven seasons under Meyer.

No one would blame Day for taking that as a slight. His team remains home to some of the best talent in college football, and the Meyer for Day switch on the sidelines appears to be one of the driving forces behind the belief that Ohio State could surrender its spot atop the Big Ten.

Day, the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator last season, doesn't want to take any credit for Meyer's success, however, and he said his team still has plenty to prove in his first year as head coach. On-field results are the only thing that will begin building a post-Meyer legacy.

"We have a lot to prove," Day said. "This is a new staff. This is a new team. We haven't done anything, and we need to do that.

"It's going to come down to proving it on the field. That's what matters in the end."

Meyer, coincidentally, remains one advantage Day will maintain this year.

Meyer's now an assistant athletic director for the Buckeyes and is co-teaching a class on leadership in Ohio State's Fisher College of Business.

"I'd be crazy if I didn't (talk to Meyer)," Day said. "He's been unbelievable in terms of understanding when to be there, when to step away. He's taken multiple phone calls from me just looking for advice on how to handle certain things.

"And that would have been the case if I was anywhere else because of our relationship, but being at Ohio State and being right across the street, he's an unbelievable resource and he's been a huge help, and he's going to continue to do that throughout the fall."

That relationship could make this transition all the smoother for Ohio State's players, who didn't need to adjust to wholesale changes or an entirely new coaching staff.

Senior defensive end Jonathon Cooper said the players already had respect for Day prior to Meyer's retirement, and many of the foundational elements Meyer installed still remain after his departure.

"We still keep the same mindset," Cooper said. "Because although the head coach changed, the culture, the core values of the program, the core values that Coach Meyer put into place with the football team isn't changing.

"Even though Coach Meyer's not there anymore, there's still a standard that he set that we're going to live by."

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