COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's Ryan Day brought a defective whistle to the Buckeyes' warm-up session Saturday morning and needed to send someone to find him one that worked. That's about the only thing that didn't go smoothly in the 39-year-old acting head coach's first game in the driver's seat of a college football program.
Day laughed off the pregame whistle mishap after recapping No. 5 Ohio State's 77-31 victory over visiting Oregon State. He said he wasn't nervous heading into the first of three games in which he'll serve as a stand-in for suspended coach Urban Meyer.
"There was a quiet confidence about this team all along," Day said. "When you're surrounded with players and coaches that have your back and that you know you've been through some stuff with, you kind of feel good about it."
Day said he has coached the past month with the idea that he just wants to "keep this thing going in the right direction" until Meyer returns. Meyer will be back at practice and in meetings Monday morning. He is allowed to coach the team during the week but cannot coach in the games against Rutgers and No. 16 TCU.
"I think guys will be excited to get him back," said wide receiver and captain Parris Campbell, who was one of six Buckeyes to reach the end zone Saturday. "I felt like we got into a groove without him going through the entire fall camp and now Week 1. I think guys are excited to get him back. I know he'll be excited to be back."
Ohio State's players and Day expect that it will be "business as usual" Monday morning when Meyer returns and the team starts preparing for its next game against Rutgers. Meyer has talked to the team only once since he was placed on administrative leave Aug. 1 while the school investigated how he handled domestic assault allegations against a former assistant coach.
Day took over as the team's interim coach at the start of training camp on Aug. 3 and has remained in that role. He said it took him a couple days to get organized before he found his stride as a first-time head coach.
The stream of involuntary grins from Day on the first day of September provided a stark contrast to the grim month of August that landed him in this position.
The school's two-week investigation involving Meyer and others turned up a series of sordid details about questionable, unchecked behavior from former wide receivers coach Zach Smith. Investigators also found that Meyer said things that were "plainly not accurate" and misrepresented what he knew about a 2015 domestic assault allegation made by Smith's ex-wife when talking to reporters in late July. The university suspended Meyer for three games for mismanaging Smith and for failing to uphold the standards of the school while answering questions about the situation.
Day said he enjoyed taking over many of the duties that usually fall on Ohio State's head coach, including going from room to room Friday night and talking to players during the usual "bed check." He said he had to pinch himself while looking out at Ohio Stadium before taking the field before kickoff.
"I looked over to [football staffer Quinn Tempel] and said, 'Are we really doing this?' I had a smile on my face and ran out," Day said. "When you have those guys behind you, this coaching staff behind you, that's what it is."
Day looked just as happy when he greeted his family on the field after completing a game in which his offense scored 11 touchdowns on 14 possessions against the overmatched Oregon State defense and weathered an hour-plus lightning delay at halftime.
"He's a really good coach," said Mike Weber, who scored four of those touchdowns. "He's always thinking of how to make us better as a group and a team. He's the perfect guy to do that job."