Ohio State rewards Ryan Day with a contract extension that makes him one of the highest-paid college football coaches

Ohio State’s Ryan Day is set to receive a major extension and raise that will make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. The two-year extension, approved by the board on Thursday, will keep Day in Columbus through 2028 and increase his total compensation from $7.6 million to $9.5 million a year, putting him with Michigan State’s Mel Tucker’s as the Big Ten’s highest-paid coach. (Base salary for the day is $2 million). In college football, the money matches Brian Kelly’s new contract at LSU, leaving only reported numbers for Alabama’s Nick Saban and USC’s Lincoln Riley, both of whom are expected to make around $10 million or more.

The 43-year-old has led the Buckeyes to a 34-4 record in three seasons, won consecutive Big Ten championships in his first two years, and won Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2019. Ohio State appeared in the college football playoffs in 2019 and 2020 with a trip to the national championship last season.

Day in particular has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s elite offensive developers. His two starting quarterbacks — Justin Fields and CJ Stroud — were Heisman finalists. Four Ohio State players have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since Day served as the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator in 2017, with Stroud and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba likely to join the list in 2023.

Here are the key takeaways from Day’s new deal.

Betting on day long term

The new contract is another strong commitment to Day after a period of success in launching his career. The achieved Buckeyes have one national championship game appearance under Day – the program’s second in the college football playoff era – and went undefeated in Day’s first two seasons of the regular season.

Ohio State had a “down” year by its high standards in 2021, losing two regular-season games and going to the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes lost to rival Michigan and lost a home game (on Sept. 11 to Oregon) for the first time since Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma came to town in 2017.

However, this season was a blip for a wildly successful start to Day’s career. With a new defensive coordinator (Jim Knowles) coming on board to fix the shortcomings that side of the ball, Ohio State is betting that Day can work things out for the long term.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Coach salaries continue to skyrocket as more money pours into college football. Notably, the Big Ten is negotiating a new media deal that is expected to bring the conference more than $1 billion annually, and Ohio State ranks among the most valuable brands in collegiate athletics.

Several coaches, led by Kelly and Riley, signed stunning deals to change jobs last cycle. Additionally, Tucker’s James Franklin and Penn State signed mammoth extensions to stay at their schools and avoid entering a big-fish coaching market like LSU, Oklahoma and Notre Dame in the same offseason.

When two-time national champion Urban Meyer took over the Buckeyes in 2012, he signed what was then a huge $4 million deal. Now $4 million is hardly the common rate for Power Five trainers. Just a decade later, coaches are steadily climbing towards the $10 million mark. The state of Ohio right now matches the competition.

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