Ohio State's Ryan Day is set to receive a major extension and raise that will make him one of the most well-compensated coaches in college football. The two-year extension, pending board approval on Thursday, will keep Day in Columbus through 2028 and raise his total compensation from $7.6 million to $9.5 million annually, tying him with Michigan State's Mel Tucker's as the Big Ten's highest-paid coach. (Day's base salary will be $2 million). Across college football, the money matches Brian Kelly's new contract at LSU and trails only reported figures 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, winning consecutive Big Ten championships in his first two years and a Big Ten Coach of the Year honor in 2019. Ohio State made College Football Playoff appearances in 2019 and 2020 with a trip to the national championship in the latter season.
Day has specifically earned a reputation as one of the nation's elite offensive developers. Both of his starting quarterbacks -- Justin Fields and C.J. Stroud -- were Heisman finalists. Four Ohio State players have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since Day took over as the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator in 2017, with Stroud and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba almost certain to join the list in 2023.
Here are key takeaways from Day's new contract.
Betting on Day long term
The new contract represents another strong commitment to Day after a period of rousing success to start his career. The Buckeyes reached have a national championship game appearance under Day -- the program's second in the College Football Playoff era -- and went undefeated in the regular season over Day's first two seasons.
Ohio State had a "down" year by its lofty standards in 2021, losing two regular-season games and heading to the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes lost to rival Michigan and dropped a home game (to Oregon on Sept. 11) for the first time since Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma came to town in 2017.
That season was a blip on what has been a wildly successful start to Day's career, however. With a new defensive coordinator (Jim Knowles) coming aboard to fix the shortcomings on that side of the ball, Ohio State is betting that Day can figure things out long term.
Keeping up with the Joneses
Coaching salaries continue to skyrocket as even more money flows into college football. Notably, the Big Ten is negotiating a new media contract that is expected to pay the conference more than $1 billion annually, and Ohio State ranks among the most valuable brands in college athletics.
Several coaches, led by Kelly and Riley, signed eye-popping contracts to change jobs in the past cycle. Additionally, Tucker and Penn State's James Franklin signed mammoth extensions to stay at their schools and not enter a coaching market featuring big fish like LSU, Oklahoma and Notre Dame during the same offseason.
When two-time national champion Urban Meyer took over the Buckeyes in 2012, he signed what was then a massive $4 million contract. Now, $4 million is barely the going rate for Power Five coaches. Just a decade later, coaches are consistently starting to climb towards the $10 million mark. Ohio State is just matching the competition.