Ryan Day really wants you to believe Ohio State is set for a quarterback competition

CHICAGO -- Gunnar Hoak has a chance. Just as good a chance to start at quarterback as Justin Fields, Ohio State's celebrated transfer quarterback from Georgia.

First-year coach Ryan Day really wants you to believe that. So much so that he spent a large portion of time at the 2019 Big Ten Media Days on Thursday trying to convince the media -- for starters -- that nothing is decided.

"It's a competition," he told CBS Sports. "Gunnar Hoak is not going to give anything away."

Your next question should absolutely be: Who in Buckeye Heaven is Gunnar Hoak?

He is a 6-foot-4 graduate transfer from Kentucky who has all of 26 career passes to his credit. That's only 13 fewer passes than Fields has to his name after a freshman season backing up Jake Fromm at Georgia in 2018.

That's about the only category where the two appear even. Fields taking over for Dwayne Haskins is considered one of the larger slam dunks of the 2019 season.

When Day replaced Urban Meyer and backup Tate Martell eventually transferred, the coach desperately needed to find a plug-and-play quarterback.

While Fields saw little action at Georgia, he was considered the No. 2 player (behind Trevor Lawrence) in the Class of 2018. Lawrence eventually won the starting job at Clemson, leading the Tigers to a national title.

Day did his best to convince anyone who would listen that Fields had not been promised anything and is not entitled to the job.

"Everyone assumes [Fields] is going to win the job, but he hasn't been here long enough," Day said.

Who is he kidding? You don't go to the wall to seek a waiver application for a budding superstar only to declare the job up for grabs.

Or maybe you have to. No quarterback on the roster has been around longer than seven months. That clinches it. A first-year head coach will have a first-year starter at quarterback.

Fields has massive credentials. If he doesn't win the job, Ohio State is in massive trouble. Out of Kennesaw, Georgia, he is seen as a combination of DeShaun Watson as a runner and John Elway as a thrower.

But after playing sparingly as a change-of-pace QB behind Fromm, Fields found a starting job waiting for him at Ohio State. Well, he assumes.

"Everybody looks good in shorts and T-shirts," said Ohio State defensive end Jonathan Cooper. "We have to wait until he gets his pads on to see how somebody really looks."

Let's put it another way: Fields better win the job. There is a reason Hoak spent three years at Kentucky throwing 26 passes. (You can see his career retrospective here.)

Ohio State can't afford to groom a new guy. It needs production right now.

At stake is Day's first impression as a full-time head coach and perhaps the Big Ten race. Michigan is favored to win the league, but as Day pointed out, nobody knew who Dwayne Haskins was until he broke out last season.

"It's one thing to practice, but until a guy plays, you don't know," Day added. "No one would have ever thought Dwayne did what he thought last year. It was a hard decision between him and Joe Burrow."

Haskins won the job, threw 50 touchdown passes, became a Heisman Trophy finalist and threw for the most passing yards in Big Ten history (4,831). Burrow transferred to LSU. 

Day would like to have a starter named within the first two weeks of August.

"If it goes into the third week of camp, then either they're both competing at a high level or nobody stepped up yet," he said. "You don't know what it's going to look like. Someone could step off a curb tomorrow."

If you don't know it already, one of the big reasons Day has the job with the Buckeyes is because he has become one of the game's foremost quarterback whisperers. Chip Kelly brought him to the NFL as his quarterbacks coach with the Eagles and 49ers.

When Day was elevated to interim coach during Meyer's troubles of last August, Kelly texted his old New Hampshire quarterback: "You're built for this."

No matter which way the job goes, Day promised mistakes at the position that could take until halfway through the season to clear up.

"Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of failing [at quarterback] or him spending a few years as an understudy," Day said. "Some of those failures are going to happen in a game. There are going to be a lot of deep breaths.

"In the end, the good news is we have a chance for a high ceiling."

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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