CHICAGO – Not a single flaw.
In seven years as head coach of the state of Ohio, Urban Meyer never lost to Michigan. Not once. He beat Brady Hoke three times and won all four games against Jim Harbaugh. The rivalry in which both Big Ten programs are constantly measured meant everything to Meyer and he won the seven games with an average margin of 12.3 points.
He is now gone after retiring after the 2018 season.
Ryan Day is here. Unlike Meyer, Jim Tressel and Woody Hayes, Day did not grow up in Ohio. But he understands the rivalry. Day said he had watched The Game since he was a kid, and he's already 2-0 against the Wolverines as an assistant coach.
As first-year head coach, Day plans to make no adjustments to the state's preparations for Ohio, Michigan.
"No. That worked, "said Day on Thursday's Big Ten media days. "That worked well."
The dozens of reporters who surrounded Day's podium just had to giggle. Everyone knew he was right.
Meyer's approach worked with Ohio State on the street, and it worked when the Buckeyes hosted Michigan. It worked with his team as a heavy favorite, and it worked when it held the rare rank of outsider. It worked in tight games and it worked in blowouts. It worked against Hoke and Harbaugh.
The state of Ohio had never won seven games in a row against Michigan before. Meyer changed that. Day now has a chance to extend the series to eight when he and the Buckeyes march in Ann Arbor, Michigan on November 30.
"What I learned from Urban was that you work on The Game every day," Day said. "And the way to honor the rivalry and respect the rivalry is to work on it every day, and we do. It's part of what we're doing in recruitment, or every day we have times in practice calling it Team Up North Drill, where we work in practice, so we live it every day. We always have that in mind. We have a lot in our institution, and we have to respect these guys as much as possible and the program they have, and we know that this year will be difficult. The last year was a minor anomaly. It's sideways. But we know it will not be easy this year, so we'll have our hands full again. "
In his seven years, Meyer has worked out two aspects of rivalry: respect and constant focus.
The more Day talks about the rivalry, the more he sounds like someone trying to follow Meyer's playbook, leading him to a 7-0 record.
"We live it every day," said Day. "Being part of this rivalry, growing up and seeing it was one of the things that seemed vital. It's incredible to play two games in it and stand 2-0. We know that we will be back next year and it will be difficult and all those things. Nothing but respect for the rivalry. "
For Day to benefit Buckeyes' fans, he must turn that respect into victories.
"It was not long before I found out what the expectations of Ohio State Football were," Meyer said during his retirement press conference on December 4. "Number one, win the rivalry game. And number two, win every game afterwards. "
Meyer reached number one and left the program as the first permanent head coach since the 1940s, who never lost to Michigan. No one in Ohio has ever made the rivalry better than him.
In 134 days, it's time to see if Day can achieve similar success in the game, which is the legacy of so many coaches.