Monday, January 30, 2012
Take two: Thoughts on Ohio State's staff
By Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett
The Big Ten had three head-coaching changes in recent weeks, and new leading men have stepped in at Ohio State, Illinois and Penn State. We will be sharing our thoughts on the three new coaching staffs as they become complete. We already looked at Illinois' new staff, and Ohio State is next up on the rundown.
Here's the new Ohio State staff:
Urban Meyer -- head coach
Everett Withers -- assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/safeties
Luke Fickell -- defensive coordinator/linebackers
Tom Herman -- offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Ed Warinner -- co-offensive coordinator/offensive line
Stan Drayton -- running backs
Tim Hinton -- tight ends
Zach Smith -- wide receivers
Mike Vrabel -- defensive line
Bill Sheridan -- defensive backs
So Today's Take Two topic is: How did Meyer fare in putting together his staff at Ohio State?
Take 1: Adam Rittenberg
Meyer set the bar high at his introductory news conference in November, saying he planned to "try to assemble the best coaching staff in college football." While I expected a little more star power in Meyer's hires, I like the cross-section of coaches joining Meyer in Columbus. He ended up retaining three assistants -- Fickell, Vrabel and Drayton -- and would have kept a fourth had Taver Johnson not left for a co-defensive coordinator spot at Arkansas. That number surprises me a bit, although keeping Fickell is huge, particularly from a recruiting standpoint. Withers is a veteran defensive coach who can take over the coordinator duties if and when Fickell leaves for a head-coaching position. Warinner seems like an excellent addition, and Meyer is close with Hinton, who also comes over from Notre Dame. The most intriguing hire by far is Herman, considered a rising star in the profession. Will he and Meyer revitalize the Ohio State offense? The unit certainly needs a shake-up, and it'll be interesting to see how Herman fares in a big-time, high-pressure job. This isn't Iowa State. The other big hire not on this list is strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, who Meyer brought from Florida. Overall, this might not be a star-studded staff, but it's a very solid one.
Take 2: Brian Bennett
Several members of Meyer's staff at Florida went on to become head coaches. His first Ohio State staff included two guys who have already been head coaches, if only for one season each, in Fickell and Withers. They bring some real star power to the defensive side, and the only concern there is how two men who called all the shots themselves last year will react to working as co-coordinators. They'll have to check their egos at the door, but I think their respect for Meyer will allow them to do that. Vrabel moving to defensive line is interesting, and he'll have a wealth of talent to work with in returning guys like John Simon and Jonathan Hankins and the blue-chip recruits that are coming in, led by Noah Spence. Sheridan also brings a wealth of experience, including time as an NFL defensive coordinator. I agree with Adam that Herman is the wild card of the bunch. Meyer identified an up-and-comer rather than shooting for an established name, and Herman will be working with a higher caliber of athlete while also trying to blend his philosophy with the offensive-minded head coach. Best staff in America? Probably not, though that's a highly subjective description anyway. The important thing is that Meyer found a solid blend of veterans and young guns, program insiders and those with outside perspectives. This staff should help the Buckeyes emerge as a national powerhouse again in the very near future.