Keeping the continuity

Undefeated season likely will increase demand for several Ohio State assistants

Updated: November 30, 2012, 9:05 AM ET
By Austin Ward | BuckeyeNation

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If Urban Meyer has his way, his second coaching staff at Ohio State will look just like his first.

Perfection has a way of improving job security in a business measured in wins and losses, and Meyer isn't looking to tinker with a formula that hasn't led to any of the latter with the Buckeyes.

[+] EnlargeOhio State's Luke Fickell
Greg Bartram/US PRESSWIREAfter leading an undefeated defense, Luke Fickell might get a chance at another head-coaching opportunity.
An unblemished record, though, also can be a threat to continuity and familiarity when openings are created elsewhere. And with dominoes falling all over the country, Meyer's assistants are likely to be fielding some calls during the silly season.

That's expected and perhaps even encouraged by Meyer. But unless one of his guys has a promotion being offered, he's clearly expecting them all to return for a potential run at a national championship next season.

"I'm not going to make a change," Meyer said. "The one negative thing about success and hiring good coaches is that they're hot items. If I had five guys that people never call me and want to hire them, that means I've probably got bad coaches. I had a turnstile down at Florida of guys leaving, going to become head coaches.

"I'd like to think at a place like Ohio State, you would only leave here to become a head football coach. If a guy is leaving here to become an assistant somewhere, I'd kind of look and say, 'What the hell are you doing?' "

Assuming Meyer doesn't have to pose any of those questions, there's still a chance he might have to make a hire in the offseason given the eye-catching season the Buckeyes produced and the number of potential head-coaching candidates who contributed to it.

For starters, both of the co-defensive coordinators have previous experience leading a program, albeit on an interim basis.

And while Luke Fickell and Everett Withers weren't overseeing the finest unit in the country during the first half of the season, the Buckeyes adjusted down the stretch with more pressure packages and man coverages and overcame a thin roster and significant injuries to carry the team through some of the toughest games of the season.

On the flip side, the co-coordinators of the spread offense both built on their already impressive resumes by leading the highest-scoring attack in the Big Ten. And while Tom Herman and Ed Warinner don't have the same previous head-coaching experience as their defensive counterparts, their names figure to be coming up in conversations, and the chance to run a program could come at some point.

For any of those four or the rest of the assistants, the question could be when to leave. Like the draft-eligible players wrestling with the decision to declare for the NFL draft, are they ready to take the next step? Do they want to make a run at a national title with the Buckeyes? How much would another huge season impact their stock as potential candidates for bigger jobs?

Given the way the staff jelled and came together during their first 12 months together, Meyer is obviously in no hurry to break up the band. And that loyalty and the relationships that already have been forged could play a significant role as well.

"We grew as a staff, too," Fickell said. "Coach Withers and I, and Coach Vrabel and Coach Coombs, we had some growing to do, and I think it really helped us. Tough times bring out the best in people; we say that about players, and we can say that about coaches.

"I think we did a great job of coming together, hashing through some things and moving on during the season."

Whether any of them decide to move on elsewhere now that it's over remains to be seen.

But it appears quite clear that it will be up to them and not Meyer -- and that he'd better be in the loop or he'll have another, more pointed question to ask them.

"They're good, and I've always had very professional guys that say, 'Hey, I got a phone call, what do you think?' " Meyer said. "But I get it -- this day and age of titles, it's like people would walk across hot coals for a title. I never had a title in my life other than doing a really good job. I don't know, I don't anticipate [changes].

"Continuity is a high priority, but I also understand the profession. I understand guys taking care of their families, and it is that part of the game that it's a business."

For anybody shopping for an assistant coming off perfection, though, the Buckeyes are pretty well stocked.

Austin Ward | email

Ohio State/Big Ten reporter