We're in the Silly Season of college football, and not just because something called the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl exists. It's silly because of what is going on behind the scenes with team's staffs. After a 12-0 season, can the coaching staff Urban Meyer brought together stay together?
For a team that went undefeated with no bowl to look forward to this year, the Ohio State Buckeyes have a bit of an advantage over the rest of their college football brethren. While most coaches are busy preparing their teams for their postseason exhibition games (because that's what all bowl games are to their participants, with the only exceptions being Alabama and Notre Dame, who are playing for the championship), Ohio State can send the full force of their staff and recruiting prowess into the living rooms and football facilities of the nation's next Johnny Football.
So far, this situation is paying off for the Buckeyes in big ways. And this is all good for the team, good for the future, and good for head coach Urban Meyer and his staff. The focus that Meyer, Tom Herman, Stan Drayton and Kerry Coombs (among many others) can put on recruiting will help ensure not only the longevity of the program, but also of their jobs with Ohio State.
At least for now.
This part of the year has been called by many the "Silly Season" and it really is that. Between the Beef 'O' Brady St. Petersburg Bowl, which I swear to God is a real thing, to the war being fought on the recruiting trail, very little going on is actually football. But there is a whole other side of the Silly Season that has reared its ugly head at the WHAC in the past few weeks. And while there hasn't been a casualty yet, this part of the Silly Season is far from over.
At the end of bad years, college football teams, like any business, will get rid of unnecessary or under-performing staff. This year, there have been several firings or note; Tennessee parted ways with Derek Dooley, Cal finally shuffled loose from Jeff Tedford's mortal coil, and at Arkansas, the ever-crazy John L. Smith (who was replacing the ever-crazy Bobby Petrino) was not given the opportunity to stay on for another year.
This whole process starts a domino effect: when these new jobs come open, head coaches from smaller schools look to improve their standing, and bolt to the bigger schools. Some of them take assistants with them. Those posts at smaller schools now need filled, and ambitious assistants and coordinators from other schools are often tapped to fill those jobs. The dominoes continue to fall until each coaching position is finally filled and the season starts anew. It happens every year, and is well documented in several corners of the Internet.
When it comes to ambitious assistants and coordinators, Ohio State has always been a sort of "developmental league" for head coaching candidates; one great example is Mark Dantonio, who went from Ohio State coordinator under Jim Tressel to University of Cincinnati head coach, to Michigan State head coach. Another, Darrell Hazel, went from WR coach under Tressel to Kent State head coach, and will, next year, lead the Purdue Boilermakers as the new head coach.
While Tressel had his disciples move up the ranks, Meyer's staffs have also become ripe for the picking of other schools. Steve Addazio will coach Boston College this year, while former top coordinators, Dan Mullen at Mississippi State and Charlie Strong at Louisville, are thriving in their current positions, Strong in particular, whose name was attached to pretty much every coaching vacancy this year.
So why does this matter to Buckeye fans? Because the team, the players and those fans don't want a leg up on recruiting, or preparation for next year; they all would rather have a national championship. And a staff that just took a 6-7 team to 12-0 while barely scratching the surface of their potential, is probably the right gang to get the job done.
Unless a different opportunity rears said ugly head.
When Meyer was hired as head coach, he guaranteed fans that he would prepare the greatest staff in the country, and he didn't disappoint - hard to do when you beat Michigan en route to an undefeated season. While there were issues in all phases of the game at points this year, there was no issue in the loss column, only a big, fat goose egg. These coaches are attractive to Meyer and to the Buckeyes because of this. But they're also looking pretty good to other teams, too.
Ohio State's coaching staff is full of, as Columbus's favorite, fedora'd local scribe Lori Schmidt put it, wanted men, with several key cogs in Meyer's staff indicated as candidates or front-runners for other positions. Meyer called it a "turnstile" when he was at Florida, with how quickly his guys would come in and leave for better opportunities, and so far at Ohio State, interest in his assistants has certainly been high.
But, so far, no school has been able to pluck away a Buckeye. Yet.
My hope is that the staff, which Meyer said he wanted to stay intact, is doing just that because they see what the future could hold for this team. Even with John Simon graduating, and the just-announced departure of Johnathan Hankins, the defense is going to be full of talent and depth at almost every level. And the offense can really only get better, as Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller get another year of experience under their belts. The coaches and team already thought they could beat anyone in the country this year, maybe everyone is just waiting for the opportunity to do just that next year.
There are still some higher profile coaching vacancies that need filled. Teeth-cutting jobs at Florida International and Kent State could be ripe for the fruit of Meyer's Buckeye coaching tree. Here's hoping we get to keep that fruit in Columbus for at least another year.