The coaching carousel is in full swing, and like most of us predicted in the offseason, the Buckeyes will be looking to replace a coach. Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers is taking his talents to James Madison, leaving a hole on the staff.
Given the shaky performances, especially late in the season, on that side of the ball, this would be a particularly important hire for the Buckeyes. With that in mind, we've taken a look at some potential targets that Meyer and company might look at to become the next Buckeye assistant.
FWIW, Coach Withers made $585,000 last season. For the right candidate, I imagine Ohio State would be willing to pay more than that.
Current job: Linebackers coach at Tennessee
Current salary: $350,000
Why he may be a target: Thigpen was Meyer's cornerbacks and special team coach when Urban was the head coach at Bowling Green, where he helped mold a successful defense. He also helped tutor strong defensive units, both with linebackers and safeties, at North Carolina, and Auburn. Most important though, Thigpen has the reputation for being an ace recruiter. He's currently 6th in the 247Sports recruiter rankings, competing against ultra competitive SEC programs.
Current job: Florida Defensive Coordinator
Current salary: $500,00
Why he may be a target: Durkin has some Ohio ties, as he's from Boardman, and went to Bowling Green. The Florida Gators may have been a tire fire of a football team this season, but it wasn't because of their defense, which has been solid for the last few years, and Durkin can claim to have his fingerprints all over it, as a DC and linebacker coach. Given the potential instability in the Muschamp administration should Florida struggle again this year, it's possible Durkin could be enticed to look elsewhere, especially if Ohio State writes a big check.
Current job: Wisconsin secondary coach
Current salary: $220,000
Why he may be a target: Busch was the secondary coach at Utah when Meyer was head coach, and helped lead Utah to their greatest success in school history. Busch has ties to the Big Ten (he was a GA at Wisconsin prior to his current position, and also worked on Nebraska's staff), and can point to excellent on field results, even at a place like Utah State, which previously experienced almost no success before the Gary Andersen era. Busch might not have the recruiting record that other coaches might have, but the results on the field speak for themselves.
Current job: Marshall defensive coordinator
Current salary: $200,000
Why he may be a target: Heater has fairly extensive ties to Meyer, first meeting up with him at Ohio State back in 1985, when both were working for Earle Bruce. Heater shared a staff with Meyer at Colorado State, and then went to work for him as secondary coach at Utah, before following him to Florida, where he worked as a cornerback coach and recruiting coordinator. Heater is a Michigan Man (he was a very successful running back for the Wolverines in the 1970s), and is coaching in his home state of West Virginia, but it will be hard to find a coach potentially on the market that has a longer relationship with Urban Meyer.
Current job: Louisville defensive coordinator
Current salary: $500,000
Why he may be a target: Bedford also has ties to Meyer, working as his defensive backs coach at Florida. Bedford has been on the staff for major programs like Michigan and Oklahoma State, along with the Chicago Bears, and been a part of a successful staff at Louisville under Charlie Strong. Ohio State would likely need to open their wallets to pry Bedford from Louisville.
Current job: Baltimore Ravens secondary coach
Current salary: Not listed.
Why he may be a target: Austin is another former Meyer hire (Florida DC), and has coached defensive backs at Syracuse, Wake Forest, Penn State and Michigan. Austin also has a bevy of experience coaching professionals, having served on the staff of the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. If Austin ever wanted to go back to the college game, this would be an ideal opportunity.
Current job: Florida secondary coach
Current salary: $300,000
Why he may be a target: Like a lot of the other coaches on this list, Travaris has Florida ties, although his come in the post-Urban Meyer era. Robinson is a younger coach (only 32), but one who has had success in getting the most out of units at Texas Tech and Southern Miss. His biggest appeal would be in the recruiting department though. According to 247Sports, Robinson is currently the best recruiter of any assistant coach in the country for the current class. The opportunity to take those recruiting skills to a potentially more stable environment, with a bigger paycheck, could be awfully enticing.
Current job: Virginia CB coach/recruiting coordinator
Current salary: $220,000
Why he may be a target: West had been a dynamite recruiter, helping stock UVA with blue chip secondary talent (he's #13 on the 247Sports list), an uncommon occurrence at Virginia. Most of West's coaching career has been centered around Virginia, which is growing in importance as a recruiting destination, and he's shown that's capable of developing the talent he's brought in. Virginia might have an even bigger cloud of uncertainty around it than Florida, given the team's struggles this year, and West might be highly amiable to taking a promotion and hopping out of what could be a sinking ship.
Current job: Oregon secondary coach
Current salary: $320,833
Why he may be a target: Neal has been a more than capable recruiter at Oregon (22nd on 247Sports list), and brings a large swath of geographic exposure to the staff, having coached at BYU, New Mexico, UAB and Ole Miss, along with his 10 year stint with the Oregon Ducks, where they have been exceptionally successful. Neal may be a little more of a longshot compared to other coaches on this list, but with the potential for more turnover in the near future, and the prospect of a healthy raise, Neal could perhaps be enticed to head to the midwest.
Current job: Safeties coach at Notre Dame
Current salary: Not listed (ND is private)
Why he may be a target: It may be a bit of a longshot, but if Meyer wanted a coach with more experience to round out his staff, Elliott could potentially be called, especially with Notre Dame in the midst of changing coordinators. Elliott has coached for over 30 years, at Iowa, San Diego State, Kansas State and Ball State, so his ties to the midwest would be unquestioned. While his recruiting acumen may pale in comparison to others on his list, his ability to develop talent and produce strong secondaries is unquestioned.
Who did we miss? Who would you like to see on the staff, and what direction do you think Meyer and company should turn to?
Luke Zimmerman contributed to this report.