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Ohio State football: Urban Meyer, coaching staff look to evaluations for improvements

Ohio State went 12-0 in 2012, Urban Meyer's first year as head coach. While coach Meyer was the main man in Columbus, he had assistant coaches to help ready his players. Those assistants were evaluated both by Meyer and themselves in late June of 2012, which could have played a big part in the success the Buckeyes had later that year.

Urban Meyer expects competitive excellence from both his player and his staff.
Urban Meyer expects competitive excellence from both his player and his staff.

It's an incredibly difficult task to win every single game played on your schedule, but that's precisely what Ohio State did in 2012. The coaching staff under head coach Urban Meyer did a great job in preparing the players on the roster to compete at some of the highest levels of the sport. Of course, even coaches have pressures on themselves to succeed and to teach the things necessary to their players to win big games. That's why it should come as no surprise that Coach Meyer had his staff complete self-evaluations in June of 2012, before the season even began. After which, Meyer then added in his own comments, such as strengths brought to the team and what needed to be worked on more, following a meeting where Coach Meyer would verbally give each coach his evaluation. The comments he put down were summaries of what was said to the coaches in question.

The main focus of just about every evaluation given was simply to improve upon what they have, but a common theme seemed to appear in the form of recruiting. The result? The coaching staff helped reel in a consensus top five recruiting class for the class of 2013 and already has 10 commitments in the class of 2014. It's safe to say the evaluations had some sort of effect on the staff. Keep in mind these evaluations were only months after Coach Meyer was hired, and was toward the middle of summer. Here's a summary for each coach and what was said about them:

Kerry Coombs

Coach Meyer wasted no time in mentioning the top strength Coombs gave to the staff was the energy level brought. Also listed under his strengths were Coombs' relationships with current players and his "expertise" in high school relations. For things needed to be worked on, "close on a big-time recruit" was the number one priority. As far as his self-evaluation goes, Coombs mostly gave himself solid scores (all categories were under a 1-5 rating, with five being the best) with the majority coming in fours.

Stan Drayton

Meyer made it clear he wanted his running backs coach to provide some new ideas in game plans for the running game. Similarly to Coombs, landing a big-time recruit was number one on what Drayton needed to work on. Drayton also was called "loyal" and was credited for being "focused on Buckeyes". For the self-evaluation, Drayton gave himself almost all fives in just about every category with a few fours and threes here and there. An interesting part reading through Drayton's comments under his goals "What I learn here, I want to eventually take with me and run my own program someday". Drayton also adds that in the meantime, he will continue preparing for championships at Ohio State.

Luke Fickell

Fickell was the only member of the staff to actually fill in an answer to "employee's comments" in which he wrote in "Great meeting with lots of constructive suggestions to get better." Coach Meyer praised the former head coach of Ohio State as having the ability to adapt and embrace the new coaching staff that surrounded him and his leadership role on the defensive staff. For things needed to be worked on, Meyer made it clear he was looking for Fickell to take more of a leadership role overall and to separate himself by motivating the other staff members. For his own ratings, Fickell mixed them up between fours and fives. One of his goals was also interesting: "To develop these young LB's to as good of players as we've had in the past"

Tom Herman

There wasn't much on Herman's evaluation, but "Ability to teach your philosophy (tempo)" was under Herman's strengths that coach Meyer put there. Curiously, Herman was the only coach not to have any comments under things needed to be worked on. For his ratings, it was mostly fours and fives with a few threes sprinkled in. Some of the goals written were having the number one offense in the country, coach the best player in the country (tip of the hat to Braxton Miller, perhaps?) and become a head coach of a national championship team.

Tim Hinton

Out of all the evaluations, Coach Meyer probably made Hinton's a little bit rougher mentioning what needs to be worked on with comments like "ability to articulate the offense" and "efficiency of practice time". Still, Hinton had strengths such as his work ethic, character and the fact that he produced in recruiting. For the ratings, Hinton gave himself a healthy amount of fours and mixed between threes and fives. His goals were something to look at as well, with things written down such as "Become the best recruiter on the staff" and "Become a MAC head coach".

Zach Smith

Coach Meyer takes recruiting very seriously, as it's been a staple of the great teams he's coached in previous years. So it should come as no surprise when Meyer put "recruiting needs improvement" and "more thorough and intensity in recruitment " for Coach Smith. It appears at that time Smith would appear to have been the weakest link when it came to recruiting, but Meyer praised Smith for his knowledge of the offense and special teams. Smith was also pretty hard on himself in the ratings, being the only coach on the staff to give himself a two. Remember, this was around the same time the receiving core was being called a "clown show" by Coach Meyer. Smith also had noteworthy goals: "Accelerate development of my unit (WR's) - can't be the unit that lets the team down!" and "Find what makes my unmotivated players tick (what motivates [Name blacked out] etc.)

Mike Vrabel

Coach Meyer didn't dance around the topic of recruiting with Vrabel either and actually mentioned a recruit's name under what needs to be worked on: "Closing deal on recruits - go get one (Bosa)" We can only assume this is about '13 commit Joey Bosa. Meyer also suggested Vrabel trying to gain more experience at coaching the defensive line "Professional development". For ratings, mostly fours and fives, with fives taking the majority.

Ed Warinner

The biggest thing Coach Meyer wanted to see out of the offensive line coach was improvement on making relationships with recruits, especially the offensive lineman. Meyer also puts "Engagement: family, non-football discussion" which most likely is pointing at Warinner's recruiting methods and how he can expand his ways. For ratings, it switches between fours and fives once again.

Everett Withers

Coach Meyer went hard on Withers in the recruiting category as well, pushing Withers to "Close on a difference maker" and "Intensity and thoroughness in recruiting". His strengths are mentioned as a positive addition to the defensive staff's chemistry and his football knowledge on the defensive side of the ball. His ratings switch between fours and fives. I would say with Vonn Bell, he certainly went on to live up to that desire to push the bar recruiting wise.

While it may be a while before we really find out if the coaching staff improved in the eyes of Coach Meyer, we can assume that most things improved enough in time to run the table and finish as the only undefeated team left at the end of the 2012 season. As for the recruiting concerns, we mentioned before that the staff did extremely well with the class of 2013 and has already had a jump start on the class of 2014. One year later, the Buckeyes are gearing up for what fans hope to be a championship year during Meyer's second full season in Columbus.

To read the evaluations yourself, you can find them here.