As first reported by Buckeye Grove, Rivals' Ohio State presence, Buckeyes defensive line coach Mike Vrabel is leaving OSU to become the linebackers coach for former Penn State coach Bill O'Brien (whom coached for the Patriots when Vrabel was on the team from 2007-2008) and the Houston Texans. Ohio State confirmed that Vrabel was leaving but did not specify for what job. The coach himself spoke to the news on social media shortly afterwards:
I am thankful for everyone assoc with TOSU for 3 great years and my family and I are excited to join the Houston Texans as the LB coach.— Mike Vrabel (@CoachVrabel50) January 9, 2014
Vrabel first joined the Ohio State staff as the Buckeyes' linebacker coach in 2011 following his retirement from the Kansas City Chiefs after making a name for himself as a linebacker with the Patriots throughout the majority of his NFL career. A major motivating factor in Vrabel coming to Columbus in the first place was his close relationship with then Ohio State head coach (now DC) Luke Fickell stemming from their playing days together in Central Ohio. For many fans, this likely raises questions of whether or not Fickell, who's been the subject of ire for the 2012 defense's inconsistent play, will also be back next season.
The loss of Vrabel represents a big one, particularly on the recruiting front. Vrabel is currently ranked as the 10th best recruiter nationally in the 247Composite Coaching Rankings. This now leaves two openings on Urban Meyer's defensive staff, with cornerbacks and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers having already left the program to become the head coach at James Madison University.