It's only October, but the college football coaching carousel is already starting to turn. Kansas, Troy, Buffalo and SMU are all looking for new coaches, and Florida and Michigan, among others, are almost certain to join at some point, perhaps even before the season ends.
And with so many open, or potentially open coaching gigs, that means folks are going to start looking for successful assistant coaches as possible candidates to take those jobs. Already, Ohio State's Tom Herman has been mentioned multiple times as a potential top candidate for SMU, while Buckeye offensive line whisperer Ed Warinner has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Kansas, where he had coached previously. If the Buckeyes don't absolutely implode down the stretch this season, it's entirely possible that two assistant coaches leave for other positions, and maybe as many as four could get serious looks for promotions elsewhere.
Losing quality coaches is always a cause for concern, but Buckeye fans can take solace in one thing as Meyer potentially looks to hire new coaches this offseason. If this season is any indication, working for Urban Meyer is one of the best jobs in college football.
If you want to be a head coach at the FBS level, chances are, you're going to need to spend some time as a coordinator for another program. If you're a hotshot coaching prospect looking for your next job, you want to find a successful program (chances are, nobody is itching to snap up that hotshot coordinator at a 2-10 UMass team), and also one that has a strong track record of teaching coordinators the necessary program building skills to be a credible coaching candidate. You want your boss to have a track record of getting his guys hired elsewhere.
And almost nobody does that better than Urban Meyer. And his pupils are having a particularly banner year.
There are ten individuals who have worked under Meyer that have gone on to be head coaches at the FBS level at some capacity, while another three coach at the FCS level. They are:
Steve Addazio, Boston College (Florida OL/OC under Meyer)
Gary Andersen, Wisconsin (Utah DL under Meyer)
Tim Beckman, Illinois (DC at Bowling Green under Meyer)
Gregg Brandon, Bowling Green, now OC at New Mexico State (OC at Bowling Green under Meyer)
Doc Holliday, Marshall (Safeties coach at Florida under Meyer)
Dan McCarney*, North Texas (DL at Florida under Meyer)
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State (OC at Florida under Meyer)
Mike Sanford, UNLV, now HC at Indiana State (OC at Utah under Meyer)
Charlie Strong, Texas (DC at Florida under Meyer)
Kyle Whittingham, Utah (DC at Utah under Meyer)
Everett Withers, James Madison (DC at Ohio State under Meyer)
Jay Hill, Weber State (GA at Utah under Meyer)
* = McCarney was a head coach at Iowa State before working for Meyer, but we're counting him on this list anyway
That's a hell of a list. Five of those coaches have spent time in the AP Top 25 this season. Another has a major win over a power program this year (Boston College beating USC), and Sanford and Withers are showing promising early results in rebuilding jobs at the FCS level. Two of these teams are undefeated, and Dan Mullen's Mississippi State Bulldogs are the number one team in the country.
Meyer disciples Holiday, Whittingham and Mullen, all at places that are not easy to stock with blue-chip talent, are a combined 18-1, with victories over power programs like Auburn, UCLA, Texas A&M and Michigan.
At the FBS level, former Meyer coaches are a combined 34-28, a number dragged down a little given that Strong, Addazio and McCarney are in the middle of rebuilding jobs. At the FCS level, Withers and Sanford are a combined 8-6, as both James Madison and Indiana State have winning records. Jay Hill is a first year coach at a very tough Weber State job and is currently 0-7, but had to play both FBS Arizona State, and the best team in FCS, North Dakota State, this year.
Those are just the head coaches though. Vance Bedford, the former Florida defensive backs coach under Meyer, led a strong defense for years at Louisville and is currently working as the DC for Charlie Strong at Texas, leading a unit that is one of the few bright spots in a rebuilding year for the Longhorns. John Hevesy, who coached Florida tight ends under Meyer, is one of the assistants at Mississippi State leading an absolutely punishing running game for the highest ranked team in the country, along with fellow Meyer assistant Billy Gonzales. Zach Azzanni, who was a GA at Bowling Green under Meyer and later a coach at Florida, is now the WR coach of a promising unit at Tennessee. The list goes on and on.
The Ohio State staff that Meyer has assembled is good enough to produce multiple head coaches as well. Tom Herman will almost certainly get a head coaching opportunity soon, if not at SMU, then somewhere else. Stan Drayton and Luke Fickell both attracted interest for Group of 5 jobs last year, and could pop up again should the right opportunity arise. Warinner was a candidate for Army and will probably continue to attract interest as long as Ohio State's offensive line blooms. It isn't even impossible to imagine the fiery Kerry Coombs getting a slot someday soon, especially if the right MAC job opens in the near future.
One of the most important things for a manager to do in any organization is make the right hires. Meyer's track record over the last decade should assuage any fears about Ohio State's ability to replace quality coaches (or in Meyer's judgement, in hiring Chris Ash). Working for Meyer is the equivalent of an elite graduate school for football minds. There should be no shortage of quality applicants should an opening or two pop up this offseason.