One of the great things about being an assistant coach under Urban Meyer is that you get the preparation you need to be a successful head coach. Meyer's coaching tree bloomed even more this season, and given the success that Ohio State's offense had this season, in spite of a rash of injuries and inexperience all over the field, it makes sense that other ADs would look to the Buckeyes to find their next great coach.
That reportedly has happened with Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who is expected to be off soon to become the new head coach at Houston. That's great news for Herman, and we wish him well.
Of course, that means Ohio State needs a new offensive coordinator. Here are some names that the Buckeyes could potentially target.
Ohio State offensive line coach Ed Warinner. Other than Herman, perhaps no member of Ohio State's staff has been praised more this year than Warinner, who took a line that needed to replace four star members, and turned it into a strength of Ohio State's offense and the class of the conference once again. Warinner already knows Meyer and Ohio State's philosophies on offense, he knows the players and the recruiting territories, and giving him a promotion and the requisite bump in salary could go a long way towards making sure Warinner stays in Columbus for a long time. He was a major candidate for the Kansas head coaching position, and others will be sure to call on him in the future.
Other possible candidates:
Mike Sanford Jr, offensive coordinator, Boise State. Mike Sanford might be one of the most impressive young minds in college football, and he already has a strong Meyer connection. Mike's dad, Mike Sanford Sr, was Meyer's OC at Utah when Alex Smith was running through the Mountain West. The younger Sanford led an impressive Boise State offense this season, while turning heads at previous stops at Stanford and Western Kentucky. A former quarterback, Sanford was experience working with both quarterbacks and running backs in his coaching career. Plus, if you need to replace a MENSA member on your staff, it couldn't hurt to bring in a former recruiting coordinator at Yale, right?
Lincoln Riley, offensive coordinator, ECU. Riley is a very hot name in coaching circles right now, and one way or another, should be due for a big year. He's been at the helm of the high flying ECU pirate offenses, and learned the fine art of quarterbacking from Texas Tech, where he played and also coached. Meyer would likely want a candidate with ties to Texas to replace Herman, and while Riley's previous schematic experience might not be a perfect fit, his record is hard to deny. Riley has also been touted as a possible candidate for Kentucky's OC position, and if he stays at ECU, he'll lead some electric battles between Tom Herman and Chad Morris at SMU.
Greg Studrawa, offensive line coach, Maryland. Studrawa was nearly hired by Meyer for Warinner's job, and if the Buckeyes decide to promote from within, Studrawa could be a strong hire to backfill that position. Studrawa was Bowling Green's offensive coordinator under Meyer, and the two piloted explosive offenses with Omar Jacobs, dominating the MAC. He also coached at LSU, producing multiple All-SEC players across the line, won a national title, and has recruiting connections in the south and midwest.
Seth Littrell, assistant offensive head coach, North Carolina. Littrell is a recent hire to North Carolina, after his impressive work at Indiana, building a top 20 offense at perhaps the most difficult job in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers set single season records for total yards over a season, yards per game and points under his tutelage, and for all of North Carolina's faults this season, the team was still able to score points. Littrell also coached at Arizona and Texas Tech, bringing not just midwest experience, but also potentially some coverage of Texas and the southwest.
Doug Meacham, co-offensive coordinator, TCU. Outside of Ohio State, there may not have been a better coaching job on the offensive side of the ball than at TCU this season, and Meacham deserves a lot of the credit. Meacham was a QB coach at Houston and had offensive coaching positions all over the south prior to his stint at TCU, and helped mold Trevone Boykin from a borderline wideout to one of the best quarterbacks in the country. TCU will probably do whatever they can to keep him on staff, but he could be a big time hire for the Buckeyes.
Jay Johnson, offensive coordinator, Louisiana-Lafayette. Johnson may be a bit of an out of the box hire, but this midwestern native may be interested in coming back a little closer to home. Johnson has been at Louisiana-Lafayette for four seasons, helping launch Terrance Broadway as a record breaking, all conference quarterback. The Ragin' Cajuns boasted a top 45 offense in S&P+ this season, and he has experience recruiting not just the south for the Cajuns, but had also coached at Kansas, Southern Miss and Louisville. If the Buckeyes a looking for another innovative mind who can get results without having access to big money facilities or top recruits, Johnson could be a good fit.