The regular season is over for most of college football, and the coaching search silly season is now very much in full swing. As of right this very second, there are 14 head coaching openings, and more will probably open up over the course of the week. Nobody will be making a run at Ohio State's Urban Meyer, of course, but that doesn't mean that this season won't impact the Buckeyes. Here's a look at how things might directly impact the Scarlet and Gray.
Ohio State's Big Ten opponents are changing coaches
The two open positions in the Big Ten West are already filled, as both Illinois and Minnesota opted to punt on the coaching search and offer short-term deals to their interim coaches, opting to stick with Bill Cubit and Tracy Claeys, respectively. Institutional instability, not to mention a very crowded coaching market, played into that decision, and based on the track record of both coaches, we're skeptical that either will be leading his team to significant improvements. That actually may not matter very much for Ohio State though. The Buckeyes don't play Minnesota again until 2018, and Illinois until 2017. The schools don't compete against each other in recruiting very often either, and it's not impossible one, or both programs will be back on the market again in 2019.
The bigger direct impact for Ohio State would be with the openings at Maryland and Rutgers. Rutgers completely cleaned house on Sunday, making the decision to replace both Kyle Flood and AD Julie Hermann. Maryland may be closer to finding a coach, as Michigan defensive coordinator D.J Durkin is reportedly "ready to sign a deal" to take over. Rutgers may take a little more time, but former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck, former Miami head coach Al Golden and Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal will all likely figure into the decision.
My best guess is that Rutgers is going to end up with an experienced upgrade to Flood, one way or another. It's hard to make a definitive statement about a coordinator, but Durkin has done excellent work so far. Ohio State has a massive talent advantage over both programs, so it may not matter in the short term, but perhaps these programs won't be doormats in the a few years.
But other Ohio State opponents are making coaching changes too
Ohio State opens the 2016 season with Bowling Green, and the Falcons will almost certainly be breaking in a new coach as well. Dino Babers was previously tied to the UCF position, and it seems likely that he'll be getting a head coaching job somewhere else this cycle. Bowling Green's offense this season has been electric, and Babers will be bringing points and points wherever he goes. For what it's worth, Ohio State's second 2016 opponent, Tulsa, will be working with only a second year head coach (Phil Montgomery).
Could any of open position try to bring in an Ohio State coach?
There are two Ohio State assistants likely to garner potential interest as head coaches, Chris Ash, and Ed Warinner. On paper, Ash seemed like a perfect fit for Iowa State, given his previous coaching experience at the school and his Iowa roots, but the Cyclones quickly closed in on Toledo's Matt Campbell.
Ohio State's assistants probably aren't going to be a fit for any other Power Five jobs in this cycle, but assistants with strong midwestern recruiting ties are often sought for MAC level positions, and there will be a few good ones. Toledo, of course, is already open, and Bowling Green is about to be. Western Michigan is reportedly going to try and keep P.J Fleck, but Rutgers could still potentially pry him away, opening another position. One local reporter already thinks Ed Warinner could be a name to watch for:
One name that people aren’t mentioning for Toledo job that maybe they should? Ed Warinner. Ohio guy, wants to be a HC.— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) November 30, 2015
According to Football Scoop, Syracuse could also be an option for Chris Ash:
Up at Syracuse, sources tell FootballScoop that Ohio State’s Chris Ash is a strong candidate. More -> https://t.co/sNnVtycOD5— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) December 1, 2015
Ash doesn't have an obvious tie to the Northeast, and Syracuse was rumored to want to go offense rather than defense, but it's hard to argue with Ash's results at Ohio State.
Ohio State's running back coach Tony Alford also wants to be a head coach, and could be a candidate as well, but Ash and Warinner seem like more likely candidates in this cycle.
It's a little early in the search process for the MAC programs to get definitive, but don't be surprised if Ohio State coaches at least interview for them. Bowling Green hiring a Buckeye would make next year's season opener even more of a must-watch game.
What about recruiting?
Unless an Ohio State loses an assistant coach, this will probably be the most direct way coaching searches impact Ohio State. We'll have more details later, and the biggest changes will likely be with 2017 and beyond, but since Ohio State recruits all over the country, a few coaching changes could have an impact on the class of 2016.
It's not impossible, for example, for new Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente to take another run at 2016 Ohio State commit Wayne Davis, who is from Norfolk, VA and picked the Buckeyes over the Hokies. An energetic new Maryland coach could try to kick the tires on 2016 Buckeye DB Kareem Felder, from Reisterstown, MD.
The biggest dominos might be in the South though, especially Georgia, a state that has become even more important to Ohio State recruiting as of late. If the Bulldogs hire a major name, Ohio State's future recruiting could become more difficult.
There's a lot of moving parts and a lot can happen over the next few weeks. It's a pretty good bet that some of it, even if it isn't entirely clear now, will touch Ohio State football.