“Sometimes guys have to wait five years. Other guys don’t. But that’s what they agreed on in the past. Next time we’ve just got to do a better job of structuring what we want to do. At the end of the day, if you play at a high level, things should pan out for you.”
Former Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier has been looking out for his fellow first-round picks this offseason, arguing for a new collective bargaining agreement that would provide more leeway on rookie contracts for first-round selections. Shazier is entering his fourth season in the league after the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him with the 15th-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Steelers picked up the fifth-year option on Shazier’s contract back in April, despite Shazier missing 14 games over the course of his first three seasons due to injury. Shazier made his first Pro Bowl last year after finishing the regular season with 87 tackles and three picks.
Currently, according to the collective bargaining agreement, the league uses a slotting system for rookie salaries, standardized across the league. All first-round draft picks have a four-year contract, with a team option in the fifth year. First-round selections are also limited in that they cannot negotiate a new deal until after their third year of play. Second-round picks can work for new deals after three years, a fact which has proven to be beneficial for the Raiders’ Derek Carr and, despite the drama, for the Raiders, as they can secure what turned out to be their franchise quarterback a year before they could with first-round picks.
The Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. and the Rams’ Aaron Donald have found themselves in the same boat as Shazier, having also been selected in the first round of the 2014 draft. Neither will become a free agent until 2019 and, despite being among the league’s best young talent, are limited in their options to earn more money on their current teams. Both are attempting to restructure their contracts to be more in line with other players at the top of their respective positions, but such changes have been rare.
“Very few times in our profession do you get to transition with a boss that you know and understand how he wants things to be done--then to have the opportunity as a complete staff. Mike, Terry and I work really well together. We take a lot of pride in that.”
It is not a new thing for head coaches to bring along assistants when they move to new positions with new teams. However, Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann opted to bring all three of his assistants over from Butler when he was named head coach in Columbus. Last season, in their only year as an intact coaching staff, the group earned a second-place finish in the Big East and made it all the way to the Sweet 16 before falling to North Carolina, the eventual tournament champions. Ryan Pedon, Mike Schrage and Terry Johnson have already arrived on campus and gotten to work after signing contracts which will collectively pay more than $1 million annually.
Johnson was at Butler for 10 years before moving to Columbus, and was part of both of the Bulldog’s runs to the national title game in 2010 and 2011. And while he couldn’t quite get Butler all the way to a title during those two seasons, he did gain valuable experience travelling deep into the NCAA Tournament--something that he can bring and translate in Columbus.
Pedon himself is from Bexley. While at Butler, he was Holtmann’s top recruiter, even bringing several players from Ohio across the border to play in Indianapolis. He has also had assistant coaching roles at Toledo and Miami (Ohio), giving him significant knowledge of the recruiting landscape in his home state, which should prove a valuable asset for Ohio State.
Schrage, meanwhile, has worked for the best during his career, starting out as a student manager under Bob Knight at Indiana before moving to a series of administrative roles at Duke under Coach K himself. Prior to joining Butler’s staff, Schrage worked as an assistant coach at Stanford. Though he only worked with Holtmann for a year in Indianapolis, he brings significant experience from top programs with him in his new role.
“As for men’s basketball, the coach must be able to deal with the pressure that comes with being at Ohio State, a program that has good history, while also recognizing that his group will always be second fiddle to the king in town, the football program.”
Few schools are able to financially support major football and basketball programs simultaneously. Florida managed such a feat just a decade ago, earning national titles in both sports in 2006. However, many schools must ultimately choose which program will be their flagship between the two sports.
But Ohio State is in a unique position, bringing historical success in both programs and an athletic department capable of funding both to a high degree. Urban Meyer is the third-highest paid football coach in the NCAA, and Chris Holtmann’s expected $3.1 million salary is also close to the top among Division I basketball coaches.
Along with the high salaries, however, come high expectations for both sports’ fan bases. Football’s success is familiar, as the team has made the College Football Playoff in two-of-three years since its inception and earned a national championship in recent memory. Fans demand similar success year in and year out, and Meyer has proven capable of handling the pressure of being a consistent top-five team.
Basketball, however, is somewhat removed. The team has struggled in the last two seasons, failing to make the NCAA Tournament in either and this year even being snubbed an invitation to the NIT. And while fans don’t have to go too far back to remember successful basketball teams in Columbus (the program made it to the Sweet 16 for four-straight years from 2010-2013), it has been easy to forget in the past couple seasons that Thad Matta was Ohio State basketball’s winningest coach.
Hence comes the pressure that faces Holtmann, not only to right-track the basketball program, but also to do so while living in the shadow of the football program. Meyer has acknowledged that he and Matta always had a great relationship, and says that he looks “forward to working with” Holtmann--a sentiment echoed by the new coach.
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