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Ohio State’s coaching transition looks a lot like Oklahoma’s

Consistency is key.

NCAA Football: Urban Meyer-Press Conference Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“The result in Norman was uninterrupted success, and all signs point to a similar level of enhanced continuity in Columbus.”

-Andy Staples, Sports Illustrated

This past spring, it would have seemed improbable that Urban Meyer would step down as head coach following this season, only to be replaced by a coordinator with no previous head coaching experience. And if something this unlikely occured, surely it would happen in the midst of a scandal, leading to an upheaval in recruiting, coaching and structure of the team.

Instead, what happened was a smooth transition of authority, from one well-respected coaching regime to a new one after a successful season which resulted in a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl berth. Somehow, Ryan Day is taking over as head coach, and nothing could have seemed like a more obvious result to this coaching change. While there was a lot of baggage carried over from the fall, the program seems more stable than ever—even with a new coach at the helm.

Changes are not normally this smooth. New coaches want to change schemes and recruiting practices. Old coaches may have stuck around for too long, leading to an ailing system without hope for a successful future. That’s not what seems to have happened here, and it seems to be a new experiment in college football. In fact, one recent and very successful transition was that of Lincoln Riley, who took over for Bob stoops following the latter’s retirement. The change was swift (though a surprise for players after the initial announcement), the team and university had buy in, and Riley opted to keep many of Stoops’ practices in place, at least for the short term.

Things could work out in a similar way for Ohio State. Day’s offense will likely remain the same. Brian Hartline is officially the permanent wide receivers coach. Changes may happen on defense, but a shake-up seemed likely even if Meyer stayed for another year. Maintaining consistency and avoiding the drama that comes with many coaching searches means that the Buckeyes won’t skip a beat this offseason.

“Would Haskins have loved to cap his season for Ohio State by becoming the program’s eighth Heisman winner? Of course. But when Haskins or any Buckeye fans look back at this season, they will all remember it as the incredible year that it was.”

-Patrick Murphy, 247Sports.com

If you deigned to watch the coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation over the weekend, and you didn’t happen to follow Ohio State, you might have fallen under the false impression that it was a two-candidate race between Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, who ultimately took home the prize, and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. After all, they’re the pair which received the most coverage and who, in the end, finished one and two in the voting.

However, there was in fact a third candidate invited to New York who himself had a spectacular season which was comparable to and, in some ways, exceeded those of the other finalists. Haskins concluded the season as the top quarterback in the country in both passing touchdowns and passing yards. And since the numbers themselves don’t tell the whole story, he did it while leading the Buckeyes to a massive win over a top-10 rival and another Big Ten Championship. That rival, by the way, was No. 1 in total defense when the pair squared off, making Haskins’ performance all the more impressive as he systematically picked apart Michigan. The redshirt sophomore completed 20-of-31 passing for 396 yards and six touchdowns with zero interceptions. He followed up that performance with a five-touchdown night against the Northwestern Wildcats.

The Heisman Trophy is meant to be awarded to the best player in college football, not the best player on the best team (or the best player in the field of College Football Playoff teams). However, the trio of quarterbacks was a fair representation of the high level of talent up for the award this season, and between Haskins, Murray and Tagovailoa, it would be hard to charge that the winner didn’t meet the criteria. Murray is well-deserving of the award, but it would have been nice to have seen Haskins receive the same consideration as the other finalists on the way in.

“It’s people spreading messages to further their own personal agenda. But I’m on record right here, right now: I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying at Michigan. We have big plans here, and there’s a lot we want to accomplish.”

-Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, via Adam Schefter, ESPN

In some of the best news of the weekend, Jim Harbaugh announced that he is not planning on pursuing one of the proliferating coaching vacancies in the NFL and is, in fact, planning on staying at Michigan for the long term. This news is obviously fantastic for Ohio State fans since, up to this point, Harbaugh has proven incapable of beating his rival. Of course, it’s difficult to call this Harbaugh’s problem, since Michigan coaches in general have not been able to beat Ohio State since the days of Lloyd Carr, with the exception of that one time in 2011 when Brady Hoke managed the feat in Luke Fickell’s season as interim. If it bears repeating, Ohio State has now won seven-straight against the Wolverines and 14 of the last 15.

The rhetoric is interesting especially since the Wolverine’s rivalry with Ohio State is clearly still top of mind among players, with defensive end Chase Winovich (who will graduate without ever having beaten Ohio State) calling the one-sided rivalry a “mirage” over the weekend. Winovich, who was the unofficial leader of Michigan’s “revenge tour,” had a total of four tackles against Ohio State in November.

Harbaugh’s name in the NFL head coaching rumor mill has become an annual occurrence. While Ohio State fans could point to his seeming inability to beat a rival, there was that year when Harbaugh made it to the Super Bowl with the 49ers (though he did ultimately fall to his brother). He ended his NFL coaching stint with a 44-19-1 record in San Francisco. Previously, he was certainly instrumental in leading Stanford to a turnaround, flipping the Cardinal’s 1-11 record to end at 12-1 in four seasons. He could be a great pickup for an NFL team, but Buckeye fans are happy to have him stay right where he is.

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