Following this morning’s announcement that Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer would be retiring following Jan. 1’s Rose Bowl, and that current offensive coordinator Ryan Day would become the head coach thereafter, one of the first questions that many had was what types of changes Day would make to his staff.
Almost immediately we learned that under Day the core off-field staff will be sticking around.
If you're just waking up to the Meyer retirement news, I've learned that Ryan Stamper (off-field player development), Mickey Marotti (strength coach), Mark Pantoni (recruiting) and Brian Voltolini (football operations are all staying at OSU. Those are Meyer's key people.— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) December 4, 2018
Anyone who follows the team knows just how valuable people like Marotti, Pantoni, Stamper, and Voltolini have been to the development of the program during Meyer’s tenure, and having them onboard during the transition will be incredibly important.
With that apparently decided, we turn our attention onto the field and start to think about what current members of the Ohio State coaching staff could stick with Day. I would guess that the vast majority of the staff will return for 2019. By promoting a coordinator who has strong ties to the current staff, I would not be surprised if the entire staff is retained, to be honest, but there are a lot of factors to take into consideration.
In addition to the on-field impact that a coach has, there are also recruiting concerns, program management and game-planning implications, and countless other things that go into making these types of decisions.
You also have to consider that there is natural attrition among college coaching staffs, and coaches leave for other opportunities all the time, so these decisions obviously won’t be completely Day’s to make. Without being inside the program, there’s no way to fully gauge how those things will impact the final decisions, but from an outsider’s perspective, let’s try anyway.
Coaches that I Expect to Return
Greg Schiano: Associate Head Coach | Defensive Coordinator
Despite what many Ohio State fans might want, barring a head coaching job elsewhere, or an NFL coordinator position, I would assume that Schiano will be back in Columbus in 2019. During the time that Meyer was suspended to start the 2018 season, Schiano was incredibly important to Day’s development as the interim head coach, and I would think that Day would like to keep Schiano’s experience and insight close at hand, especially since Day will be a first time head coach with no defense experience.
Kevin Wilson: Offensive Coordinator | Tight Ends
This one feels similar to the Schiano situation, where having someone that Day trusts in this position could be very helpful. Also, despite running the zone-read in his first few years at Ohio State, Wilson was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma from 2002-2010. Those years saw the prolific passing offenses that had Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford at the helm. So, Day and Wilson do have similar offensive philosophies and experiences that could ease the transition.
Brian Hartline: Interim Wide Receivers Coach
I would think that this is the first non-coordinator that Day locks up. Hartline stepped into a difficult situation at the start of the season, and has guided one of the best receiving corps in Ohio State history. Obviously he benefited from the group being veteran-laden, and having the most prolific passing quarterback in Big Ten history throwing to them, but the development that the unit showed during his one season as their coach was startling, and I would guess that should Hartline want to return, the full-time position is his.
Coaches that Could Go Either Way
Alex Grinch: Co-Defensive Coordinator | Safeties
This one will be interesting to me. When Grinch was brought onto the staff, it was with incredibly high expectations. The move was likely made — at least in part — under the assumption that Schiano could leave for a head coaching position sometime in the near future.
Also, even before the controversies around Meyer’s suspension, many felt that Day was a potential replacement whenever the head coach left the program. But, I for one, thought that should Day leave Columbus before Meyer did, that Grinch — a Central Ohio native — could be the “next man up.”
If Schiano stays, Grinch will again be a co-coordinator with practically no opportunity to become head coach at Ohio State. Will a young coach who had a lot of juice a year ago want to stay in Columbus? I don’t know, but will be worth following.
Larry Johnson: Assistant Head Coach | Defensive Line
Look, if Johnson wants to keep coaching at Ohio State, he will undoubtedly have a job at Ohio State for as long as he wants it. But, I think with the change to a younger head coach, it could cause Johnson — who is in his mid-60s — to re-evaluate. He is still incredibly energetic, and invaluable on the recruiting trail, but I didn’t feel wholly comfortable just assuming that he’d sign on again under Day (but man do I hope he does).
Greg Studrawa: Offensive Line Coach
Coach Stud has been the subject of a lot of discussion this season, as people have questioned the lack of run-blocking ability from his unit. However, the Buckeyes were 17th nationally in sack rate (3.6%), and their protection was a big part of why Dwayne Haskins was able to complete 43 touchdown passes when “kept clean,” the most in the country, according to Pro Football Focus.
However, Studrawa has only been at Ohio State for one season longer than Day, and might have come into his job in Columbus thinking that he would be operating a different scheme than he presumably will be under Day. After all, he did come from the run-focused Les Miles program at LSU. Despite criticism this season, Stud’s units have been strong in his three years in Columbus, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Day brings him back.
Coaches that I Do Not Expect to Return
Tony Alford: Assistant Head Coach for Offense | Running Backs
Alford has been an integral part of Ohio State’s success since coming over from Notre Dame in 2015, especially on the recruiting trail. However, in that time, the running game has either been dominated by quarterback J.T. Barrett, or a bit underwhelming as it was this year. Now, obviously those things are not necessarily all Alford’s fault or even a bad thing (in the case of Barrett), but with Day now presumably wanting to run a more pass-heavy offense for the foreseeable future, I could imagine a situation where his style just doesn’t line up with Alford’s, and Day could go in a different direction with the position, or Alford could choose to explore an opportunity elsewhere.
Coach(es) that Better Not Return
Billy Davis: Linebackers Coach
Do I really even need to explain this one? If Day brings back Davis, I will immediately write an article saying that Day needs to be fired (I’m only partially kidding about this).