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In Grinch and Johnson, Ohio State has found two guys that want to be Buckeyes

Also, despite what you might have heard, Chris Holtmann is not the third-highest paid coach in college basketball.

Arkansas Spring Game Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

“‘When coach gave me a call, I was surprised because all you may do and all the help you may get (in pursuing a job), you never know until the end’ whether it will work out, Johnson said. ‘I couldn’t be more excited.’”

-Taver Johnson, via Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch

One of the things that Urban Meyer has said repeatedly since he got to Columbus was that he wanted to bring in guys that wanted to be in Columbus; wanted to be at Ohio State. One of the reasons that he famously got burnt out at the University of Florida was that because of the constant recruiting battles in the state, and in the SEC, he had to take fliers on guys with dubious character just to remain competitive.

From day one at OSU, Meyer has sought to only bring in players— and coaches— who shared his vision of the program and wanted to live up to the expectations of being a Buckeye. In the hiring of new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Alex Grinch and cornerbacks and special teams coach Taver Johnson, it appears that he has found two individuals that want just that.

On Wednesday, the new hires met the Buckeye beat for the first time, and it was clear that when the opportunity presented itself, both wanted to be nowhere else but Columbus. Grinch mentioned the fact that he grew up in Grove City and that his wife is from Alliance. He also played his college football at DIII power Mount Union; he called Ohio home. That was a huge part of his decision to leave Washington State.

For Johnson, his hiring was also a return. The former Purdue and Temple assistant was on Jim Tressel’s staff beginning in 2007, and left after Luke Fickell’s interim season in 2011. However, when he heard that Kerry Coombs was leaving OSU for the NFL, he reached out to Meyer, who had been an assistant coach at Notre Dame when Johnson was a graduate assistant. Clearly, with his experience with Meyer and at OSU, Johnson knew he wanted to be a part of this staff.

Not only are both coaches in a place that they want to be, but they are stepping into incredibly important coaching responsibilities as well. Together they will oversee the Buckeyes’ defensive secondary, which has been the backbone of the team’s success in recent years. It will undoubtedly help as they mold and recruit Buckeye DBs to be all-in on what Ohio State means and expects.

“No, Chris Holtmann isn’t the third-highest-paid coach nationally.”

-Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch

When this graphic came out from USA TODAY on Wednesday, something about it certainly didn’t make sense. As we discussed way back in June, while Holtmann’s assistants were certainly getting a substantial pay raise from what they were making at Butler, the salaries for Holtmann and company weren’t anywhere near the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, or even someone named Larry Krystkowiak who coaches at Utah.

The source of the confusion is that the total quoted by the paper includes the one-time, lump-sum buyout of Holtmann’s Butler contract (including nearly $2 million in taxes). So, despite the USA Today’s oddly laid out table, as Jardy explains, the actual total for Holtmann, including incentives and deferred payments, is actually around the $3 million mark. That number is just under what Gregg Marshall, who was almost the coach at OSU while Holtmann was playing hard to get, makes at Wichita State.

Holtmann’s base salary is $2.7 million, which would put him in line with coaches like Oregon’s Dana Altman, Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin, Maryland’s Mark Turgeon, Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams (another rumored candidate for the OSU job), and Illinois’ Brad Underwood.

However, I think that at this point, it is needless to say that should Holtmann be able to continue the trajectory that he currently has his team on, it is quite likely that he could be looking to renegotiate or extend his contract under new terms sooner rather than later.

“Who all is going to be protecting the next quarterback? The Buckeyes have recruited much better up front over the last couple years and appear to have some nice depth now added to the mix, but the offensive line might be the toughest unit to peg down for starters across the board at this point.”

-Austin Ward, Land of 10

There is no doubt that the Ohio State offensive line has had its ups and downs in recent years (although it hasn’t been down enough to prevent Michigan from recruiting based on OSU’s successes at the position). However, as Ward points out, while looking to fill three spots— starting at the center and moving right— there are a lot of options heading into the 2018 season. So, projecting the starters is more difficult than it has been in recent years.

Returners Isaiah Prince and Michael Jordan are firmly entrenched on the left side. Branden Bowen will presumably be healthy by the fall, following a fractured fibula suffered in the game against Maryland. Should he be back in time, he is almost certainly going to be in the starting lineup somewhere on the right side. From there, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the other two spots will be filled by Thayer Munford, Wyatt Davis, Josh Myers, Brady Taylor, Matthew Burrell, or anyone else.

But, the key will be for Urban Meyer, offensive coordinators Greg Schiano and Ryan Day, and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa to settle on a rotation as soon as possible. As there will be enough in flux breaking in a new starting quarterback, it won’t be pretty if the guys protecting him haven’t had time to mesh before the Buckeyes head down to Jerry’s World to face Gary Patterson’s TCU defense.