All this week, LGHL writers will be bring you articles focusing on their biggest and boldest predictions. Check out all of our “Bold Predictions” articles throughout the week HERE. Whether you disagree, let us know what you think in the comments below and on Twitter @Landgrant33.
Whenever a college football team has an opening at head coach, one of the first places they look to for a replacement is the Ohio State coaching staff. The trend picked up steam when Jim Tressel was head coach at Ohio State, and continued when Urban Meyer took over for Tressel.
After Jeff Hafley took over at Boston College and Greg Schiano returned to Rutgers following the 2019 season, Ohio State didn’t see any assistants move on to head coaching positions following the 2020 season. The Buckeyes shouldn’t get too comfortable with retaining assistant coaches since they have a number of young, talented minds currently on the coaching staff.
Today’s question: Which Ohio State assistant coach is next in line for a head coaching gig?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s pick: Linebackers coach Al Washington
So far Washington has been a smash hit as linebackers coach in Columbus. Not only did Washington come to Columbus from Michigan with former co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, but he also injected some life into a positional unit that had lost some of their swagger under Bill Davis, who only got the job because he was the best man at Urban Meyer’s wedding.
All you have to do to see just what kind of impact Washington can have on a program is look what he did with Malik Harrison. Prior to Washington’s arrival, Harrison wasn’t connecting with Davis, and looked lost in his limited opportunities on the field. Once Washington took over, Harrison started to live up to his high recruiting rankings, and went on to be drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The same type of scenario played out with Baron Browning last season, with Browning also being a third round pick in this year’s draft.
While it wasn’t for a head coaching job, Tennessee tried to lure Washington away from Ohio State when Josh Heupel took over as head coach in Knoxville. It’s easy to see why Heupel would want Washington to run his defense, but Washington decided the best place for him and his family at this time was to stay in Columbus. Unfortunately for Ohio State, more head coaching opportunities are likely going to come Washington’s way. The question is, will Washington hold out for an opportunity with a Power 5 school, or will he jump at a chance to take over at a Group of 5 university if they come calling?
Meredith’s pick: Wide receivers coach Brian Hartline
The assignment was “bold predictions,” and what’s bolder than a 34-year old wide receivers coach with just four years of coaching experience under his belt (and yes, that includes his season as a grad assistant) getting a shot at a head coaching role after this year?
We’ve talked extensively about the well-documented trend of fresh, young coaching talent who’s made it to the head coaching ranks. Ryan Day was in his late 30s when he took over as head coach in Columbus — by the way, his first head coaching role. Lincoln Riley is still in his 30s, and his only “head coaching” experience before Oklahoma was when he was associate head coach at East Carolina in 2014.
In fact, previous head coaching experience no longer seems to be a prerequisite for a major head coaching role, so it’s really not that ridiculous that a coach like Hartline would get an opportunity. It is plausible that Hartline might get picked up for a Group of Five coaching vacancy following the 2022 season.
And why not? Hartline effectively turned around the Ohio State wide receivers in short order. The Buckeyes had been struggling at the position for several seasons, with even great quarterbacks unable to capitalize on talent. While Justin Fields and Dwayne Haskins, yes, were a step above JT Barrett when it came to actual passing ability, the quarterbacks owe something to their receivers, and their receivers owe something to the improved schema socialized under Hartline’s regime in the wide receiver room.
Hartline is also a players’ coach. It wasn’t all that long ago that he was a standout receiver for the Buckeyes and a fourth-round pick by the Miami Dolphins. As a result, he has already become a prolific recruiter for the wide receiver position. Hartline has already reeled in a 2022 receiver class with four blue-chip recruits, and has brought in a total of nine top-100 recruits in just three recruiting cycles. Moreover, Hartline has made the talent standout on the field. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are entering the 2021 season as two of the nation’s top receivers.
In terms of his immediate future, the more realistic scenario is either a promotion to an NFL wide receivers coach position or an offensive coordinator job in the college ranks. With his already impressive resume, Hartline could even be poised to head to a top program as a coordinator sooner rather than later.
However, from his recruiting ability, talent in developing talent, his NFL resume and short time spent at a blue chip program, Hartline will be quite the catch in the coaching ranks...and maybe sooner than we think.