When Tom Herman left Ohio State for Houston, we saw the impact that a departing coordinator can have on the Buckeye football program. Urban Meyer is still trying to get things righted, though the expectations are justifiably high for what Kevin Wilson will bring to Ohio State this year.
On the other side of the ball, however, the Buckeyes must now replace long-time coordinator Luke Fickell, and Meyer and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano are doing everything they can to make sure that it doesn’t take another two years to get the defensive staff where it needs to be.
The good news is that Fickell’s replacement — Billy Davis — was with the team last year and is familiar with how the place operates. He also has a ton of experience, which is expected to allow him to step right in, which in turn allows the entire defense to stay pointed in the proper direction.
“Defensively, with Billy Davis, he takes over and he’s coaching the linebackers and really nothing has changed,” Schiano said. “We go about our business the same way. We work together. I’ve said it many times, in that room we have such experienced coaches. Larry Johnson, Kerry Coombs, those guys, and now with Billy Davis, who has coached in the NFL for over 25 years, you’re talking about really, really fine, experienced coaches. It’s a pleasure to work with them, and we’ve got a big challenge ahead of us because we lost some really good players and we need to get it going.”
One big thing that the OSU defense has going for it is the fact that the defense has never been a dictatorship. In fact, last year Meyer said that he thought of all four of his defensive coaches as “coordinators” because of the way that they worked together.
Now with Fickell off to his own program at Cincinnati and Davis taking over for him, you might think some of that dynamic has changed, but you’d be wrong.
“None. No different,” Schiano said. “Really it wasn’t Luke and I bouncing ideas, it was all four of us, always. You’re talking about Larry Johnson, the best defensive line coach in America. He’s turned down coordinator jobs right and left. This is a special place. People come here and stay here for a reason. Kerry Coombs is one of the elite recruiters, one of the elite coaches. Look at what these guys have done. He chooses to be here and stay here. Billy (Davis) is an experienced coach.
“So to me it has always been a four-way conversation that we always come to a consensus. Now I’m not saying we don’t disagree sometimes, but if there wasn’t, we’d really be in trouble, right? You want guys that have strong opinions. But at the end of the day, we always come back to what’s best for Ohio State football. It’s not always like that, I can tell you. I’ve been places where it isn’t. It’s a really good working environment.”