Today’s Topic: Who Was Ryan Day’s Most Underrated Hire?
During last week’s episode of the Buckeye Weekly podcast, Tom Orr and I talked a bit about Ryan Day’s new hires and we both agreed that it is much too early to pass judgment on who was brought in. After all, they haven’t even screwed up yet. Let’s give them some time before we berate them for their insolence.
But the topic above was submitted by a reader and it’s different than wanting any sweeping judgments. It’s asking a bit of a different question about new hires Mike Yurcich, Greg Mattison, Matt Barnes, Jeff Hafley, and Al Washington. We’re not talking about if these are good hires or bad hires, we’re talking about which of them is the most underrated.
As an aside, Ohio State still hasn’t announced Ryan Day’s full and complete staff, which is unusual and could lead some to think there’s a reason things haven’t been finalized yet. The defense is settled, and we believe the offensive staff is settled as well, but it is peculiar that there has been no announcement. Expect something this week, however.
But as to the question at hand, which of these guys is the most underrated?
This is a difficult question because most of the new hires are on the defensive side of the ball and we have no idea what kind of defense the Buckeyes are going to employ next season. Until we speak with Day, we’re mostly talking about a guessing game.
Off the bat, we can eliminate Mike Yurcich because there is nothing underrated about coaching the quarterbacks. It’s the superstar position in sports and the coach of that position is a star by association. Yurcich was a hot commodity and if he ends up underrated, then Buckeye fans are going to be over the moon.
Greg Mattison may not have a position to coach, but he’s too well known to be underrated. He will help out in the front seven and on the recruiting trail. Buckeye fans may be too excited about Al Washington to mark him as underrated. He has recruiting chops and coached an All-American this past season.
Co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley is mostly an unknown to Buckeye fans, so he’s a good candidate to be the most underrated. With a more recent history in the NFL, however, there may be some suspicion given what the last couple of NFL defensive coaches brought to Columbus.
For me, I’m going to go with Matt Barnes. He is listed as the special teams coordinator and assistant secondary coach. We don’t know yet how his responsibilities will shake out, but he has been a fast riser. Three seasons ago he was a defensive analyst at Michigan and from 2012-2014 he was a graduate assistant at Florida.
Barnes has also produced. As Maryland’s linebackers coach last year, he helped Tre Watson become a First-Team All-Big Ten selection who led the league with 9.5 tackles per game.
The Terps had a middle-of-the-road run defense last season, but they played in arguably the best division in college football. Barnes also called plays for Maryland last season, so he can offer experience in that way as well.
So, without even knowing exactly what Matt Barnes will be doing, I think he might just be the most underrated hire for Ryan Day.