Former OSU DC Heacock Hangs Up Whistle
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After 41 seasons on the college sideline, including the last 16 at Ohio State, Jim Heacock announced his retirement on Wednesday.
The 63-year old Heacock was hired by former OSU head coach John Cooper in 1996, and he spent the last eight seasons as the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator. He was also the defensive line coach for Jim Tressel’s BCS National Championship team in 2002, but decided the time was right for him to call it quits after more than four decades of coaching.
“My family has been following me around the country while I did what I wanted to do and what I enjoyed doing. I feel like its time for me to give back a little bit,” he said while appearing on The Buckeye Show on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus.
“I just wasn’t ready to pick up and move again.”
Heacock was one of only three assistant coaches retained by Tressel when he took over as the head football coach at Ohio State in 2001. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2005, but Heacock was not retained by new OSU head coach Urban Meyer, who opted instead to promote Luke Fickell to defensive coordinator.
Known as one of the better defensive minds in the game, Heacock admitted that he considered some job offers after he was let go by Ohio State after the Gator Bowl loss to Florida.
After the bowl game, Heacock told The-Ozone he still had a desire to coach, and his name was rumored as a possibility at both Washington and Illinois. In the end, Heacock decided it was time to move on to the next chapter of his life.
“After the bowl game in January, I was kind of debating whether to move on in coaching or hang up the whistle and do something else,” he said Wednesday after the news first broke on Bucknuts.com.
“About February, I came to the conclusion the timing was right. I had 41 good years in coaching and 16 great ones here at Ohio State.”
From 2005-10, Heacock’s defenses were among the best in the country. He was awarded the Frank Broyles National Assistant Coach of the Year award in 2007, a year in which the Buckeyes finished first nationally in scoring defense, total defense and pass defense.
He helped the Buckeyes to seven-straight Big Ten championships and seven-straight BCS bowl games, which included some of the best teams Tressel ever put on the field. The 2010 season would later be vacated after it was revealed that Tressel knowingly played ineligible players during the regular season.
The University was thrown into upheaval after Tressel was forced to resign in May of last year, and Fickell, who had served as Heacock’s linebackers coach, was promoted to interim head coach. It was a tough time for everyone within the program, especially those who had close relationship with Tressel.
Despite the turmoil surrounding Ohio State, Heacock maintains he never thought about walking away from at all.
“I really didn’t have any thoughts of retiring at that time,” he said.
“We were pretty locked into what we were trying to accomplish in working with the staff.”
The Buckeyes suffered a rough 6-7 season in 2011, including their first loss to Michigan since 2003. They also lost the bowl game after it was announced that Urban Meyer would be the 24th head coach in school history.
If he decides to stay retired (in other words, if he can continue to fight the itch), Heacock will always be remember as the architect of some of Ohio State’s best defenses. He said he will always remember the players; guys like Will Smith and Cameron Heyward, who helped to make Ohio State’s defense what it has become over the years.
“Two games that stand out performance wise were the two Rose Bowls,” he added.
“Going to those two games and having the opportunity to win those two games, and of course the national championship game came out of nowhere. All the wins against Michigan. We had a little bit of a run there at the end and that was special.”
So was Heacock. He was one of the good guys in the game.
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