Ability to Spot Talent

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Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 01/08/2012 12:22 PM

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Meyer’s Coaching Tree Suggests Ability to Spot Talent
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio —  If Urban Meyer wants to be like his mentor, Earle Bruce, he is well on his way.

Of course Bruce never quite enjoyed the kind of success Meyer has achieved at the top of the college football profession—wining two national championships in six seasons at Florida.

Bruce’s lasting legacy on the sport, however, will be the men who served under him, learned under him and carried the spirit of Earle Bruce—known for his passion and intensity—on to varying levels of greatness across the football landscape.

That list starts with Meyer, who cracked into the coaching profession as a graduate assistant under Bruce in 1986, but it hardly stops there. The list of former assistants who coached under Bruce in the 1970’s and ‘80’s also includes names like Pete Carroll, Dom Capers, Mark Dantonio, Glen Mason, Nick Saban and Jim Tressel.

Meyer has only been in the profession as a head coach for 10 seasons, but already he has developed a coaching tree that could rival almost anyone in the country—although few can touch Earle Bruce.

Both of Meyer’s coordinators—Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong—from his national championship teams are now head coaches with promising futures. Mullen left Florida to take over the program at Mississippi State in 2009 and Strong followed suit a year later to become the head coach at Louisville.

Strong had been a holdover from the Ron Zook days, but Meyer also added Greg Mattison to his staff as co-defensive coordinator when he took the job at Florida. Mattison had been the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, where Meyer coached as an assistant before his Bowling Green days.

Mattison helped Meyer beat the Buckeyes in the 2007 BCS title game, and he did the same for Brady Hoke in 2011 as the first-year defensive coordinator at Michigan. Prior to this season, he served in the same capacity with the Baltimore Ravens.

Tim Beckman, his defensive coordinator at Bowling Green, is now the new head coach at the University if Illinois, after three seasons running the Toledo football program. Like Strong, Beckman was a holdover from the previous regime, but Meyer saw enough promise in him to retain him as defensive coordinator despite Bowling Green’s 2-9 record the previous season.

Much like he has at Ohio State, Meyer brought in his own offensive coordinator—a guy by the name of Gregg Brandon, who had served as the receivers coach and passing-game coordinator at Colorado under Gary Barnett. 

Brandon was the coach who replaced him when he left for Utah in 2003.

The same happened with Kyle Whittingham, his defensive coordinator at Utah and another holdover from the previous administration, when Meyer left to take the head-coaching job at Florida in 2005.

Everywhere he has gone, Meyer has made it an absolute priority to hire great, up-and-coming, assistant coaches.

“The formula is real simple. Go recruit some really good players that know how to compete, are tough, go surround them with the best coaches in the country,” he said in his introductory press conference at Ohio State.

“You usually find a way to win a few games.”

When Meyer left Florida, the Gators opted to look outside the program at Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp—a Gainesville native who had been tabbed as the “coach in waiting” behind Mack Brown.

By then, much of Meyer’s trusted staff was out on its own. Associate head coach Doc Holliday—who coached the safeties under Meyer at Florida—had taken the head coaching job at Marshall after a brief stint at West Virginia, his alma mater.

That left Steve Addazio, who had taken over as Meyer’s offensive coordinator after Mullen left for Mississippi State. Addazio was a bright coach with a ton of experience as an assistant, but very little as a head coach. He wasn’t the kind of guy Florida was going to look at as Meyer’s replacement, but it didn’t take him long to find a new home.

Addazio was hired as the replacement to Al Golden at Temple, and he led the Owls to a 9-4 season in 2011, including a win over Wyoming in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. He took with him long-time defensive assistant Chuck Heater to be his defensive coordinator.

Dan McCarney, who had served as Meyer’s defensive line coach in 2010, was hired as the new head coach at the University of North Texas.

That makes eight current head coaches in Division I football who coached, at one point or another, under Meyer. Not all of them got their start working for Meyer, but every one of them was hired by Ohio State’s current head coach at some point during his career, whether it be at Bowling Green, Utah or Florida.

Here is a look at Meyer’s extended coaching tree, which is one of the most extensive in the country.

Urban Meyer’s Coaching Tree:

Dan Mullen (Florida, 2005-08) – Mississippi State Head Coach

Charlie Strong (Florida, 2005-09) – Louisville Head Coach

Tim Beckman (Bowling Green, 2001-02) – Illinois Head Coach

Kyle Whittingham (Utah, 2003-04) – Utah Head Coach

Doc Holliday (Florida 2005-07) – Marshall Head Coach

Steve Addazio (Florida, 2005-10) –  Temple Head Coach

Dan McCarney (Florida, 2008-10) – North Texas Head Coach

Gary Anderson (Utah, 2004) – Utah State Head Coach

Greg Mattison (Florida, 2005-07) – Michigan Defensive Coordinator

Chuck Heater (Florida, 2005-10) –  Temple Defensive Coordinator

Greg Studrawa (Bowling Green, 2001-02) – LSU Offensive Line Coach/Interim Offensive Coordinator

Brian White (Florida, 2009-10) – Florida Interim Offensive Coordinator

Gregg Brandon (Bowling Green, 2001-02) – Wyoming Offensive Coordinator

Billy Gonzales (Florida, 2005-09) – LSU Receivers Coach

John Hevesy (Florida, 2005-08) – Mississippi State Offensive Line Coach

Stan Drayton (Florida, 2005-07, 10) – Ohio State Running Backs Coach

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