Urban Meyer is one of the premier figures in college football. As such, assistant coaches around the country would do just about anything to be part of his program. When there is an opening on his staff, the résumés come rushing in like bingo balls in a retirement community. To expedite matters, Meyer keeps a running list of potential assistant coaches going at all times because he knows that at any moment his current staff could be shaken up by a new job offer.
Meyer’s coaching tree is pretty spectacular, populated with names like Tom Herman, Dan Mullen, Charlie Strong, Gary Andersen, Luke Fickell, and Kyle Whittingham. And, of course, we’ve got to pour one out in remembrance of Tim Beckman.
Urban Meyer has been putting coaching staffs together since his first head coaching gig at Bowling Green. For the most part, he has learned which coaches will work in his program and which coaches won’t.
During his current run at Ohio State, assistants have come and gone. Meyer has always eased through those coaching transitions, however. When Mike Vrabel left to take a job with the Houston Texans following the 2013 season, he brought in Larry Johnson to coach the defensive line. This proved to be a major advantage for OSU on the field and on the recruiting trail. In that same offseason, Meyer also brought in Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash. About one calendar year later, the Buckeyes went on to win the National Championship.
Those were sweeping changes on the defensive side of the ball, but it worked out. Now there are sweeping changes on the offensive side of the ball. How does Meyer plan on getting the same kind of results from new assistants?
“Just the clarity of everybody here,” Meyer said. “Everybody has been at some great places. They have great ideas. When you’re hiring a coaching staff at Bowling Green and you have 25-year old bobble heads, and you say ‘Do it this way,’ and they say, ‘Yes Coach,’ that’s easy. But you hire a 26-year veteran that’s done it his way for a while… but it’s all good. Everybody’s got good ways, but this is the way we do it.”
The Concern for Urban Meyer?
Meyer has admitted trepidation about hiring former head coaches before because of the possibility that they might be set in their ways. Despite those fears, he’s had some success with it, especially at Ohio State.
“Dan McCarney was the first head coach and I was so apprehensive about hiring him because all of a sudden someone tells me to start coaching a position, that would be tough,” he said. “I’d do it, but that would be tough. Dan McCarney was over the top, and that’s what made him a great coach. Greg Schiano was the second one, and now you hire a guy like Kevin Wilson. He used to do what I’m doing now and he’s just doing a marvelous job.”
When one coach leaves and another arrives, it is important for the new assistant to understand how things are done in the program and what is expected of them. Since Meyer landed in December of 2011, he and his staff have worked hard to create a thriving culture and environment for the student athletes. Things are to be done in the best interests of the program and players, and not necessarily the coaches.
“This is our culture, the 4-to-6, A-to-B, the competitive excellence, the power of the unit, there’s really not much negotiation and conversation about that,” Meyer said. “That’s my job to be clear in the front end of it too. We hired Tom Herman, all due respect, but we’re not hiring you to bring that offense here. We’re going to do what we do. That’s been really good. A lot of credit to the coaches.”