When the NCAA adopted a new rule allowing for a tenth assistant coach one year ago, it opened up some new options for head coaches around the country heading in 2018.
Initially, there were thoughts that many schools would use the position for recruiting purposes. Ohio State, however, has used it to level out the number of offensive coaches and defensive coaches.
Urban Meyer and his staff — like most places around the country — have used five offensive assistants and four defensive assistants. With the hire of safeties coach Alex Grinch this past winter, the Buckeyes have now evened out their coaching staff.
Grinch’s arrival has freed up defensive coordinator Greg Schiano from the safeties duties he had his first two seasons with the Buckeyes. Schiano can now roam around from defensive position to defensive position, helping out wherever he is needed.
“The addition of the tenth coach allows me to do that and I can fill in where we need a little help,” he said. “So take one of the linebackers does a different job than the other two, I can help there, or I can help whatever position is needed. So I’m kind of the roamer. But it allows me to have a better understanding of where our guys are with the comfort level with things, and different techniques.
“And I think hopefully it should have an effect on how you call it because if you know a guy’s not real comfortable with a technique, you’ll wait until they get comfortable. Not that you couldn’t do that before, but when you actually see it with your own eyes sometimes, it helps.”
Don’t get it wrong, though. Schiano is not some defensive vagabond, wandering around from hostile to hovel. He sets out his day well in advance of his first step onto the practice field. And whatever you do, don’t refer to his new process as “floating.”
“Floating kind of sounds like you’re just walking about. I detail a practice schedule,” he said. “I’m going to help Coach Davis during the first half of this period and I’m going to go down and help Coach Taver Johnson and then maybe go with Coach Grinch or something. With Coach Johnson, I’ll take the ends and do some stuff with them. So wherever I’m needed. I’m kind of like the spare.”
As a head coach at Tampa Bay and Rutgers, Schiano still spent time with the defense, touching base, teaching, and advancing his players in areas of need. Now as the defensive coordinator without a position of his own to call home, he can do it again. And so far, he likes his new role.
“I do. I like to be able to see everything,” he said. “There’s always repercussions that you don’t see. So I get to jump around from meeting room to meeting room. Before we do all this, I meet for a good amount of time on every detail. So I get to jump around, and I can grab kids individually that maybe need to get — equate the meeting room a little bit, where I can grab a guy that’s a little behind and not burden the position coach with it.
“So there’s a lot of positives to it. There’s a lot of good reasons to have a tenth assistant coach, safety being the first. But it kind of evens it. Usually there’s five on offense and four on D. So now there’s five and five. That’s a good thing.”