Urban Meyer, like most head coaches, always keeps a running list of assistant coaches at other schools that he may have an interest in hiring down the road.
Meyer’s list, however, has never needed to be accessed this close to the start of the college football season.
But with Monday’s firing of Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith, that’s exactly where he finds himself.
While there are undoubtedly résumés being sent in by the dozens, this is not an ideal time to bring in an unfamiliar coach.
With a veteran group of receivers, and a half dozen very young receivers on the roster as well, making the transition from Smith to the next coach as smooth as possible is of great concern to Meyer.
The good news is that if Meyer decides to keep the hire in-house, he likes the guys he already has on staff.
“I’ve been fortunate we’ve had very little — we’ve had turnover where people have gone on to become head coaches, or like Kerry Coombs decided to go to the NFL, but this is a unique situation,” he said on Tuesday.
“It’s also very unique I have the strength of young coaches I have on my staff. This is the best group of young coaches I’ve had on both sides of the ball. And they’re very involved with our preparation game plan and development of our players.”
A few of those coaches have experience with the wide receivers group.
Former Buckeye wideout Brian Hartline has been working with the receivers as a quality control coach since last season and by all accounts has done very well. Hartline’s coaching career began as a volunteer late in the 2016 season, but he found it to his liking. He was invited to be a quality control assistant last season and now could be in line to be a full-time assistant coach for his alma mater.
Corey Dennis is in his third season with the Buckeyes, but this is his first year in a quality control position. He is working with the quarterbacks and offensive coordinator Ryan Day. He had previously spent his time as a grad assistant working with the receivers. Dennis played wide receiver at Georgia Tech and he is Urban Meyer’s son-in-law.
Graduate assistant Keenan Bailey has also worked with the receivers, but it’s a big and rare step up to full-time assistant for a graduate assistant.
There is also another familiar name to keep in mind. Former Buckeye quarterback Kenny Guiton is now in his second season as the receivers coach at the University of Houston, and Meyer has spoken glowingly of Guiton’s future as a coach in the past.
Hartline appears to be the front runner, and it doesn’t appear that the wait to name Zach Smith’s replacement will take much longer.
“That decision will be made later in the week,” Meyer said on Tuesday. “Any speculation up to that point is certainly that. I have not even addressed my staff. I addressed several of our staff. It happened rather quickly. I get back tonight. Tomorrow we’ll have conversation. I’ll probably release something by the end of the week is what our plans are.”