When a new offensive or defensive coordinator joins a college football team, that generally means some changes are coming as well.
Depending on the reason for the new hire, those changes can be dramatic or slight.
When Urban Meyer replaced defensive coordinator Everett Withers with Chris Ash following the 2013 season, Ash brought with him an entirely new defensive system.
When Meyer replaced offensive coordinators Ed Warinner and Tim Beck with Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson following the 2016 season, tweaks were made, but the offense remained familiar.
Replacing a coordinator who was extremely successful is what the Buckeyes have faced this offseason with former defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley’s departure to Boston College. Kerry Coombs has now been back in Columbus for four months, but there is no need for a major overhaul. There is, however, a need for Coombs to meld his staff and get the most out of each of them when it comes to devising what the Buckeyes will be doing on defense in 2020.
“I think that’s one of the things that I even brought it up in the meeting, just to tell you how our meeting went. I said I thought one of the things couple years ago when I had an opportunity to come here was to look at what we were doing on offense. And I had a playbook this big coming from the NFL, too. But that wasn’t right,” Day said recently.
“One of the things we added was the crossing package. And that was the right fit at the right time. And I said that to Kerry, whatever those things are or whatever in Greg [Mattison’s] past or whatever in Larry [Johnson’s] past or Al [Washington] or Matt Barnes, whatever those things are with who we have, that’s the key to coaching. It’s not just coming in and running blitzes or running coverages because you think that’s a great coverage or a great blitz. It’s what fits our personnel and what puts our guys in best position to be successful.”
Coombs brought with him a very large NFL playbook, just as Day did when he came to Ohio State from San Francisco. And while OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson may not have come from the NFL, few coaches in college football have succeeded in as many different offenses as he has.
College players can be overwhelmed by scheme, which Day likely saw first-hand with the Buckeyes’ defense in 2018.
The key isn’t cramming as many things into a playbook as possible, it’s finding the right fits and plays for the coaches and players. That is the message Day is passing on to his coordinators.
“It’s like the way Kevin and I did it and the way they’ve done it in the past, last year with Jeff and Greg. I sat and had a great meeting with Larry, with Greg and with Kerry and just told them about how much respect I have for their experience and whatever it is, they’re going to go in that room figure that out again this year,” Day said.
“Like I say all the time, in college football, every year is a completely different year. You have to go in and figure out what that year and what your personnel looks like and what the right things are, and they’re going to go in there and do that.”
As the title suggests, a coordinator’s job is to coordinate. They seek out ideas and information and then put them in place. The coordinator gets the credit or the blame, but Day’s advice is always to rely on the coaches around you.
“At the end of the day somebody has to walk out of that room with the final say and that will be Kerry. But they’re all professionals,” Day said. “They’re all going to have their hand in this thing, and they’re all team players and they’re all in this thing together, just like we are on offense.”