“I think Ohio State deserves the best group of assistant coaches in America.”
Those were the words of Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer at his introductory press conference on Nov. 28, when discussing his vision for the coaching staff that he would assemble at OSU.
That staff, whose combined salary hired is just under $3.5 million, was officially introduced to the media Thursday afternoon, as six new faces joined four coaches retained from the 2011 staff. Ten of the 11 coaches, including Meyer, have some sort of past connection to the Buckeyes or the state of Ohio.
Meyer said that’s not a coincidence.
“I’m from Ohio,” Meyer said. “I know that this one cuts real deep when it’s your home state.”
Tom Herman will take over as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the same positions he held at Iowa State for the past three seasons. Meyer said that Herman, who was born in Cincinnati but grew up in California, will be the primary play-caller for the Buckeyes, but with one exception.
“I’ll be veto guy,” Meyer said.
Ed Warinner, an Ohio native with degrees from Mount Union College and the University Akron, will be the offensive line coach while also serving as co-offensive coordinator and running game coordinator. He most recently served as offensive line coach at Notre Dame for the past two years.
Stan Drayton, who served as the Buckeyes’ wide receivers coach last season, moves to running backs coach as Zach Smith, the grandson of former OSU coach Earle Bruce, takes over the wide receivers. Both coached alongside Meyer during his time at the University of Florida.
Tim Hinton, a former Ohio high school football coach who served as running backs coach at Notre Dame last season, will coach tight ends and fullbacks, rounding out the offensive staff.
The defensive coaching staff has much less turnover, with only one new assistant coach.
Last year’s head coach Luke Fickell remains on staff as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, while Mike Vrabel slides from linebackers coach to defensive line coach. Taver Johnson, entering his sixth season at OSU, will continue to coach the defensive backs.
The new addition is Everett Withers, who served as interim head coach at the University of North Carolina last season. He will take the role of co-defensive coordinator, assistant head coach and safeties coach.
Withers said he and Fickell will mesh “very well” together.
“I think it’s always good when you have a chance to be around somebody else that’s done it, is doing it, that you can put ideas together,” Withers said. “I’ve always thought that two heads are better than one.”
The final addition to the Meyer’s staff is Mickey Marotti, who earned a master’s degree from OSU in 1988 and was director of strength and conditioning at Florida for the past seven years. He will have the title of assistant athletic director for sports performance, and Marotti has already begun leading the players through off-season workouts, a week earlier than planned.
“We were getting antsy,” Marotti said. “It’s time to go.”
Now that it’s finalized, is this the best coaching staff in the nation?
“The one thing about our profession is that it’s very evaluation friendly, so I can’t (say) that right now,” Meyer said. “But I’m very pleased with it.”