Photo courtesy of the OSU Athletic Department
As Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer went through the process of filling out his coaching staff, a common theme began to form. Whether by design or coincidence, almost all of the coaches on staff had Ohio roots, a history coaching at OSU or had worked with Meyer before.
Bill Sheridan is the biggest exception.
A Detroit native, Sheridan coached at Michigan for three years under Lloyd Carr. His son, Nick, played quarterback for Michigan from 2008-09. Many of Sheridan’s family and friends are Wolverine faithful.
Despite his strong connection to Michigan, the football tradition at OSU, coupled with Meyer’s success, made the Buckeyes an attractive destination, Sheridan said.
“That combination was very, very appealing,” Sheridan said during an exclusive interview with The Lantern.
As linebackers coach for the Miami Dolphins last season, Sheridan’s future was in doubt after coach Tony Sparano was fired in December. Sheridan began exploring other possible coaching options.
When former OSU defensive backs coach Taver Johnson left the Buckeyes to become the assistant head coach and linebackers coach at Arkansas in January, Sheridan said he saw an opportunity in Columbus.
In a Jan. 22 interview with The Lantern, Meyer seemed to suggest that Johnson left OSU because of the new title he now has as a member of the Razorbacks’ staff.
“I think anytime you start throwing titles around, I think that’s appealing to some people,” Meyer said. “(Johnson) had a very good relationship with a previous coach that was here … but the thing that made him go was to be the No. 2 in charge (at Arkansas).”
Sheridan reached out to OSU strength coach Mickey Marotti and offensive line coach Ed Warinner, both former colleagues, to see if Meyer had interest in bringing him back to the college game after Johnson left.
Meyer hired Sheridan as an assistant on Jan. 30, although without a specific role. Sheridan confirmed to The Lantern Tuesday that he will serve as cornerbacks coach for the Buckeyes. He will make $200,000 in 2012.
“(Sheridan’s) experiences in the NFL are huge. He has Midwest roots and, most importantly, he wants to be an Ohio State Buckeye. I am really impressed with him and I think he is going to be a terrific addition to our defensive staff as a coach, teacher and as a recruiter.”
In addition to Michigan, Sheridan has coached at Michigan State and Notre Dame, and acknowledged that his recruiting experience within the region will benefit the Buckeyes.
“I do have, being born and raised in the Midwest and having coached in this conference at two other institutions as well as Notre Dame, familiarity with not only the conference but more importantly the recruiting grounds that the majority of the conference recruits, whether Ohio or Michigan or that kind of stuff,” he said.
Sheridan has spent the last seven seasons in the NFL. Along with coaching linebackers for the Dolphins the past two seasons, Sheridan served in the same capacity with the New York Giants from 2005-08, where he was a part of New York’s Super Bowl victory in 2007. He was promoted to defensive coordinator prior to the 2009 season but was fired at the end of the year.
His college coaching resume also includes work at Army, Cincinnati and Maine.
Sheridan said coaching in the pros and coaching in college isn’t as different as many people perceive.
“The game itself, it’s really not that different other than the age of the players,” he said. “Having coached in the NFL for the last seven years, it’s just seven more years of coaching experience … I don’t think it would be dramatically different if I had coached in college for the seven years.”
Perhaps Sheridan’s biggest challenge in coming to OSU will be dealing with teasing from Michigan friends and family, including those closest to him.
“My wife (Jaycine) was initially giving me a hard time, but it’s all in good fun,” Sheridan said. “Obviously, my sincere friends and family are completely supportive of any professional move that I would have made.
“I’m sure the ribbing and the kidding and the joking about it will go on for quite a while.”
Pat Brennan contributed to this story.