As Ohio State football enters the third month of the Urban Meyer era, recruiting is nearly finalized and the coaching staff has had several weeks to get acclimated to Columbus. The program now begins a shift in theme from transition to implementation.
New offensive coordinator Tom Herman will have a major hand in implementing coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense.
Although Herman and Meyer have no history of coaching together, Herman has spent the last seven years running the spread as an offensive coordinator, including the last three seasons at Iowa State. The Cyclones offense ranked 90th in the country with 22.7 points per game in 2011, but did post 37 points in a double-overtime upset of then-No. 2 Oklahoma State on Nov. 18.
Meyer said that of all the candidates for the position that he researched, the decision to hire Herman as a “no-brainer.”
“I wanted to have a guy that’s going to not have an ego, has a good understanding of our offense and be extremely intelligent to learn what we do and adapt it to what he does,” Meyer said at a Jan. 12 press conference.
Herman, who will make $420,000 in 2012, will be the primary play-caller for the Buckeyes. However Meyer said he will also have an influential role in directing the offense and will serve as the “veto guy.” It’s similar to the relationship that former coach Jim Tressel and former offensive coordinator Jim Bollman had in recent years.
No matter what play-calling capacity he is allowed, Herman said he is excited for the opportunity to coach at OSU.
“It wouldn’t matter if (Meyer) called every play on Saturday or if I called every play on Saturday,” Herman said. “This is the Ohio State University and this is an opportunity for me to learn from him and coach under him and be a part of his staff at this university … I’m like a pig in slop right now. It’s been awesome.
“What we’re going to do offensively is time-tested, it’s proven, it’s what they’ve been successful doing at many different stops for coach Meyer.”
Herman will also serve as quarterbacks coach and play a heavy role in adapting Miller to the new scheme.
Herman said it’s too early to make an accurate evaluation of Miller’s ability, but that the two have had conversations about the young signal-caller’s leadership responsibilities as the team’s starting quarterback.
“(Miller has) been tremendously receptive and tremendously respectful and eager to learn and be able to immerse himself in what we’re trying to accomplish here offensively and as a team,” Herman said.
As for the rest of the offense, Herman said he hasn’t had enough time to assess how well the current roster’s abilities mesh with the new offensive philosophy, but that it will be necessary for the players and coaches to adapt to each other as the team moves ahead into spring practices.
“It’s very foolish to try and fit a square peg into a round hole, so to speak,” Herman said. “Eventually you try to recruit to what your core beliefs are offensively. But when you’re in a transition phase like this, you’ve got to adapt yourself a little bit to what your players are capable of doing and can be most successful at.”