Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
After each college football season, head coaches and their assistants at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level commence a game of musical chairs as they shuffle across America to new jobs at other programs. It’s a game that carries a tune ringing loudly on college campuses where the complexion of many coaching staffs seem to change on a yearly, sometimes monthly, basis. The phenomenon hasn’t impacted Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s current staff, but it’s likely to happen eventually.
One participant in the coaching migration this year is Tommy Tuberville, who departed postseason bowl-bound Texas Tech and was hired as the new coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats. In explaining his unexpected move from Texas Tech, an established Big 12 program, he captured the spirit of his decision by referring to himself and other coaches as “hired guns.”
Tuberville is right; there appears to be a fundamental shift in the emphasis of some coaches. The pursuit of top recruits, titles and on-field glory seems to be taking a backseat to the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar. That’s not to say that all coaches draw motivation solely from the number of zeroes on their paychecks. As Meyer said during a November press conference, coaches need to take care of their families.
“Continuity is a high priority, but I also understand the profession,” Meyer said. “I understand guys taking care of their families, and it is that part of the game that it’s a business.”
Whatever the rationale a coach might have for relocating to a new program, the simple fact is that students and fans should be sure to grab a copy of their football team’s preseason team photo and clutch it tight because the odds are that the row of coaches in that picture could look different the next time around.
Surprisingly, athletic departments around the country haven’t dipped into OSU’s arsenal of talented assistants. Not yet, anyway. The staff Meyer assembled prior to his first season at OSU has stuck together after compiling a 12-0 record, the sixth undefeated, untied season in program history. Meyer might have surprised even himself in pulling that off. He acknowledged during a November press conference that his assistants could be presented with opportunities to leave Columbus.
“One negative thing about success and hiring good coaches is that they’re hot items,” Meyer said.
If the career moves of other coaches around the country are any indication, Meyer will have trouble keeping the current OSU staff together down the line, especially when you consider that some members of his staff have already been shopping around the coaching job market.
Longtime OSU assistant and current wide receiver coach Stan Drayton, a holdover from the Jim Tressel-era when he worked with running backs, interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at Temple University, according to multiple reports. Temple eventually settled on Matt Rhule, who was previously an offensive line coach with the NFL’s New York Giants.
After just one year on the job, OSU’s co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers interviewed for the head-coaching job at Southern Mississippi, according to multiple reports. Withers had previously coached Southern Miss as its defensive backs coach from 1992-93, but the Golden Eagles program eventually landed former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken for that job.
As the dust begins to settle on the 2012 college football season, it appears that Meyer, and Buckeye Nation, dodged a bullet – for now.
Was it Meyer’s great persuasive powers that compelled his assistants to commit to another year in Columbus, though? Probably not.
Did the OSU coaches stay for Buckeye pride, and because they love this university? Maybe, but plenty of coaches have confessed love for a university and vanished for another shortly thereafter.
Or did Buckeye coaches choose to stay at Ohio Stadium because the right job wasn’t available, or the right offer wasn’t made? Bingo. Judging by the state of college coaching, that’s the most likely scenario.
Love for the Buckeye State, and even the thrill of an undefeated season, could likely be trumped for love of money. Drayton’s and Withers’ interviews at other schools suggest as much.
However Meyer managed to retain his assistants, the right offer from another school coupled with the right dollar amount could change that in a hurry.