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Football: Greg Schiano turned down two head coaching positions to remain at Ohio State

Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano gets the Buckeyes ready for the first fall practice of the year on July 27. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor

Assistant coaches under Urban Meyer tend to draw head coaching interest around the nation.

So it should come as no surprise that co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was approached by other programs over the summer who asked him if he could step in as their head coach.

“He was offered two head coaching jobs and two significant head coaching jobs, and he made the decision to come back,” Meyer said Monday in Chicago at Big Ten Media Days.

Watching former assistant coaches take on head coaching positions elsewhere is nothing new to Meyer. His former offensive coordinator during the 2014 national championship-winning season, Tom Herman, has since been the head coach at Houston, and now has taken the role at Texas, replacing another member of the Meyer coaching tree in Charlie Strong, who was a defensive coordinator and linebacker coach during Meyer’s tenure at Florida.

The coach Schiano replaced — Chris Ash — as co-defensive coordinator also took a head coaching position, heading east to coach Rutgers. Most recently, Schiano’s former partner on the defensive side of the ball, Luke Fickell, accepted the head coaching position at Cincinnati in December 2016.

And Schiano certainly has plenty of head coaching experience under his belt. He spent 11 seasons from 2001-11 as the head coach of Rutgers and a pair of seasons in 2012-13 when he led the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Schiano was again given the opportunity to become the main man on the sideline, but he said that the timing just isn’t right for him just yet.

“You do what’s right for you at the time,” Schiano said. “What’s right for you and your family. Every decision I’ve ever made in coaching has been based on that.”

In Schiano’s first season as co-defensive coordinator, the Ohio State defense emerged as elite. The team allowed the sixth-fewest yards per game (296.8) among all FBS teams and the third-fewest points per game (15.5).

Heading up to the coaching box for the first time since holding the defensive coordinator role at Miami (Florida) back from 1999-2000, Schiano said he did not want to judge in advance what to think of returning to being a coordinator after 15 years as a head coach, and added that working under coach Meyer makes the coordinator role easier for him.

“I work for a head coach who is exception, and I don’t just mean because he wins games, but the way he runs his program, the way he holds everyone accountable,” Schiano said. “Now if I went and worked for someone who was all over the map, it would eat me alive and I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

And he said taking time away from being a head coach to work under a leader like Meyer has helped him learn more about the profession of coaching.

“You never stop learning in any profession. But in this profession, I think it’s even more accelerated,” he said. “There’s some new things that unless you’re involved in the program in a day-to-day nature, you don’t get it from just talking or visiting. So it’s really living it, living the culture, living the alignment that to me has been educational.”

While Schiano is staying for now, Meyer said that he knows it is only a matter of time until Schiano will be a head coach again.

“He is a head coach. He will be a head coach. I’m going to keep him as long as I can,” Meyer said. “I thought he’s one of the best (coaches) I’ve ever been around, and he’s a little bit better than that. That’s how good of a coach he is.”

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