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Football: Ohio State coaches mostly rated ‘meets expectation’ in 2016 performance reviews

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer observes the field at Memorial Stadium prior to the Buckeyes’ season-opening 49-21 win over Indiana on Aug. 31 in Bloomington, Indiana. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor

Ohio State football coaches, including coach Urban Meyer and each assistant coach who remains on the staff from the 2016 season, either exceeded or met expectations in their overall ratings, according to performance evaluations obtained by The Lantern through a public-records request.

Meyer was reviewed by Athletics Director Gene Smith while Meyer evaluated every assistant coach. The reviews were conducted in June.

Each assistant coach rated himself in a variety of categories and added comments and goals with input from Meyer. The head coach added overall comments at the bottom of the documents.

Reviews of former co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell, former co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Beck and former co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Ed Warinner were not completed because they departed before reviews took place.

Urban Meyer

Despite reaching the College Football Playoff, Meyer received a “performance meets expectations” when determining the competitive success of the program.

“Reaching the CFP represents another milestone!” Smith wrote in Meyer’s review.

Meyer earned an overall rating of “exceeds expectations.” He was given exceptionally high reviews for Ohio State’s off-field performance.

“The academic performance of all students represented the best in many years,” Smith wrote. “Embedded with that is the ever growing positive culture. The young men represent the highest character almost across the board. Urban’s continued approach as an excellent community engager (all communities) is significant for the entire university.”

According Smith’s review, Meyer’s performance exceeded expectations in the academic success of the program, commitment to compliance, “student-athlete welfare,” leadership and “public relations/donor relations.”  

The head coach met, but did not exceed, expectations with his communication and budget management.

Smith noted that Meyer should continue to strive for a team GPA of above 3.0, which, according to Meyer’s contract, would result in the coach receiving a $50,000 bonus. Meyer was told to continue to focus on “cultural and behavioral issues all students face,” to “think outside of the box on education about these issues” and to recruit “the most talented and gifted players and put them in position to win championships.”

Greg Schiano

Despite having only worked with the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach for one season, Meyer called defensive coordinator and safeties coach Greg Schiano the “best coach I’ve worked with.”

Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano shakes hands with players prior to fall camp on Aug. 5. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor.

In his first year with Ohio State last season, Schiano worked with Fickell as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. He is one of two coaches to give himself a five out of five — which means he exceeded expectations — in his overall rating as a coach.

Unsurprisingly, given first-round draft pick Malik Hooker’s ascendance last season, Schiano earned positive comments from Meyer based on his unit’s strength and performance, development of his unit, and recruiting. The head coach also gave Schiano positive reviews for his leadership of the defensive staff, creativity in the system, loyalty and his demand of accountability.

Schiano positively evaluated his unit’s productivity, position productivity, player development, teaching methods, “thirst for knowledge” and “selfless recruiting.” The defensive coordinator noted he should work on patience, enlisting Meyer’s support earlier in the recruiting cycle and turning administrative paperwork in on time.

Larry Johnson

Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson walks to the practice field at fall camp on Aug. 5. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor.

Having developed and recruited one of the more dominant units in college football, it comes as no surprise that defensive line coach Larry Johnson was the second of the two assistant coaches who gave himself a five out of five overall rating, which means the coach exceeded expectations.

Johnson earned positive comments from Meyer for his recruiting, player development, unit performance, loyalty, ability to get players to the NFL, “expertise at his trade” and his motivation of the team. Meyer wrote that Johnson should use his motivational skills more often.

In the review, Meyer noted Johnson needed to work on continuing to develop young players and enhance defensive game planning.

Kerry Coombs

Cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs, whom Meyer calls an “elite coach,” earned high marks for his productivity and development of his players on the field. Coombs determined the cornerback play was “very effective” and highlighted the development of first-round picks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley.

Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs fires up the team prior to fall camp on Aug. 5. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor.

Coombs rated his recruiting as exceeding expectations and Meyer listed it as a positive. The cornerback coach noted the Buckeyes had a “very good [2017] class both in area recruiting and position recruiting.” But Meyer also noted Coombs had “too many misses in recruiting.”

Given the loss of Lattimore and Conley, Meyer noted Coombs needed to work on development of young players and said it would be key for the 2017 season. He mentioned Coombs needed to continue enhancing special teams and work on game planning due to his additional responsibilities as assistant coordinator, defense.

The head coach listed Coombs’ loyalty, special teams enhancement and motivation, enthusiasm and energy in all aspects of the program, staff chemistry, leadership of the freshman class and unit performance as positives.

Coombs wrote that even though punt, kick return and kickoff units reached “Ohio State Standards” last season, the Buckeyes’ punt return must improve this year. The special teams coordinator also noted that Tyler Durbin, a walk-on kicker, exceeded expectations and punter Cameron Johnston was honored as first-team All-Big Ten.

Zach Smith

Though wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Smith wrote his goals were to be the “Best in America” as a recruiter, wide receiver coach, unit leader and staff member, he was the only two coaches to give himself a three out of five — meaning he marginally met expectations — on his productivity and development of his players on the field.

Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith talks to junior wide receiver Eric Glover-Williams prior to fall camp on Aug. 5. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor.

Meyer wrote that Smith needed to work on the unit behavior, referring to “last year failures.” He also mentioned Smith needed to work on his unit strength, “equating the meeting room,” “personal matters,” “focusing on the task” and special teams.

Smith earned positive comments for his creativity in recruiting, with his unit and the offense as a whole. Meyer noted Smith’s knowledge of the offense as a positive, but said he needed to use it. The receiver coach’s recruiting, adaptivity to new coordinators and enhancement of his unit’s offseason schedules, were positively evaluated by Meyer.

The wideout coach wrote that he should enhance his productivity in recruiting, with the goal to “be the best.”

Tony Alford

Running backs coach and assistant head coach for offense Tony Alford gave himself a four out of five, meeting expectations for the productivity and development of his players on the field. Running back Mike Weber was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2016 when he rushed for 1,096 yards. But Alford noted he needs to get more production from the backup running backs.

Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford prepares for practice at fall camp on Aug. 5. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor.

Alford earned positive reviews for his recruiting, “development of his unit,” loyalty, staff chemistry and “preaching of Ohio State culture.” Meyer noted that he has had “zero issues” with the running backs off the field and mentioned the unit had a strong cohesion.

According to Meyer’s review, the third-year Ohio State assistant coach must work on “equating the meeting room,” game-planning, speaking in front of the team and becoming the best in the country.

Alford wrote that one of his goals is to continue on the path of professional growth in order to obtain a head coaching job. He also listed having his unit held in high regard by the team and coaching staff as a goal.

Greg Studrawa

Though two players — right guard Billy Price and center Pat Elflein — earned first-team All-American honors last season, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa gave himself either a three or four out of five (both were circled on the evaluation) in terms of his overall rating as a coach.

Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa coaches his unit at a fall practice on Aug. 5. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor.

He evaluated himself as a three out of five — marginally meeting expectations — for the productivity and development of his players on the field. Studrawa wrote he needs the unit to improve pass protection and finish blocks more consistently. The need for improvement extended off the field as the offensive line coach evaluated himself as marginally meeting expectations for his off-field social productivity and development, writing he needs to “continue to stress social behavior.”

Studrawa wrote that his goals are to have the best offensive line in the country, improve at staying involved in players’ lives outside of football and a continuation of leadership development.

Studrawa earned high marks from Meyer for his passion, creativity and productivity in recruiting, as well as his caring for players and family involvement.

According Meyer’s review, the offensive line coach must work on improving his unit’s culture, specifically its toughness and fundamentals. Meyer also noted Studrawa needs to work on improving “unit pride,” his value in the offensive staff room, “ownership and understanding of the offense,” and his relationships with the staff, including strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti.

Meyer also mentioned Studrawa need to work on his use of sarcasm. There is “no place for it,” Meyer wrote.

View the full performance evaluations here: Urban Meyer, Greg Schiano, Larry Johnson, Kerry Coombs, Zach Smith, Tony Alford, Greg Studrawa

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