Let's Play Coaching Staff Lego

David ThurmanCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2011
Dave Thurman (9:59 pm)

As Urban Meyer works tirelessly to build his coaching staff, Buckeye fans are becoming a little impatient.  At his press conference, Meyer made it clear that he is going after the very best and intends to build an all-star staff of assistant coaches.  Right now, he is carefully working to assemble the parts that will enable him to build a dynasty at Ohio State.  It won't be long until we know exactly who all the key players are, but since we're an anxious lot, let's take a look at some of the candidates and make a few guesses.

What We Know:

Besides the knowledge that Urban Meyer will be the head coach in 2012, we are confident of two other assistant coaches:

Luke Fickell - Meyer has made it clear that Luke was offered, and Fickell has been equally clear in letting us know that he has accepted.  However, nobody is sure exactly where Fickell will fit into Urban's master plan.  The speculation is that he will either coach the defensive line of the linebackers.  My guess would be the D-line. 

Mickey Mariotti - The Director of Strength and Conditioning at Florida has been lured to Columbus by Meyer, and will work in a similar position.  He is known for not only helping players develop strength but having great success in increasing their speed.

What Seems Probable:

Stan Drayton - Drayton is a fine coach and a top-notch recruiter who has had the unenviable job of mentoring the young, depleted receiving corp this season at Ohio State. The fact that he coached with Meyer down at Florida won't hurt Drayton's cause.  Although he could remain with the receivers, many in the know think he may move to the running backs, which is where he has previous experience. 

Mike Vrabel - What's not to like about a guy with a fist full of Super Bowl rings, who is young, energetic, and able to relate well with recruits?  Although Vrabel hasn't been promised anything, it is likely that he winds up coaching the linebackers, though the D-line is also a possibility. 

Taver Johnson - The current cornerback coach has been at OSU for five years and there is an excellent chance he will be reatained to continue working with the secondary. 

What Has Been Rumored:

Mike Stoops - Almost from the moment Meyer was named as the new head coach there has been speculation that Stoops would wind up as his new defensive coordinator.  The former Arizona head man didn't have great success in Tucson but is an Ohio native who is well respected for his defensive prowess.  It is possible, however, that Nebraska's Bo Pelini will also go after Stoops, and is not out of the question that he will join his brother at Oklahoma.  Stay tuned. 

Chuck Heater - If Stoops turns down the job of DC it might be offered to Heater, who is presently heading up the defense at Temple, and is a former Meyer assistant.  The Owls defense surrendered the third fewst points in the nation this year, so one can make a solid case for this hire. 

John Tenuta - The current linebacker coach at NC State did a fine job as defensive backs coach at Ohio State a decade ago.  While there has been little mention of his name, it wouldn't be out of the question to see him hired to work with the secondary or, possibly, serve as the defensive coordinator.

Greg Strudwara - Turning to the offense, the guy at the top of Urban's wish list seems to be LSU's current offensive coordinator, Greg Strudrwara.  He is an Ohio native who coached with Meyer at Bowling Green, and brings a healthy resume.  My guess is that he will be tough to lure away from LSU, but If anybody can do it, it's Urban Meyer.

Tim Brewster - The former Minnesota head coach has NFL experience in coaching tight ends and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him come to Columbus in that capacity.  It is even possible that he could wind up as the offensive coordinator if things don't work out with Strudwara.

Scott Loeffler - Normally a formal Michigan player would not be in the running for a job with the Buckeyes, but Loeffler, who is presently the offensive coordinator at Temple, did serve as the quarterback coach at Florida, so he and Meyer have worked together.  OSU needs a good quarterback coach and Loeffler may be their man.  Again, it isn't out of the question for him to have an even bigger role with the offense if others can't be recruited.

What Isn't Likely to Happen:

Kirk Herbstreit
- There were a few rumors circulating that Kirk might come as part of Meyer's staff, working with the offense.  Don't believe it.  Herbstreit has carved out a great niche for himself in broadcasting.

D.J. Durkin - Some surmised that Durkin might leave Florida to come as a defensive coordinator or even a linebacker coach.  After all he worked with Meyer at Bowling Green and Florida.  But he recently reaffirmed his commitment to the Gators, so don't expect to see him on the sidelines in Columbus.

Other names will surface in the next few days and it will be interesting to see who is eventually hired, and how much the Ohio State athletic department has to ante up in salaries.