When you’re the Ohio State Buckeyes and head coach Urban Meyer, you should be expecting that every once in awhile, an assistant or two will leave your program either to become a head coach for another college football program or advance onto the NFL. Cornerbacks and Special Teams coach Kerry Coombs did so just a couple weeks ago, joining former Buckeyes standout player and assistant coach Mike Vrabel’s new Tennessee Titans coaching staff. After already losing Coombs, which was a major loss for Meyer’s staff, it was rumored that defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was also leaving the staff and headed to New England to join Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Patriots.
While talking to the media on Wednesday’s National Signing Day, Meyer put all those rumors to rest, stating that Schiano will remain at Ohio State after turning down multiple offers elsewhere, both from other college football programs and the NFL.
“Coach Schiano, just like last year, he turned down a handful of head coaching opportunities in college. Multiple opportunities, again, in the National Football League this year. Multiple opportunities that — in college football. And he’s not one of those gets it out there,” Meyer said of Schiano. “Me and him are kind of built in the same — we don’t use that to try to leverage people or try to — we — that’s zero conversation in the media. It’s between myself and him, and then obviously, Gene Smith is very involved. I can — at least a dozen opportunities Coach Schiano’s had. And we had many, many discussions and he’s informed me that he’s 100 percent staying at Ohio State University. So that’s done and he’s here. I think he’s going to be made available to you here in a little bit.”
When rumors began swirling that former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was going to be the next head coach of the Detroit Lions,1 multiple people told WFNY that Schiano would be Belichick’s top choice to replace Patricia. Why, you ask? The two are very close and have been friends for a long time. So close that Belichick vouched for Schiano when the whole Tennessee debacle happened in November, when the defensive coordinator was expected to be the new head coach of the Volunteers before things in Rocky Top took a sudden turn.
Prior to coming to Ohio State following the 2015 season, he was a head coach at Rutgers for more than a decade and then coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons. His experience (and success on different levels) is one of the main reasons why Schiano is such an attractive target to other programs.
Belichick’s top choice turned into an expectation that Schiano would become the Patriots new defensive coordinator, as footballscoop.com’s Zach Barnett reported earlier this week. Instead, Schiano will remain in Columbus and continue to be Ohio State’s defensive coordinator. Actually, he will be the co-defensive coordinator, after the Buckeyes hired former Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch as their 10th assistant.
Losing Coombs was a big deal, but Meyer is a good enough head coach and recruiter (both in terms of coaches and players) that he could have made up for the loss. Losing both Coombs and Schiano in the same offseason could have been very, very tough to regroup from in a single offseason. The head coach is happy his assistant decided to stay in Columbus, after after already losing Coombs to the Titans.
“Yeah, he’s essential to our program right now, Coach Schiano. If he is not my best recruiter, he’s certainly right there near the top. He manages so much for me off the field as well as being one of the top defensive coordinators in America. And he’s a relationship person that — he’s not one of those coaches that knows his position or that side of the ball and that’s it, he knows every one,” Meyer said of Schiano. “Because he’s been a head coach before. So a very valuable member of our staff as many of the guys. Kerry Coombs, that was, that took my breath away a little bit. Kerry is dear friend. Him and Holly are — for the rest of our lives will be very close. He was instrumental in our success we have had here. Great Ohioan, a great person. And I was shocked when he did that, but he’s a friend and we obviously wish him all the very best.”
After his previous contract expired on January 31, negotiations and (most likely) a pay raise seemed to play a role in Schiano remaining with Ohio State. Along with Meyer, athletic director Gene Smith also spoke to the media on Wednesday. He mentioned that for the first time ever, the Buckeyes will have an assistant who will make over $1 million next season. That assistant is presumably (and all but certainly) Schiano.2
Under Schiano’s direction last fall, the Silver Bullets ranked fifth in the country in fewest yards per play allowed, led college football with 114 tackles for loss, and were third with 45 sacks. There’s a reason why so much talent on the defensive side of the ball has come through Ohio State and advanced onto the NFL over the last few years.
Along with a nice pay raise, the co-defensive coordinator made it known that he and his family are happy in Columbus, which also played a major role in the decision to remain at Ohio State. Much like Schiano is happy in Columbus, Ohio State fans are especially happy that one of the best defensive coordinators in college football is remaining with the scarlet and gray for (at least) another season. It’s not only big in terms of on-the-field success, but also is a major factor in recruiting as well, as the Buckeyes have seen over the last couple years since Schiano came to Ohio State.