It’s been six weeks since Urban Meyer was introduced as Ohio State’s new football coach.
Urban Meyer at OSU
In that time, Meyer has hired assistant coaches and spent time recruiting. The one thing he didn’t do, apparently, was spend a lot of time watching OSU’s Gator Bowl loss to his former school Florida.
“I just watched bits and pieces of it,” Meyer said during a Thursday afternoon press conference where he was joined by the five new OSU assistant coaches as well as new strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti.
During his time with the media, Marotti told reporters that Meyer is revitalized and ready for the challenge ahead at Ohio State.
Asked for his take, Meyer said, “I feel as good as I have felt in many many years. I am anxious to get going. I’m anxious to get out on the road recruiting for the next three weeks. Revitalize is a strong word, but it’s an appropriate word for where I am right now.”
Meyer said it was the daily interactions with the players and coaches that brought him back to college football after his self-imposed one-year exile from coaching.
“I love Zach Boren,” Meyer said. “Why did I come back? For Zach Boren and guys like that. I like John Simon. I could sit and talk to John Simon all day long. That’s why I got back into coaching. The Braxton Miller kid is all right, too.”
In mid-December, the NCAA came down with its ruling on OSU’s infractions case. The NCAA docked OSU three scholarships for each of the next three years and also imposed a postseason ban for next season. Meyer said that he has done what he could to communicate with OSU verbals and prospects about that ban.
“They stuck with us,” Meyer said of OSU’s 19 verbals. “I had to explain and rightfully so. Before that, we were telling them what we expect. But now it was final. It was a lot of long phone calls.”
Meyer admitted he has not spent much time with OSU’s returning players – at least not yet.
“I really don’t know our players,” he said. “I stayed away in December. We had a team meeting. Then we had the bowl ban released and I wanted to talk to the team again. It was a five-minute meeting, but I kept the seniors and talked to them.
“I still don’t know our players. Braxton (Miller) and Jake (Stoneburner) and some other guys I have seen them around. I will meet with the players in February.”
Meyer, Marotti and the staff were so excited to get to work with the returning players they cut the typical two-week break after the bowl game down to one week.
“We started our workouts actually a week early,” he said. “I’m watching them, but I am still trying to learn these guys. We’re all champing at the bit to go watch what we’ve got. You want to open up that Christmas present and see what you got. At some positions, you kind of smile. At other positions, you don’t.
“We haven’t been in the weight room yet. We’ll get in there (Friday) after I saw some of our physiques … we need to get into the weight room quickly and get some guys going.”
It seems that all of OSU’s scholarship seniors will return for 2012, despite the fact they can’t play for a Big Ten championship or in a bowl game. Their last game will be the home finale against rival Michigan on Nov. 24.
“I think they love Ohio State, which you would expect,” Meyer said. “I have gotten really close with Zach Boren and Jake and John Simon. Other guys I have not gotten real close with. I didn’t get involved with what route they would go. They didn’t ask me. You don’t come to Ohio State to leave with a bad taste in your mouth.
“If there is a bad taste, you say, ‘Let’s go fix that.’ I would imagine that’s a big reason why they came back.”
Meyer shed some light on his stance on his players using Twitter and other social media outlets.
“I have researched that with colleagues in the profession,” he said. “Any time you make a rule, you have to enforce it. I’m not going to say you can’t do that. I may do that down the road. What you can’t do is talk about our team. We are going to watch it. If you see somebody disappear from Twitter or Facebook, it will probably be because something about our team shouldn’t be out there.”
Meyer said his year away from the game allowed him to study how and why he did things – and make some changes.
“I went back over a 10-year career and looked at how I did things along the way,” he said. “I pulled out the things I enjoyed doing and the things I thought I was good at. Then I also made lists like what do I can’t stand doing and it takes away from the productivity of the football team? I’m not going to do a lot of that stuff.”
When asked if he would stick somebody else with those most onerous tasks, Meyer smiled and said, “Absolutely.”
There was bad news over the weekend as backup cornerback Dominic Clarke was cited by university police for drunken driving. Meyer was asked how he plans to deal with such off-the-field issues.
“What we’ll never do is say we’re going to make an example of a kid,” Meyer said. “That’s not going to happen. However, he broke a team rule. I’m still getting the information. I don’t know him. I think I’ve met him one time. I am very very disappointed because some things were covered in the team meeting. It will be dealt with very strictly and sternly at the appropriate time.
“I’m really disappointed, though.”
In terms of the staff, Meyer was retained four assistants and clarified their titles on Thursday. Luke Fickell, who served as the head coach this past season, was retained as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach. Stan Drayton, a former Meyer assistant at Florida, will move from wide receivers to running backs. Mike Vrabel will move from linebackers to the defensive line. Taver Johnson will stay as the cornerbacks coach.
The new assistants include Everett Withers (assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/safeties), Zach Smith (wide receivers), Tim Hinton (tight ends/fullbacks), Tom Herman (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks) and Ed Warinner (co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach/running game coordinator). It was reported that Hinton will also serve as the recruiting coordinator. (For more on the staff, see the story and videos linked below as well as the official announcement of the Warinner and Hinton hirings.)
Meyer said there is a chance he will name a special teams coordinator, but, at least for now, he will probably supervise those units himself.
In discussing the hirings, Meyer was asked if he was turned down by anybody he wanted to bring on board.
“I don’t think I had a no,” he said. “We’ve had a few nos in recruiting. My opinion of them is very strong. I’ve worked with two of the five on offense. On defense, I am O-fer. That’s scary stuff.”
Everybody on the staff has a tie back to Ohio with the exception of Withers, who has had a varied career with stops at seven colleges as well as a six-year stint with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. Meyer said it was by design that he wanted coaches with Ohio roots.
“It’s not a coincidence,” he said. “I know this one cuts real deep when it’s your home state. The high school relations are important. Ed Warinner was a no-brainer. He played at Mount Union. He had a great job (at Notre Dame). You don’t leave that job and come here unless there is some kind of tie.
“The same was true of Tim Hinton. There is a strong tie to pull him away from one great job (at Notre Dame) to another great job. That wasn’t by coincidence.”
In terms of play calling, Meyer said he will allow Herman to do the majority of it. But he will also have a say.
“I’ll be the veto guy,” Meyer said. “I’ll say, ‘Tom, let’s do this this series.’ But Tom will be the play caller.”
Ohio State has 19 commitments in its 2012 class, which has risen to No. 8 in the updated 247Sports.com team rankings. However, there seems to be a moving target for the number of players this class will end up with.
Meyer must ultimately stay within the NCAA-imposed scholarship limit of 82. A reporter noted how he didn’t have a full handle on how attrition could impact this class.
“I don’t, either,” Meyer said. “But we’ll probably take four or five more (verbals).”
Meyer said he is not hoping for a mass exodus of current players by any means.
“Florida went through it with a lot of guys,” he said. “I’m hoping that doesn’t happen and we end up short-handed. There is a normal attrition when a coaching staff comes in because it is so different. I’m hoping there is not. I think you always put a three- or four-man overage in there because of attrition.”
Also Check Out
Click here for Dave Biddle’s Notebook with comments from the new assistant coaches.
We have two videos featuring Urban Meyer and one segment each featuring comments from new assistants Ed Warinner, Everett Withers and Tom Herman.
Official Notice On Warinner, Hinton
After Thursday’s press conference, OSU came out with official notification of the hirings of Warinner and Hinton. Here is the release:
Urban Meyer has his Ohio State coaching staff assembled. Today, Meyer announced the addition to his staff of two veteran collegiate coaches who have a combined 58 years of coaching experience: Ed Warinner will coordinate the running game as the team’s co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach, and Tim Hinton will be the tight ends and fullbacks coach. Both coaches were at the University of Notre Dame the past two seasons under coach Brian Kelly.
“I was very pleased with the coaches already in place on this staff,” Meyer said, “and now we’ve gotten even better with the additions of Ed Warinner and Tim Hinton. Both are excellent coaches who bring a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge to our staff.”
Warinner, the offensive line coach the past two years at Notre Dame and who had the added responsibility of run game coordinator this past season, will coach his 29th collegiate season in 2012. He was a finalist this past season for the FootballScoop Offensive Line Coach of the Year. He has nine years of experience in a coordinator position, including three years as offensive coordinator at Kansas when the Jayhawks averaged 445.5 total yards per game and 35.3 points during that three-year period.
“I really wanted to hire a coach with coordinator experience,” Meyer said. “That was very important to me. Ed has that experience. His offenses at Kansas were not only impressive, but they were some of the top offenses in the country.”
Hinton, running backs coach during his two years at Notre Dame, will be in his 17th collegiate coaching season next year and his 31st year of coaching overall. His coaching resume includes 11 highly successful seasons as the head coach at Harding High School in Marion, Ohio. He led Harding to five state playoff berths and five conference titles and he was the 1995 Ohio Division I co-Coach of the Year.
“Tim is an awesome coach,” Meyer said. “He and I worked together on the Ohio State staff in 1986, but what I am most impressed with is his time spent as a high school coach in Ohio. He had some outstanding teams at Harding and his extensive experiences coaching in the state were crucial in my desire to want him on our staff.”
Both coaches are Ohio natives who have also recruited the state for many years. Warinner is from Strasburg and has a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Mount Union (1984) and a master’s in education from Akron (1985). Hinton is from Amanda. He is a 1982 graduate of Wilmington College with a degree in industrial education and he has a master’s degree in educational policy and leadership from Ohio State (1987).
Ed Warinner – Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
Warinner, who is 50, has coached at seven different schools: Akron, Michigan State, Army, Air Force, Kansas, Illinois and Notre Dame. In addition to his nine years in coordinator positions, he has spent 15 of the past 20 seasons coaching the offensive line. He has coached on teams that have won four national rushing titles, and earlier this season Rivals.com named Warinner one of the Top 20 “hottest assistant coaches” in the nation.
“I’ve always strived to coach in positions where I have a lot of responsibility,” Warinner said. “Serving as a coordinator goes beyond just coaching what my guys are doing. It is a thought process of attacking and moving the ball, and strategies and reading plays. There is a big picture as a coordinator that I am into and really enjoy, and it’s a position from where I think I can make a significant contribution to the success of a team.”
After opening his coaching career in 1984 at Akron (running backs), Warinner was linebackers and secondary coach at Michigan State in 1985-86.
Then came a 13-year run at Army, a period when he coached along the offensive line for seven years and became a coordinator – offensive – for the first time (1998-99). While Warinner was at Army the Cadets led the nation in rushing three times.
He left Army to join Fisher DeBerry’s staff at Air Force. He spent three years there as the offensive line coach and the Falcons led the nation in rushing in 2002 (307.8 yards per game).
The first of two terms at Kansas – 2003-04 – ensued for Warinner, working as offensive line coach/run game coordinator, before a two-year run with Illinois in the same capacity. In his second season with the Illini, his rushing attack netted 188.3 yards per game which was the best by an Illinois team since 1973.
Warinner’s talents as an offensive coordinator then took center stage from 2007-09 while at Kansas. The Jayhawks posted the three best offenses in terms of total yards and passing yards in those years and also had three of the top seven scoring seasons in school history as well.
His 2007 Jayhawks were the nation’s second-highest scoring team (42.8 points per game) and set a school record by averaging 479.8 yards per game, two huge reasons that Kansas went 12-1 that year with a 24-21 FedEx Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
The 2008 Jayhawks averaged 432.4 yards and 33.4 points per game, respectively, and his final Jayhawk offense averaged 422.4 offensive yards, including a school-record 310.3 passing yards. Warinner was a finalist for the American Football Coaches Association’s National Assistant Coach of the Year award following the 2009 campaign.
He then joined Kelly’s staff at Notre Dame, where he helped the Irish to consecutive bowl games the past two years; the 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl and the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl. In 2010 Notre Dame had its best per carry rushing average since 2003 (4.0), a figure that improved to 4.8 in 2011. The Irish offensive line allowed just 17 sacks this past season and only 20 in 2010.
And now he’s coming home to coach in his home state.
“I have always dreamed of having an opportunity to coach at Ohio State,” Warinner said. “Ohio State is a special place with special people and I am excited to be a part of it. I am really going to enjoy coaching here.”
Warinner was a football and baseball letterman at Mount Union from 1979-83. He and his wife, Mary Beth, have three children: daughters Madisyn and Merideth, and a son, Edward.
Tim Hinton – Tight Ends and Fullbacks
Hinton’s 30 seasons of coaching experience includes 16 seasons in the collegiate ranks with positions at Ohio State, Wilmington, Ohio, Cincinnati and Notre Dame, and 14 years as a head coach at three Ohio high schools: Zane Trace (1987-88); Van Wert (1989) and Harding (1993-2003).
“I have always felt it would be an honor to have an opportunity to coach for and to represent Ohio State,” Hinton said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to work with great people and great coaches at such a wonderful place.”
This past season Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood rushed for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2010, a quartet of Notre Dame rushers combined for 1,517 yards and a 4.8 yards per carry average and, impressively, fumbled only twice all season and both occurred in the same game.
Excellent ball protection was also evident among Hinton’s running backs at the University of Cincinnati, where he coached six years between 2004-09, including three seasons under former Ohio State assistant and current Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio. Neither of his two leading rushers during the 2009 UC season lost a fumble in 195 carries.
Hinton, who is 51, spent his first three seasons as running backs coach for Dantonio’s Bearcats teams. After coaching linebackers for the first year of the Kelly administration, he moved back to running backs for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Dantonio pulled Hinton from the high school ranks back into the college ranks after Hinton’s 11-year run at Harding High School, where in addition to directing his teams to five state playoff appearances, he developed 13 players who would go on to major college programs. He was extremely active in the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, serving as an officer for six years, including vice-president of the organization in 2003.
“I’ve either coached or recruited in the state of Ohio for my entire 30-year coaching career,” Hinton said. “I still have great friends in the state. Ohio high school coaches are a unique group of individuals. They are excellent coaches, very professional, extremely loyal and they have great passion for the game.”
Three seasons at Ohio University, coaching the wide receivers in 1990 and the defensive line in 1991-92, preceded Hinton’s position at Harding and followed his first two head coaching positions at Zane Trace and Van Wert high schools, respectively.
While attending Wilmington College, Hinton was an assistant coach at Amanda-Clearcreek High School for three seasons (1978-80) and then parlayed that experience into a student-assistant position at Wilmington that started in 1981 and concluded in 1984. Wilmington won two conference titles during that time and made two appearances in the NAIA playoffs.
Hinton then enrolled at Ohio State to coach in a graduate assistant capacity for two seasons (1985-86) under Earle Bruce and to work on his master’s degree. The Buckeyes went to two bowl games and earned a share of the 1986 Big Ten championship.
Hinton and his wife, Bev, have two daughters: Dawn and Drew.