"We're Going to Win a Lot of Games": An Interview with Tim Hinton

By Kyle Rowland on June 29, 2012 at 10:00a
OSU Season ticket holder since 1950.

We sat down with new fullbacks/tight ends coach Tim Hinton and talked about college football's new postseason, a lifetime love of high school football and his 26-year relationship with Urban Meyer. 

Eleven Warriors: We’ll start out with the topic Du jour: the new college football playoff. You were a high school coach for a long time, where playoffs are king, and now you’ve been a college coach for nearly a decade. What are your initial feelings?

Tim Hinton: Well, I’m always in favor of what’s best for college football. I’m a little bit of a traditionalist, personally. I think sometimes, no offense, the media gets too carried away with the wrong parts of sports. The reality is we have been crowing a national champion, and it’s been a very positive growth of college football. The bottom line is not every change is always great; I hope this one is. What are we making all these changes for, to get a national champion? Well, we’ve had one.

College football is the second most popular sport in the United States. I’m a little bit of a skeptic because I’ve been involved in my share of bowl games over the years, and I know the positive impact they can have on kids. I also know that you can have a 10-3 season and not win the national championship and people think you had a lousy season. That’s not fair to the players or the people around. It creates unfair expectations for everyone, and obviously at Ohio State we expect to compete for it every year. In reality, there are a lot of people who play college football and they aren’t going to be in that game every year. Unfortunately, we’ve created a scenario where that’s the only goal. There are coaches that will be fired because they go 10-2. I don’t know if that’s the criteria that we need to have in college football, but that’s what your profession really wants (laughs).

11W: You were directly involved in arguably the most controversial season of the BCS, when there were five undefeated teams, Cincinnati being one of them. That year heightened the criticism for the BCS. Looking back at that season and knowing you would possibly have a chance now if that scenario played out again, does that ease some of your concerns?

TH: Yes and no. Obviously we wanted to play in the national championship game, and I thought we were when the clock hit 0:00 in the Texas (-Nebraska game). That’s what everyone wants to get out of the experience and that’s what we are here to do. I don’t want to downplay that. That’s what we’re here to do at Ohio State and what Coach Meyer wants to get accomplished.

The other end of it, by golly, when the Rose Bowl isn’t one of the semifinals, what does that do to the Rose Bowl Parade, one of the great traditions we have in this country? Is the parade going to be on a different day than the Rose Bowl? I don’t think people care about other things like that. But, really, those things are very important to the people at the Rose Bowl. And you look at the relationship the Big Ten and Pac-12 have had with the Rose Bowl for years and years and years. Are we now going to downplay that game? What’s that mean to not play in the Rose Bowl? I don’t know if that’s a good for the Big Ten. But, obviously, we’re in it, and here we go.

11W: You’re from Ohio, were a graduate assistant at Ohio State in the 80s, how much are you living out a dream right now?

Hinton experienced BCS controversy at Cincinnati.

TH: I’m the luckiest guy in the world. There’s no doubt about that. I tell people that on a consistent basis. I mean, who does this? Nine years ago I was a high school coach in Ohio. I really had no intentions of leaving. Coach (Mark) Dantonio and I had a talk, and I actually called him to try and help him get the (University of Cincinnati) job because I knew some people down there. In the same conversation he told me, “I think I’m getting it, are you coming with me?” Wow, the conversation really flipped. It was a very tough decision. I loved high school football. But I went to Cincinnati, worked with a great man like Mark Dantonio. I had an opportunity to really see Cincinnati grow under him. Then Brian Kelly came in and took it to another level, back-to-back Orange Bowls and a Sugar Bowl. Who would have ever thought that would happen? Then I had an opportunity to work at a place like Notre Dame.

What are the odds when we played against Coach Meyer in the Sugar Bowl two years later he wouldn’t be working at Florida, Jim Tressel wouldn’t be at Ohio State and, by golly, I’ll be working at Ohio State with Coach Meyer? What are the odds of that? That’s living a dream.

11W: What are your memories of Coach Meyer from your time at Ohio State in the 80s?

TH: We were very good friends and did a lot of things socially. It was great. We kept in touch with each other through all the years. To be honest with you, I never knew if this day would come around. I had an opportunity to work with him when he was at Bowling Green and I was at Marion (Harding). At the time, it wasn’t right for me personally and chose not to do that.

It’s been great to have that relationship. He’s a tremendous football coach, has a great mind for the game and a work ethic that just doesn’t end. We’re going to win a lot of games at Ohio State University. We’re really excited about it.

11W: At your introductory press conference you said, “I’m a high school coach who coaches college football.” What do you mean by that?

Hinton and Meyer's relationship dates to the 1980s.

TH: There are some guys who are institutionalized college guys. They grew up in it; they played Division I college football, they were graduate assistants in college football and then their next job is in college football. There’s nothing wrong with that. Obviously, there are a lot of great college coaches who have gone that route.

I went a different route. I taught high school for 17 years and was a head high school coach for 14 of those years. I think I come from a different perspective than a lot of guys who have only been around college football. You kind of lose touch with the process of recruiting high school kids, as far as what it means to the kids and the coaches and the relationship with the parents. Sometimes we dehumanize that a little bit and forget that these are real people with real problems. High school coaches have a lot more going on than just that one recruit that we want. They have their own programs to run and lives to take care of.

I’m a high school coach, I have a great relationship with the high school coaches in Ohio and they are very important to me because I’m one of them.

11W: You were very-well liked when you were a high school coach and were the president of the high school coaches association. Coming back, you were at Notre Dame and then Cincinnati before that, your relationships never really ended. How big of an asset is that at Ohio State, the big state school university?

Stoneburner's arrest put a damper on a great spring.

TH: To be honest with you, I don’t think I would’ve been hired if I didn’t have it (laughs). Hopefully I would have been, but I think that’s a great sell for Coach Meyer. He can tell people, “Listen, I have a guy who came up through the ranks. He coached in the Big 33, coached in the North-South game, went to all the league meetings and knows all the coaches in Ohio.” To me, that should be a strength of mine and an asset for Ohio State and our program. I enjoy those relationships. They are sincere relationships. I go to that national football convention, and I don’t enjoy it near as much as the big high school clinic in Ohio. There’s nothing like getting down and rubbing elbows with a guy from the ranks. I absolutely enjoy it and very sincerely love it.

I know there are a lot of guys who never want to do what we do. College football isn’t easy, as far as the time, travel and recruiting you do away from your family. But I hope there are some guys in high school football that want to be college coaches. Wherever you are, you do the best job you can and people always notice. It isn’t about finding the next job, it’s about doing the best job you can at the job you have. If you’re the right guy for that job, you may get other opportunities, and if you aren’t the right guy for that job, that’s ok, too. Do a great job where you are.

11W: It’s unique. Obviously, Ohio is known for high school football. But there is you, Coach Meyer and Coach (Kerry) Coombs, all three of you coached at big time programs in the state, and now you’re all on the same staff at Ohio State.

TH: It is. I think that’s what Ohio is. Woody did it, Coach Bruce kept it alive, even Coach Cooper had Coach Conley on his staff. There are Ohio coaches that have come up through the ranks for the years. It’s something that’s important for the fabric of Ohio and the fabric of Ohio State coaching. This is college sports and everything has a different perspective, and I think when you come up through the ranks you see the world maybe a little bit different than the guys who’ve never been high school coaches.

11W: Fullbacks and tight ends, the two positions you’re focused on, are undergoing a 180, just a complete overhaul. For the better part of a decade, both positions have been glorified linemen and have not been instrumental in getting the ball down field. It looks like that’s going to change dramatically.

TH: It’s going to change a lot, and it’s going to change for the better. Hopefully, we’re able to recruit very athletic tight ends. We have some great ones on campus now. We’re excited about the type of play we’re going to have from our tight ends and the things we’re going to ask them to do. And I think our tight ends are excited to be asked to do them.

11W: I’m sure you were aware of who played for Ohio State. But when you get to campus and see up close what a Zach Boren can do out of the backfield and what Jake Stoneburner and Jeff Heuerman can do downfield, does that make you smile?

TH: Well, sure. Anytime you have great players like that it makes your job easier. When I was coaching at Cincinnati and Notre Dame, I’d always try to watch Ohio State’s games. My family has been season ticket holders since 1950. Everyone has that team that they loved growing up, and that sticks with people.

But when you see how hard those players work and how much they try to improve, that’s great. We made a lot of progress in the winter and spring, and hopefully we can put something together this season.

11W: Looking ahead to Sept. 1 and the season-opener against Miami. What’s it going to be like running out of that tunnel and through the band?

TH: Ahh. I don’t get to. I’ll be up in the press box. But even running out with 80,000 people there for the spring game was great. When Coach Tressel was here I told him that someday I was going to run out on that field, I didn’t care if they had to arrest me. Now I’m coaching at Ohio State and I don’t even get to run out (laughs). No, it will be OK. Just being in that stadium to see everything is going to be something else.

It's never an easy to decision to leave a coaching job, but this one was easy.

11W: I hate to end on bad news, but obviously Jake Stoneburner was arrested recently. How disappointing it to see someone like Stoneburner, who is a leader, get into trouble?

TH: It is very disappointing. I know Jake feels bad for what happened, but I’m sure he’ll do what he needs to do to get back on the team. Anytime you see a kid let himself down and the team down is difficult.


Comments Show All Comments

buckeyedude's picture

I don't think a coach should be fired for going 10-2 or 9-3. But when it's OSU, the standards are a little higher. As long as OSU is competing and in the thick of the B1G championship and a NC, I'm happy.



703Buckeye's picture

Great interview. Coach Hinton sounds like a great guy; I really like his love for the university.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

azbuck's picture

I am a big fan of EW and the content you guys produce and hope the site continues to grow.  However, one area that could be improved is the consistent typos by having somebody (co-worker, friend, mom) skim through the article before posting.  
Nobody likes a grammar you know what, but for me it really detracts from the quality and seriousness of the site when I see errors that could have been easily caught with a fresh set of eyes.  
We all appreciate the effort everybody puts into the site and how quickly new content is posted, but we can always improve.
Thank you for the interview and GO BUCKS!

Kyle Rowland's picture

Sorry, AZ. I scanned it and made corrections. 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

It was hilarious because a coworker came into my office while I was reading the blog and he just started laughing asking me why I was reading police arrest blogs this early in the morning!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

DJ Byrnes's picture

The horros of having to read typos on the internet. I will not stand for this!

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Glad you changed the main pic... wasn't too flattering to Tim!!!
Love the line about winning a lot of games!!! Music to the ears of many many many Buckeye fans!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

cinserious's picture

Tim Hinton is going to be a very valuable asset recruiting here in the state of ohio with his knowlege of all the high schools and his relationships with so many coaches. Likewise Ed Warriner will also help lock down SW Ohio. Alot of people are worried Urban will go too national with recruiting and neglect alot of Ohio talent but that won't be the case considering he intentionally hired Ohio coaches with Ohio ties: Coombs, Warriner, Hinton, kept Fickle and Vrabel. They will take Ohio very seriously and have it locked down every year. Add in Everett Withers with his Carolina connections and Tom Hermann and Urban Meyer himself and we will pull in top-flight national recruits as well. Everything is shaping up to: "were going to win alot of games at Ohio St."

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

sir rickithda3rd's picture

Coach Hinton coached at my high school. Great coach and a better man, everyone loved him except for when we were in the weight room with him. He def gets the best out of his players and everyone i know that played for him would run threw a wall for the guy... again awesome coach but better guy! One of Marions Finest!

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Nice interview, Kyle.
Tim Hinton seems like a solid, down-to-earth guy. I like the diversity of personalities and backgrounds on this staff - it's a balanced, well-rounded group.
I'm not one who is worried about the 2013 class, but I can see the Ohio-bred assistant coaches gradually picking up recruiting steam in the region over the next few years, when it will really start to pay off. Guys like Hinton are not flashy, but they build relationships for the long-haul.
So, maybe the end of the 2012 class benefited from Urban's meteoric arrival; 2013 will be a very good but smallish class; and 2014 will be a monster class.

southbymidwest's picture

I really appreciate articles like this that let us know a bit more about the individual members of the coaching staff. Hinton sounds like a great coach and person- he definitely seems like he "gets it" on a number of levels. Plus, you have to love that his family has had OSU football tickets for a gazillion years.

DJ Byrnes's picture

Tim Hinton, bossman. You lose points with me, however, Lenin, because you didn't ask him which HHS team was better: the 98 one or the 01 one (and how many points they would hang on any Pleasant team ever.) 

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

sir rickithda3rd's picture

01 wins that game only bcuz that was my junior yr!!! 98 team prolly had more talent though... line would have been -42 against any and all spartan teams!

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

Bucksfan's picture

Maybe it's a good thing that the Rose Bowl will be more accessible to the rest of the nation.  The B1G is still going to have that tie-in most of the time, but it's such a huge sporting tradition, it is something that I think everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.  For most everyone, including half of the Big Ten and Pac-12, that's impossible.  I know we've had the traditional tie-in since the 1940's with the Pac-10, but that was a Disney-like move to create an exclusivity that drives marketability.  They looked at the SEC (called something else at the time) and did not go with them because of their segregation policies.  Well, we're way passed that now.  Any college football fanbase would cut off their right arm to see their team in a Rose Bowl in person.  We'd call it sacrilege to see Clemson play Washington or something.  But, if Clemson is #3 and Washington is #2, and it's a semi-final game...c'mon, that's going to be awesome.  Clemson fans get to make maybe a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Pasadena to see the Rose Parade and the Granddaddy.  Why is that a bad thing?  Because it's not a B1G team?  Blah.
The Rose Bowl used to be a major player in the national title decisions, too...but as far as the Big Ten is concerned, that ship sailed in the 1960's (Pac-10 hasn't done much better over that span, either).  So, how much of a big a deal has it really been??  
A playoff actually makes that game mean something again at least some of the time.  As a BCS game, it doesn't mean anything 100% of the time.
It's time to share the Rose Bowl with the rest of the United States.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

You make a good argument for why non-BT/P12 schools would want to participate in the Rose Bowl and why it might be a nice thing for cfb in general that the event is being opened up.
But how does this arrangement benefit the BT? On what position(s) concerning the various playoff proposals did the BT get its way? The BT authorities stated that it was priority #1 to preserve the traditional Rose Bowl relationship, but you're suggesting that they didn't quite do that. Okay, so what'd they get in return for that concession?
Or, to clarify, are you suggesting that opening up the Rose Bowl benefits the BT? Otherwise, are you making sort of a "share the wealth" argument, whereby it might not be in the interests of the BT, but it's only fair to all the other schools, etc.? And/or why should the BT continue to enjoy such a favorable position?

Bucksfan's picture

From what I read, the Big Ten and Pac-12 had a variety of different types of options that they put out on the table.  But a good deal of what they wanted got incorporated into the new model: 1) The Rose Bowl, and the rest of the bowls, are part of the post-season. And I believe that the B1G and Pac-12 get the spots when it's not a semi-final.  2) There's a selection committee that puts weight into conference champions and no more BCS/coaches/Harris polls - this was a B1G idea, 3) the national championship gets bid-out.
If you compare this to what the rest of the college football world was suggesting, there really wasn't anything tangible.  The SEC was content with the BCS polling system and the top-4 only. In fact, that conference tried to strong-arm that model, and they actually lost out.
Does the new arrangement benefit the B1G?  I think so. It will certainly enable the B1G champion to enter the discussion of the national championship more frequently than it did in the BCS era.  Outside of Ohio State and 06 Michigan, no other Big Ten team came close to the top-2.  If we had a playoff, it's possible that Penn State or Wisconsin could have found their way into a playoff in at least one or two, maybe 3 or 4, other years ('98, '99, '05, '08?, '10).
Opening up the Rose Bowl in this fashion maintains the Rose Bowl tradition of being an important must-see bowl on New Years day.  It will almost always have a compelling matchup from this day forward, and it is going to have all of its pomp and circumstance preserved.  
In a non-semifinal year, let's say you have a 10-2 Iowa playing a 11-1 Penn State.  If Sparty upsets Penn State in the B1G championship game, Iowa probably goes to the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten champion.  So in that case, nothing has really changed.  If Penn State gets to 12-1 and enters the playoff, the Rose Bowl will still probably pick Iowa...again, not much different than what we have today (07 Illinois, for example).  In that case, Iowa gets to go to the Rose Bowl...something they haven't done since the early 1990s.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I'll take your points one at a time, if that's okay:

the B1G and Pac-12 get the [Rose Bowl] spots when it's not a semi-final. 

That's a fair point, but I question whether that constitutes "preserving the traditional Rose Bowl relationship." The Rose Bowl will be a semifinal every third year, often involving zero BT or P12 teams. Then, in the other two alternative years, one or both of the best teams in the BT/P12 will be playing elsewhere. I anticipate that the BT/P12 will have a little better access to the Rose Bowl than other conferences, but that the "traditional relationship" will be profoundly altered.

selection committee . . .  was a B1G idea,

This is a good point, but personally, I don't see the value with this. I know everyone on sports radio is arguing about rankings/computers versus selection committee, who ought to be on the commitee, ect. I also realize that the first time a #4 or #5 team gets left out, fans of those schools will question the selection format. But this issue is unavoidable no matter what selection process/criteria they use. In the grand scheme, it doesn't really matter which is used, and it doesn't - IMO - really advance the BT's interests to have a selection committee, whereas reducing the BT/P12 Rose Bowl access had potentially avoidable negative implications.

It will certainly enable the B1G champion to enter the discussion of the national championship more frequently than it did in the BCS era. 

Again, if the BT agrees to a 4 team playoff, the likelihood that one of its teams will make the championship "tournament" (4 teams instead of 2) goes up regardless of which model they use (e.g., home field semis or this model): When they bargained away part of their Rose Bowl property, you're suggesting that what they got in return was a value that every school will enjoy? That's fine if you/they are saying that any 4-team playoff suits the BT better than the (previous) status-quo, but that's not what they were saying a month ago. I'm still wondering on what specific issue, of unique/particular importance to the conference, that the BT got its way?

Opening up the Rose Bowl in this fashion maintains the Rose Bowl tradition of being an important must-see bowl on New Years day.  It will almost always have a compelling matchup from this day forward . . .

I'm not sure about that - I anticipate the Rose Bowl will have less favorable matchups overall. Sure, they'll have great matchups for the semifinals, but they'll have more frequent mediocre matchups in the off years. Before, your 10-3 Iowa team often would have played a 12-1 USC team in the Rose Bowl, but now that 12-1 USC team will likely be in the playoff with your 12-1 PSU team.
In summary, part of our disagreement here - if we have any - is that you're arguing the 4-team playoff is an improvement over the BCS. I agree. But, in the negotiations determining the model by which that playoff would be run, on those specific issues . . . it seems like the BT got rolled. I'm fine with them giving up some Rose Bowl access, but on what negotiation item was that concession justified?

Bucksfan's picture

The Big Ten didn't get rolled, dude.  You need to go back and reread all of the options that they brought to the table over the past 6 months.  It's more than the one headline about "status quo."  That was something the Presidents preferred.  Jim Delany originally proposed to get rid of the bowls and have the games on campus...the Presidents didn't like that...hell, the SEC didn't like that, even though it would have benefitted their conference more than all others.  All of these things were basically just public brainstorming.  Nothing was set in stone...until it was.
The idea of doing away with the BCS, setting up a selection committee, and adding weight to conference championships was all the B1G's doing.  You question whether it serves the interests of the B1G.  I don't know why...it's pretty obvious.  The B1G is a HUGE part of college football, right?  This plan benefits college football as a whole right?  It increases the conference's access to the national championship, right?  Then how does it not benefit the B1G?
The Big Ten/Pac-10 relationship with the Rose Bowl is an antiquated, irrelevant relationship that in my opinion actually hurts their reputation more than it helps them.  It is traditional.  It is a cash cow.  It is a lot of fun.  It is also a meaningless exhibition.  I think the B1G used the Rose Bowl as a bargaining chip to get what they really wanted.  I'm wondering how much they really care about it, considering Jim Delany sees the universe in dollar signs, and he gets a boner when he compares the Rose Bowl's $Millions to the the Playoff's $Billions.

Maestro's picture

vacuuming sucks

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Bucksfan: "doing away with the BCS, setting up a selection committee, and adding weight to conference championships" all fall under one item - using the selection committee. Any selection committee was always going to: A). End the need for a BCS-style composite ranking system; B). consider factors such as whether the teams under consideration won their respective conferences. Maybe the selection process was the only contentious matter under debate, but at one time the various stakeholders claimed to have some serious distance between each other. 
I don't see how the use of a selection commitee especially benefits the Big Ten compared to other selection processes. If that's the negotiation item the BT "won," maybe the various parties were just pretending to have serious differences a few months back?
If not, what were the other items under discussion? I'm not saying that the BT necessarily got rolled in the negotiations (again, it was assumed that there would be a 4-team playoff; the negotiations were over what model would be used); it just looks that way from here (obviously, I wasn't privvy to the internal discussions).  

Bucksfan's picture

I don't see how the use of a selection commitee especially benefits the Big Ten compared to other selection processes. If that's the negotiation item the BT "won," maybe the various parties were just pretending to have serious differences a few months back?

Umm, I thought I already explained that the SEC wanted a BCS top-4 only.  That's a big difference from a conference champions-only playoff Delany originally suggested, and the selection committee compromise that ultimately came to fruition (again, a B1G suggestion). Did you miss that when you were arguing with my points line by line?

Run_Fido_Run's picture

No, I didn't miss it. I realize my comment at 4:54 (above) was painfully long, but here's what I wrote in reference to you mentioning the selection commitee as a BT victory in the negotiations:

This is a good point, but personally, I don't see the value with this. I know everyone on sports radio is arguing about rankings/computers versus selection committee, who ought to be on the commitee, ect. I also realize that the first time a #4 or #5 team gets left out, fans of those schools will question the selection format. But this issue is unavoidable no matter what selection process/criteria they use. In the grand scheme, it doesn't really matter which is used, and it doesn't - IMO - really advance the BT's interests to have a selection committee, whereas reducing the BT/P12 Rose Bowl access had potentially avoidable negative implications.

To be honest, I had been reading the BT's stance against "top 4" as partly a negotiation ploy, but it looks like I was wrong, because the BT didn't seem to "win" on any other items. Assuming the BT supported a selection committee (and didn't just fall back to this position when Delany's public preference for a 3+1 auto selection did not gain adequate support), while the SEC supported "top 4," this is a win for the BT's position in the argument - a point I've been clearly granting - but I don't see how it helped the BT's strategic position. Maybe you can explain it to me: will the BT get more invites to the tourney under a selection committee v. a "top 4" or a "3+1"? And on what basis do assert that?

Bucksfan's picture

I already gave you examples of years where the Big Ten would have likely had a team selected to a playoff had this one been in place.  Other people have gone over this extensively, too.  There was an article discussed in one of the Skull Sessions this week, too, by a guy named Hinton.  OR, you could go back and look at the polls yourself.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I check those out, but are they assuming they know how a selection committee would have made their selections in those years? They're a hell of a lot better prognisticators than I'll ever be.
[Edit: also, are they saying the BT would have had more teams in a 4 team playoff than a 2 team BCS? Naturally, that'd be the case. Or did they try to demonstrate that the BT would have had more selections in the past if we'd used a selection committee versus a "top 4," which is what it's take to demonstrate that the selection committee, versus "top 4," was a strategic win for the BT].

pcon258's picture

i love how often he uses "by golly." thats really what i took out of this interview....

buckeyedude's picture

Tressel would be proud. Only thing missing: "and so forth."