The Replacements: Candidates for the Two Open Spots on Ohio State's Staff

By Jeff Beck on January 10, 2014 at 11:30a

With the departure of defensive line coach Mike Vrabel and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers, the Ohio State coaching staff suddenly has two vacancies on the defensive side of the ball.

Withers wasn’t a surprise as his name was linked to coaching gigs from the get-go, but Vrabel’s exit was a bit of a shock. One of Ohio State’s best recruiters, a tenacious and talented young coach, and a Buckeye alum, the popular belief was Vrabel would stay at Ohio State for far longer than three years. Alas, it was not meant to be. Luckily it sounds like his departure will not affect the decisions of a few key recruits in the 2014 class. 

Urban Meyer stated in a pre-Orange Bowl presser his replacement for Withers needs to be a “home-run hire”. Now, Meyer is tasked with hitting back-to-back jacks. So what names are being tossed around to fill the two open positions?  

Vance Joseph

Current position: Unemployed (due to Bill O’Brien’s blanket firings of the Texans staff)

Resume: Joseph spent the last three years as the Houston Texans defensive backs coach. In each year of his tenure Houston ranked third in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (195). In his first two seasons his unit held the competition to a league-low 52.5 completion percentage. In 2013, the Texans ranked third in the league in yards per pass attempt (6.8), and in total yards allowed (3,123).

Prior to his time in Houston, Joseph served as a San Francisco 49ers secondary assistant before being promoted to secondary coach in 2006, a position he held for 4 seasons. Before his NFL days Joseph was a GA for the Colorado Buffaloes (1999-2001), Secondary Coach for the Wyoming Cowboys (2002), DB Coach for the Colorado Buffaloes (2002-2003) and DB Coach for the Bowling Green Falcons (2004).

Why He’s A Good Fit: If there’s one area that gave Buckeye Nation heart attacks week-after-week it was the defensive backfield. It’s clear Joseph knows how to whip a secondary into shape and he’s done it at the highest level for seven seasons. In the aforementioned presser, Meyer said his replacement for Withers will probably be a safeties coach/co-defensive coordinator. Joseph could fit that bill quite nicely.

John Chavis (“The Chief”)

Current position: Defensive Coordinator and LB Coach of the LSU Tigers

Resume: With 33 years of coaching experience to his name, Chavis is certainly a seasoned vet. For the past five seasons he’s fielded a top defense in college football’s toughest conference. Three times in his five year tenure Chavis’ defenses have ranked in the top 12 nationally in total yards and scoring. In 2011, The Chief orchestrated an unreal season, finishing the year ranked in the top five in the nation in total defense (No. 2), scoring defense (No. 2) pass efficiency defense (No. 3) and rushing defense (No. 5). The performance earned Chavis the 2011 Broyles National Assistant Coach of the Year Award.

The ChiefCould "The Chief" be roaming the Buckeye sideline in 2014?

Chavis has produced seven first-team All Americans, nine first- team All-SEC players and has seen five individuals drafted in the first round of the NFL draft (19 players overall). Last April, LSU made history, becoming the first school to see six defensive players selected in the first three rounds.

Before coaching at LSU, Chavis spent 19 years at Tennessee first as a DL/LB coach and then as a Defensive Coordinator/LB coach. From 1986-1988 he served as Alabama State’s DC and from 1980-1983 he held the title of DL coach for Alabama A&M.

Why He’s A Good Fit: Over the past two seasons OSU has featured a bend (and sometimes break) defense. That’s not Chavis’ style. The Chief runs an incredibly aggressive system rooted in speed and physicality up-front. Chavis wants to hit the QB, then he wants to hit him again. There’s also no denying the best defenses are currently playing in the SEC. Bringing on an SEC lifer could inject a different personality into the current Silver Bullets. The Buckeyes have the athletes to do it, they just need a leader willing to coach with that philosophy. Chavis is that coach.

Mike Tressel

Current Position: LB and Special Teams Coach of the Michigan State Spartans

Resume: Tressel just finished his seventh season coaching the linebackers and special teams in East Lansing. Over the past three seasons Michigan State has led the B1G in total defense and rushing defense. More impressively, the Spartans have ranked in the top 10 in the country in terms of total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense over the past three years. Tressel’s linebackers have been a huge part of that success. 

Before heading to Michigan State, Tressel worked as the LB/ Special Teams coach for Cincinnati from 2004-2006 and as a GA Assistant LB coach for the Buckeyes from 2002-2003 (a pretty good year for the Silver Bullets if memory serves me correctly).

Why He’s A Good Fit: First and foremost he’s The Senator’s nephew. That’s got to count for something in Columbus. Secondly, Tressel is a damn good coach. To do what the Spartans’ D has done over the last three seasons is incredibly impressive and Tressel heads a lynch-pin unit on that squad. He’s relatively young, experienced and knows the B1G. His hire would help shore up a LB corps that has underperformed in recent years and the Buckeyes would be chiseling away at the defensive juggernaut D’antonio has built in East Lansing. Win win.

Randy Hart

Current Position: Defensive Line Coach of the Stanford Cardinal

Resume: Hart boasts 44 seasons of experience as a collegiate coach with the last four coming as a member of the Cardinal staff. In 2013 Stanford led the nation in sacks with 44, came in at third in the country in rushing defense (89.7 yards/game), was fifth in the nation in tackles for loss (107) and was 16th in the country in total defense (343.5 yards/game).

In 2012 Stanford tallied an NCAA best and school-record 57 sacks and led the Pac-12 in scoring defense (17.2 points/game), total defense (336.2 yards/game), rushing defense (97 yards/game), sacks (4 per game) and tackles for loss (9 per game). The performance earned Hart’s Defensive Line Coach of the Year honors.

During his impressive tenure, Hart coached on nine Rose Bowl teams and 25 bowl teams overall. Before coaching at Stanford, Hart served as the DL coach at Notre Dame (2009), worked in a myriad of roles for Washington from 1988-2008 (DL, Assistant Head Coach, DC), was the DL coach at Ohio State (1982-1987), was the DL coach for the Boilermakers (1977-1981) was the DL coach for Iowa State (1973-1976), was the offensive line coach at the University of Tampa (1972) and served as a GA under Woody Hayes at Ohio State (1970).

Why He’s A Good Fit: In addition to being a phenomenal coach, Hart is a Buckeye. He grew up in Cleveland, earned a bachelor’s and master’s from Ohio State, was a three-year letter winner for Woody Hayes at OG, was part of the 1969 Rose Bowl squad, reeled in his first coaching position under Woody and served as Earle Bruce’s DL coach from 1982-1987.

If that’s not enough, Hart also has a relationship with Urban Meyer, serving on the same staff at Ohio State in 1986 and 1987. With Hart the Scarlet and Gray would be landing a premiere talent who is also a Buckeye through and through…priceless.

Jim Heacock

Current Position: Unemployed/Defensive Consultant For Ohio State

Resume: Not much can be said here that Buckeye fans don’t already know. Serving as DL coach at Ohio State from 1996-2004 and then as Defensive Coordinator from 2005-2012, Heacock shepherded some of the finest Silver Bullet squads to ever play in the 'Shoe.

In his seven year tenure as DC, the Ohio State defense ranked in the top 15 nationally in yards given up per game six times. In 2007 the Buckeyes were No. 1 in the country conceding just 225 yards per game and earning Heacock the Broyles National Assistant Coach of the Year award.

His accolades and accomplishments are too many to name. Simply put, Heacock has succeeded at producing an unbelievable defense in every year he roamed the sidelines on the banks of the Olentangy.

Why He’s A Good Fit: This is a no-brainer. He’s available. He’s basically a legend in Columbus, and he knows how to produce. If Heacock wants to get back into the hustle, he would be Urban’s “home-run” and then some.

Any one of these hires would ultimately help the Buckeyes shore up their defensive problems. It should be an interesting month or so on the coaching carousel, but if Urban is able to complement his explosive offense with strong instructors on the defensive side of the ball, the Buckeyes could be headed to an appearance in the first ever college football playoff.


Comments Show All Comments

BAR43's picture

Wonder is losing Vrabel hurts our chances more for Solomon Thomas.
Additionally, the SEC does have good defenses, but I will put MSU defense against anyone's in the SEC. Let's not overlook Iowa's too.

willshire58's picture

Couldn't hurt too bad if we took Stanford's D-Line Coach.

ScoobyKnows's picture

And he's a Buckeye so it's a win win!  Very interesting to see what Urban will do.


Do we actually have a shot at Chavis? I'd for one be happy with anyone on this list, especially Tressel's nephew.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Joe4's picture

That was my question too.  Does he have any ties to the area that would make him want to come here?  Or is the idea that we'd just offer him a boatload of money?

DefendYoungstown's picture

"It's Ohio freaking State", maybe that will be enough...

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

GH_Lindsey's picture

I seriously doubt it. It wouldn't even be a lateral move, it'd downwards one (assuming we're not stripping Fickell of his co-DC title). I guess maybe the asst. head coach title could make up for that, but I doubt it.

DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if it is difficult for a former NFL coach to get used to the recruiting lifestyle?
It would be nice to get two guys from this list. Chavis to DC, along with one of the secondary guys. Move Fick solely to DL.

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.

"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

TNBuckeye1421's picture

Tony Barnhart said that Meyer was in serious talks with "a great recruiter from a school east of here..." on his radio show this past Saturday. Barnhar's show is based out of Atlanta so im guessing UGA... who would he be talking about?

gumtape's picture

What about Bill Sheridan?
Remember our LB coach for three weeks?

High and tight boo boo

2002osubuck's picture

He was gonna be the DB coach before we got Coombs, if I remember correctly. Then he took the NFL job right after, like you said. I like Hart, he's a great coach and a buckeye. I know Heacock has a great eye for talent, picking guys like hankins, lauranaitus and hawk who weren't highly ranked, but wonder about the non-stop recruiting Meyer wants from his assistants and how these guys compare. 

BassDropper's picture

I mentioned this is another thread, but in 2010 (the year before Joseph was the coach) the Texans finished 32nd in the NFL in pass defense - his first year as the Texans DB coach the Texans finished 3rd in pass defense and held strong the next 2 seasons
Do want.


2002osubuck's picture

I like Joseph, he obviously a great DB coach. My main concern is that we fill the spots with top recruiters as well, and I don't know anything about how he is in that department. If we could get him and then a proven recruiter, like Thigpen the LBs coach at Tennessee, that would be two great additions to the staff. I also like some of the other guys, Hart and Heacock specifically, because they've got deep OSU ties and are great coaches. Again, my concern is replacing the recruiting vrabel and withers provided. Either way we need one guy to be a co-D coordinator and fill the other spot with a great position coach and recruiter. We've recruited alot of DBs and LBs the last few classes, so it's important we get guys that'll maximize that talent. 

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Not addressing specifically your post, but if there was ever ample film footage that recruiting, while extremely important, still runs second to coaching, this would be a great year to watch such footage.

dubjayfootball90's picture

niceinformative background on all candidates. good write up

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

carence's picture

I agree. The more I hear about these other coaches getting jobs and nothing coming out of Columbus makes me nervous about missing out on some of these guys.

TheNorthernBuckeye's picture

I know play on the field comes before anything but in anyones opinion which of these candidates if any, can fill the recruiting void the best?

Stay the course 

DefendOhio's picture

I'm curious as to why Chavis would consider OSU? Wouldn't that be a lateral move? I guess at the end of the day money always talks. 

BAR43's picture

Money... TTUN just snatched Bama's OC and that would appear lateral, maybe even down a bit.

Oyster's picture

He is setting himself up for a HC job in the near future by taking the ttun job.  Fix a broken program and then sit back and wait. 

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

BigMoosie's picture

Chavis has always said in the past he had no interest in a HC position. I know that can always change but that's coming from the horse's mouth.

Oyster's picture

Sorry, I was talking about Nuss and a reason for leaving Bama in a lateral move.  I didn't use his name at first because I couldn't spell it!

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

vitaminB's picture

I'm pretty sure Nuss was about to get fired, but I would still say that unemployment to TTUN is a lateral move.

DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

Vitamin, you are spot on.
It is laughable the UM fans think they "stole" Bama's OC. It has been well documented here in Alabama that Saban and Nuss never saw eye to eye. One major issue that has been reported is Nuss's inability to hande Saban's in game intensity. From what I have read, when things would get dicey during a game, Saban would get fired up over the head sets. Apparently Nuss would "go into a shell" with his play calling after Saban challenged him. All that to say, Nuss was on his way out of Bama. Apparently Saban even began shopping his name amongst the coaching circles. The UM hire was a nice way to make it look like Nuss was leaving on his own. Basically the same situation we had with Withers.

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.

"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

From what I have read, when things would get dicey during a game, Saban would get fired up over the head sets. Apparently Nuss would "go into a shell" with his play calling after Saban challenged him.

Well he's certainly going to the right place if he doesn't want to listen to the HC through headsets.

GoBucksOSU's picture

I'm just wondering if Urban has interest in Chavis. I don't think it would be worth bringing up his name otherwise.

teddyballgame's picture

ttun didn't snatch anything, michigan just had to overpay for someone that saban didn't even want anymore

builderofcoalitions's picture

I agree. In fact, it's not a lateral move at all. He would go from DC to co-DC. If OSU were replacing Fickell and Withers, I would say it was possible, but not for a co-DC post.

Because we couldn't go for three.

Condor's picture

Chavis wouldn't be a "co-" anything. If he's in then Fickell is either demoted or out.

"Do not fear me gypsy, all I want is your tears."

 -- Borat Sagdiyev


whalewars's picture

Pay chavis or Narduzzi whatever it takes. 

TresselourgodUrbanoursavior's picture

Don't think Narduzzi would go for it, since he turned down a UCONN job that is paying Diaco 1.5 mill a year.

fear_the_nut70's picture

Narduzzi is a pipe dream (and a name no one else is throwing around).
Nothing to see here.

Hovenaut's picture

That's a fine list, wouldn't mind any of these gents coming (back) aboard.

MattyBeingMatty's picture

Dream scenario:
Move Fickel to DL coach, take away DC and make him assistant HC (Withers former title), hire Joseph for DB's, HIRE DJ DURKIN FOR LB'S AND DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR!

“Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world, I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick." -TP

HattanBuck85's picture

Are we sharing the same dream? Weird...

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." - Woody Hayes

rdubs's picture

I believe Withers was Co-DC and Drayton is Asst HC.  

MattyBeingMatty's picture

Withers was Co-DC and Assistant HC. Drayton is the Assistant HC for Offense. 
Bottom of the page:
Easy mix up though because we have so many Assistant HC + Co-coordinators. 

“Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world, I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick." -TP

FLAMikey's picture

Yes...Joseph for DB's - ALL of the DB's (hint, hint)

Brutus' Left Nut's picture

I think dream scenario would be Dick Lebau as DC.  Joseph to come in seems like a slam dunk especially since he will have strong ties in Texas from his Texans days and that could help soften the blow if/when Herman gets a HC job. 

Jabba the Hoke's picture

How many ties to Texas high school football coaches could a NFL coach really have?

BuckeyeStrong2's picture

My dream scenario: only having ONE DC!


bubpy222's picture

Lets get Mel Tucker.

W-burgbuck's picture

I would love to see Chavis as DC and LB coach along with Travaris Robinson coaching the Def backs. Then of course Fickel would coach D line. Even if Fickel keeps co in front of his title Chavis would have to be the one in control. Would also love to see Vance Joseph as DC and Db coach Thigpen to LBS and Fickel to D line


sivaDavis's picture

Heacock and Joseph. They would have the defense flying!!

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

Ohio State Ombre's picture

would be a dream scenario for sure.

osu07asu10's picture

That's what I said in another forum. They may loose a little bit in the recruiting department with Heacock but I would think Joseph to be a more than capable recruiter and the continuity from Heacock would off-set the dip in recruiting from him.
If Heacock isn't an option, I like Joseph still and then toss Mike Tressel in there to work with Fickell.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

NeilAve's picture

Well first of what kind of coaching list is a list that doesn't mention john Gruden lol. 
Anyways I can't help but think what a good combination joseph and Vrable would have been And Then fickel taking LB.but since that can't happen.....
Chavis would be a good get. Would Like to see a home run regardless

Furious George 27's picture

I like Heacock..... But wasn't Fickell mentored by him, so what real change would come about? I believe he employs the same Zone D that we hate and gave up leads in the USC, Illinois and Texas (Fiesta) games late just to name a few. 2007-2012 is also right about the time of the decline of the Big 10 so I think it is fair to say that the stats maybe misleading because I can think of some blowout losses as well under his direction. I think it would be best to move forward with fresh faces.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

BuckeyeDale's picture

Exactly, and let's not forget that Heacock was the ONLY DC in 2011 when Fickel stepped up.  and the numbers were not pretty.
Also, when LF got promoted to DC, I was kind of under the impression it was to add some youthful aggression to Heacock's more passive D. 


tennbuckeye19's picture

Nothing went right in 2011. I don't pin that on Heacock, or Fickell. It was a bad year all around.

osu07asu10's picture

Exactly, and let's not forget that Heacock was the ONLY DC in 2011 when Fickel Fickell stepped up.  and the numbers were not pretty.

What wasn't "pretty" about a Top 20 defense in 2011?
Furthermore, that defense in 2011 also ranked 14th in the nation in passing 
In 2011, the D gave up 182 ypg passing with Heacock as DC compared to 262 ypg this past season

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

Furious George 27's picture

OSU only held 4 teams (Akron, Colorado, MSU and Illinois) under 20 points in 2011. At best they were decent and that is being kind. OSU was a top 20 D for a while this year as well.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

osu07asu10's picture

Yeah, they were a top 20 all season long in 2011, don't let numbers get in the way of a good argument though...

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

BuckToAsT's picture

I hear you, but wasn't offense our biggest issue in 2011?  The "Clown Show?"

Condor's picture

I know Spielman isn't HC material, but what about as a position coach? As a recruiter I bet parents would love him.

"Do not fear me gypsy, all I want is your tears."

 -- Borat Sagdiyev


jschaeff23's picture

Love the idea of having Spielman, but I think with his son starting to play college ball he would probably rather stay in the broadcast booth

JozyMozy's picture

He's not gonna dive back into football beyond broadcasting/his charities. I love the man, but in my opinion, this just isn't something he needs. 

ChazBuckeye's picture

All I care about is the new hire can coach. Someone who coach man to man/man press and teach proper tackling techniques...that be nice.

Edit: My list in order...
The Chief Chavis-proven
Vance Joseph-also proven and at the next level
Mike Tress-I'd like this one too;-)
Randy Hart-Not sure...but OSU ties are there so...
and Jim H-cock;-) I would also like this one but it's not likely to happen. He's not into recruiting. Not going to happen...even though I'd love it if he was willing.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

RedStorm45's picture

Isn't Fred Pagac looking for a job with Frazier getting canned in Minny?

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

i think frazier was hired in tampa.  pagac may tag along. ??

Read my entire screen name....

jschaeff23's picture

There’s also no denying the best defenses are currently playing in the SEC

LSU defense is in the top of the country, but most of the SEC defenses are crap.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Bama's defense had a few so-so to bad games (TAM, Auburn, Oklahoma), but they were still pretty darn good.
Also, as much as I criticize the eSECpn-ization of college football, you do kind of have to grade SEC defenses on a curve (although that curve shouldn't be too generous). So, when UGA's defense looked like it had a pulse against Nebraska, and Auburn looked stout in the first half against FSU, it's not a big shock. 

Buckeye Scottie's picture

Listening to The Fan, they brought up Larry Johnson Sr (assuming Franklin is hired at PSU and lets him go) & Ed Orgeron.  Johnson has proven track record for being one of the best DL coaches in the country and solid recruiter.  Orgeron is legendary for his recruiting as well as some HC experience for the dumpster fire at USC. 
Can't say I would be upset with those two either.  Admittedly, I don't know a lot about Vance Joseph, but he seems to be a solid coach as well.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

This story about Ed Orgeron's first day at Ole Miss back in 2005 is supposedly either fabricated or exaggerated, but it's funny.

W-burgbuck's picture

Reading that story puts into perspective just how thin the lines between genius, psychopath and idiot really are. Could you imagine being in that room... When I come back in here...


TimmyZ's picture

that's fantastic.

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Funny as hell. Still way, way more PC than Jackie Sherrill having his team watch a bull get castrated, but to each his own.

Olemissbuckeye's picture

This story was confirmed by multiple sources as I recall (I had recently gradiated from Ole Miss and lived in MS, devouring all of the local coverage). It was neither fabricated or exaggerated to the best of my knowledge. Amongst Ole Miss fans I believe it is common knowledge that yes, that $h!t happened.

OSUFlash's picture

Chavis or Heacock are my final two. Sleeper is the Mayor.


Doc's picture

In y opinion I think we need some new blood. Heacock and Pagac were great, but we need someone new. The Chief and the dude that got shit canned from the Texans would be my two picks. We need to lock these guys down and quick. 

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

CowCat's picture

All of these guys would be good hires.
However, Urban is probably going to have to shuffle the deck a bit.  The "defense with two heads" has not worked for two years.  Why would it suddenly work now? 
In particular, why do we have separate coaches for Cornerbacks and Safeties?   That makes no sense to me.   Against all of these Air-Raid/Spread offenses we face, the secondary needs to function as one cohesive unit.
So, hopefully we get ...
Defensive coordinator / DBs:   New coach
Linebackers:  Luke Fickell or other coach
DL:  To be hired
Special teams:  Kerry Coombs.   Coach Coombs does a great job, but having two DB coaches is not ideal.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

3-yrds_and_a_CLOUD's picture

I agree that we need a new DB coach and Coombs should focus all his energy on recruiting and the special teams. I do think that the CODC thing can work and has worked in the past, but it always seemed one was the actual DC with the other just sharing the title and being more of an assistant DC.

“Success is the inner satisfaction and peace of mind that come from knowing I did the best I was capable of doing for the group.”
- Jim Tressel

another-navy-buckeye's picture

I hope its the end to the CoDC title. Never been a fan of it.  If there is one that makes all the calls and one that doesn't that defeats the purpose of a Co anything.  "Too many chiefs" type situation IMO. We need a strong hire to fill the sole DC position, so this lateral move that many are talking about really starts to disappear.  Then make another strong hire for the DL.


bull1214's picture

is this an ACTUAL known list or the writers best guess? it seems to me theres some very "dream-like" guys on there like chavis and a couple others like heacock that just dont seem like an urban kind of move.

cuttyrock's picture

The Chief and Vance Bedford would be great. The Chief actually would be a great hire.

AllDay028's picture

No denying the SEC has the best defenses? Have you watched the SEC this year. Outside of Florida there is a lot of optional defense.

OSUBias's picture

I'd be curious how many of these guys have any interest in the job.
Chavis would be a downward lateral (DC to Co-DC)
Joseph would be a downward lateral (NFL DB coach to college DB coach), unless he gets Co-DC title
Hart is a straight lateral unless we give him a Co-DC title and then hire just a DB coach
Tressel coaches LB's, so he'd either be taking a lateral to coach a new area (DL) or we'd have to switch the position coach responsibilities between him and Fickell. Also, Dantonio's guys seem to be really loyal to the beast he's building up there
Heacock, I don't think could keep up with the recruiting pace Urban wants, and also coaches the kind of passive defense that Fickell likes and Urban seems to want to get away from.
My lateral, downward lateral is based on my perspective of responsibilities, not compensation. So perhaps that's a factor for some. Also, Urban's coaching tree is quite large and if these guys have head coaching aspirations, perhaps that plays a role as well. I'm hoping for 2 home run hires, because we need serious help on that side of the ball.
I'm betting we get more of a Herman type hire, where we're all sort of surprised at first.
Any guesses at timing for these hires? Seems like we want/need them in place prior to signing day to at least have a final staff in place.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

Jordan Wagner's picture

Randy Hart would be a good hire as DL/AHC. Former Buckeye. Ties to the state. The only real negative is he will soon by 66. He is considered a good recruiter, ranked third in the Pac 12 by 247Sports. Is well respected on the west coast. FootballScoop named him the top defensive line coach last season. Urban Meyer connection. Has defensive coordinator experience and (in my opinion) this defensive staff needs all the experience it can get. 


whobdis's picture

I thought Hart had to be getting up there..he sure has aged.  My picks would be Tressel and Joseph.

bergy22's picture

Chavis as THE D coordinator, Fickell to AHC. Secondary coach will be a name we haven't heard mentioned yet.

teddyballgame's picture

Heacock might help the defense, but I can't see him being excited to hit the recruiting trail and trying to connect with 17 year old kids.
Vance Joseph seems like a good candidate...

DannyBeane's picture

In a perfect world Fickell finds a job as head coach and then we buy up Chavis, Vance, and Tressel go undefeated during the regular season, win the B1G championship, steam roll our way through the playoffs and then destroy the sacrificial offering at the Championship game and then we celebrate with a few pints at the Winchester.

Buckeye Chuck's picture

I appreciate the work, but these names seem to range from unlikely to very unlikely.
Joseph: Has been in the NFL for 8 years; I see little chance he'd come back to college just to be a position coach 
Chavis: Lateral move, has only ever worked in the South
M. Tressel: Arguably a lateral move, has been with Dantonio for a solid decade, surname and time here as a grad asst. are his only ties to OSU
Heacock: Age, uncertain level of passion for the job
Hart: Age, defense was not the hallmark of Earle Bruce's teams

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

teddyballgame's picture

Agree with some of your assessments, but I wouldn't rule out Hart.  Forget about the 80s and Earl Bruce...that's ancient history.  What has he done lately with Stanford?  Their rise to the national scene is pretty much correlated with his arrival there and they are known for a good defense.  He also recruits well in the PAC-12.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

M. Tressel: Arguably a lateral move, has been with Dantonio for a solid decade, surname and time here as a grad asst. are his only ties to OSU

No, it's not arguable - any comparable job at Ohio State is a big step up from having that job at MSU.

OldColumbusTown's picture

Clancy Pendergast is another name.  Has been an NFL DC for the Arizona Cardinals (in '08 when they went to the Super Bowl) and KC Chiefs.  He went to Cal and immediately turned them into the top defense in the PAC-10.  In his first year at USC last season he helped them improve all the way to the 13th-ranked defense in the nation.  He also was the secondary coach last year at USC, if I'm not mistaken.
Uses a 52 concept, which is more of a 3-4, though it sounds somewhat similar to what Ohio State does with their Viper position.  His time at Cal was 3 years, and his D was very good the first two years, but fell off a cliff in '12.  His defenses are always attacking and he does tend to turn things around quickly when he steps in.

GH_Lindsey's picture

Pendergast doesn't do recruiting from what I understand, which I'm guessing would disqualify him pretty quickly for Urban

UrbanAssaultVehicle's picture

Heacock did have Urban on his staff at Illinois State in the early 90's so there is definitely a connection there.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if he was brought on in some capacity more than his current consultant role.  You have to think Urban would want a tireless recruiter at is co-DC position though.  Especially to fill the Vrabel void. 

tcm1968's picture

Heacock = no. The game moved passed him. He's on the record dozens of times saying spread is a gimmick that he doesn't have an answer for. Five-ten years ago it was a gimmick. Today pretty standard to see it or some version of it every week.
Tressel : if he's qualified sure but have no interest in hiring "the Senator's nephew" just because of who he is. How's Earl Bruce's grandson working out? WR play at a several decade low. How Zach Smith escapes the "coach who should be let go" talk amazes me.
We need a guy who can call plays, control the defense from rotation to calling blitzes and who can recruit. Would be nice if we could find someone with the Super Bowl rings like Vrabel ( that stuff should not matter but listening to kids it absolutely does ) but that's probably wishful thinking. 
Until proven otherwise still think SEC style teams are who we are going to face in a playoff if we want to raise the crystal. Would love to go out and get someone who can recruit the heck out of the South and who has been in the trenches calling blitzes and rotations in the SEC.

BuckToAsT's picture

"How Zach Smith escapes the 'coach who should be let go' talk amazes me."
I agree; though I'm inclined to see what his recruits can accomplish on the field next year.

d5k's picture

The WR play bottomed out before Zach got here and his guys aren't on the field yet.  They have actually improved both years he has been here.  They went from clown show -> serviceable -> half-decent.  If WR's underperform next year then there's a problem as the depth of talent should be significantly better.

BenArazi4's picture

Agree, do not want Heacock.  My dream would be Chavis as DC/LB coach and Joseph as DB coach.  Move Fickell to DL (no assistant titles, hasn't earned it!) and Coombs to special teams.  Let Chavis and Joseph run the show here.




UrbanPirate's picture

One name left off this list that I believe would be an ultimate home run would be Mike Stoops. I believe he was Urban's first choice for DC while assembling his staff, offering Stoops the job following his firing from Arizona, though he ultimately chose to rejoin his brother Bob at Oklahoma, reassuming the same DC job he left years earlier. Prior to M Stoops' return, OU's defense had suffered a major decline in production and overall attitude that had previously been the staple of the early 2000s dominate teams (similar to OSU's current state), but in just 2 years M Stoops has transformed the Sooner D back into an intimidating force-highlighted by the recent Sugar Bowl victory over the invincible* Alabama.
So of course, being a defensive mastermind with a proven record of quick turn around capability-who's specialty is with DBs to boot-there's no denying he'd be a perfect hire for the Buckeyes, but would there be a realistic chance of luring him away from a position under his older brother at a school he's put decade's worth of time into? I say yes. First of all, he's Ohio born and bred (his dad coached HS ball in Youngstown), and he has B1G ties; earning two time All-Big 10 honors and started his coaching as a GA at Iowa. As for leaving OU, I would assume he has aspirations to get another opportunity to be a HC again after his less than stellar first attempt at UofA-especially with his younger brother getting the Kentucky HC job last year-but to this point, his only real achievements have been solely in one place, so it's not unreasonable that he could see Ohio State as a platform to show off his skills.
Lastly, bringing in Stoops would further strengthen pipelines in the south (esp Texas) as well as open new ones out west from his AZ days. 
Any thoughts?

Just... Go Bucks.


Joe Beale's picture

Mark Snyder is only 49, has Ohio roots, and has worked under Tressel and Dantonio at Ohio State.

steveinkc's picture

Why would Chavis leave LSU to come to Ohio State when he's being paid almost 1million a year??? Not happening!!


okiebuck's picture

Agree; no way Chavis comes north of the Mason Dixon line; he's an SEC lifer.
Mark Synder on the other hand would be a good fit; then move Fickel to either LB or DL.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

Roger's picture

> There’s also no denying the best defenses are currently playing in the SEC.

Uh, no. The SEC had abysmal defenses overall this year. LSU was the lone exception. 

weimerad's picture

I will be THRILLED if Urban can get Chavis as DC and Vance Joseph as DB coach. 
But why isn't anyone mentioning these 2 guys as DC candidates: Randy Shannon and Gene Chizik?

weimerad's picture

Also, Thigpen from Tennessee and Mel Tucker, who is supposedly on the outs with Chicago

Olemissbuckeye's picture

Did anyone ever read the book "Meat Market"? Ed Orgeron is a world class recruiter. Its also a hell of a good read by Bruce Feldman. Highly recommended for anyone interested in how recruiting sausage is made.

Bamabucknut's picture

One or two more "open spots" needed to be created in OSU's defensive coaches ranks.

Joe4's picture

This is a really helpful article. I sort of wish though for each possibility there was a section titled something like, "why he's a possibility" or something. For instance, I don't know anything about Vance Joseph beyond what I've read on this site. From what I can tell, he's been in the NFL for the last ten years. In those circumstances, it would seem to me like a return to college would be a longshot. Likewise, it's not clear to me why John Chavis would leave LSU. There might be good answers to these questions! I'd just love to see someone address that angle for each prospect.

Knarcisi's picture

I'd like to see us pick up Joseph. Someone needs to teach fundamentals and technique to these DBs. It's gone on too long with guys not being in position, missing assignments, missing tackles, and not turning around to play the ball. 

Sin City Buckeye's picture

NFL scout Matt Miller posted this a little while ago.

Been with Texas for 13 years. So you know he has major ties to the state of Texas.

Is there a difference between Viper and Leo? "No, we just thought Viper sounded cooler."---Former Buckeye Coach Mike Vrabel

swainpm's picture

Sin City Buck I have been saying this for a while. UT became DBU while under Akina and we will need those Texas HS coaching ties when Herman finally leaves for a better post. I just don't know if Urban has any connection whatsoever to Akina.

3-yrds_and_a_CLOUD's picture

I believe the best staff we can put together would be to have "The Chief", Chavis, come in as the DC/LB coach. I think he needs to be the main guy and Fickell can keep the title CODC but just as a title and mainly focusing on the DLine. Then bring in Vance Joseph as the secondary coach for safeties and CBs. Would be a really good Defensive staff that can really COACH these kids up, and still get after some recruits with more pipelines to texas and the south! Go Bucks and I will trust who ever Urban decides is the best fit.

“Success is the inner satisfaction and peace of mind that come from knowing I did the best I was capable of doing for the group.”
- Jim Tressel

Toilrt Paper's picture

Not surprising to me. Vrabel doesn't have to spend all of that time recruiting in the NFL AND he is a pro's pro. He is only 3 years removed from being an NFL starter. He got his coaching feet wet at Ohio State and is back at his first love.

tennesseebuckeye11's picture

I think this hire is more important than even recruiting, talent we got and can get, but clearly the deficit at OSU is the coaching, on the defensive side of the ball.  We need someone who can get these guys where they should be.

avail31678's picture

This, this and this.

tjbucvik23's picture

The above candidates sound great. I would suggest going for a young coach. Hart may be good but with 44 yrs of experience he's got to be near retirement. I choose Tressel. Youth will help us with recruiting. I also would strip Fickell of the DC title. I know it would be an embarrassment for him but he hasn't earned the title.

avail31678's picture

Anyone else kinda excited now?  Vrabel is tough to replace, and I don't really know about Withers.  But reading about these guys reminds me we have a real chance to quickly turn our weak spots on D around.  
11W staff: any updates like this you can provide would be great.  This was super informative and is as exciting as recruiting!  

VB Buckeye's picture

I don't know if he can be lured away but Harlon Barnett, the Secondary Coach at Michigan State, would be a Grand Slam. Michigan State's secondary this year was one of the best I have ever seen. 

Buckeye in a Bobcat world's picture

Chavis is out after reading Smith's comments about not having any $1 million coordinators anytime soon. 

Buckeye Black's picture

What about Ed Orgeron, he could certainly fill the recruiting gap. Not a bad defensive coach, either.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I'm not sure I want a guy that quit on his players because he didn't get his way.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

45buckshot's picture

I'm not sure i want an NFL guy; although spread and option offenses are trickling up to the NFL (San Fran is winning as we speak), he's probably not seen anything like some of the offenses he would have to stop in college. Every offense in the NFL is basically the same; the different kinds of offenses you have to prepare for at the college level is crazy. And yes, he is also unproven as a recruiter. But so was Vrabel. 
The only thing I'm sure I don't want is Heacock back. This is exactly the kind of lazy hiring that 11W's article posted today was claiming the B1g is turning around. I like Heacock, he helped us do great things, but he also coached the defense that caused 41-14. He was great against mid- to low-level talented B1g teams (meatchicken included ; ) but couldn't handle offenses at or above our talent level (Texas, USC, FL, LSU). You have to pressure teams like that. Or, i just hate zone defenses. As you like.
But I'm sure UM3 will hire somebody good; is sounds like he's taking his time. So I'm sure he'll get somebody that's a better fit and will be more aggressive. 
Go bucks.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton