“It occupies a lot of my time. It's a big hire. We have to hit a home run with this next hire.” -Urban Meyer
I've been back and forth on Ash. He hasn't really done much in terms of producing an elite defense but he has produced very good ones. I was bummed to hear Georgia got FSU's NC Defensive Coordinator on the same day as we got Ash. I would have liked to had the #1 guy, no doubt. But if Meyer's going to stick with Fickell, he's not going to be able to bring in a high profile guy because he's paying Luke too much. So it wasn't going to happen. But why the hell stick with Luke?
It seems that Meyer really has a lot of respect for Fickell. He even went out of his way to say that before the Orange bowl. That struck me as very strange. Why would Meyer respect someone so much while the defense just ruined a perfect season? I imagine there was a conversation following the B1G championship that went a bit like this.
Meyer: "You're not going to be calling the plays next year at Ohio State. I'm bringing in a new defensive coordinator to replace Everett. He will be the new #1 coach on defense. I understand if you'd like to seek another position outside our team."
Fickell: "Yes, I understand Coach. I think that's what is best for the team. We didn't perform as a unit as I expected and I completely agree with your decision. However, I am a Buckeye though and though and if there is any chance to stay and be a part of this great team, I will take it."
Meyer: "So you are going to pass up a head coaching job and basically get demoted, just to stay here, and be the linebackers' coach?"
Fickell: "Yes, Sir."
It's obvious that Luke wants to stay in Columbus and isn't looking for a head coaching job. I think his year as head coach traumatized him because he wasn't ready to take the reigns. Now, he knows his place. He's done everything Meyer has asked him and that's where he gets his respect. He failed at putting a decent defense on the field but he knows that, and he's taking a back seat to Ash.
Besides, the linebackers were held together with duct tape and crazy glue this year and still performed above expectations. All the while, Luke sends an average Florida kid to the first round and recruits one of the finest LB classes in the history of Buckeye football. He's a damn good linebackers' coach. He's just not ready to call the defense or be a head coach. It's a shame we had to learn about the defense part this year.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Fickell take a pay cut and keep the co-title. Meyer already has great recruiters on the staff, he needed a play caller. Enter Chris Ash. He comes highly recommended by Tom Herman. He's really only had a couple seasons calling plays with Wisconsin and one blunder with BERT at Arkansas. He's young, and he's never had the keys to the Ferrari. Well Mr. Ash, it's your time.
My opinion on this soap opera will be decided by the results. There is no use talking about Fickell anymore because he's irrelevant. You can now focus your attention to our new defensive leader. This will be the B1G question for the next 2 years. Will Chris Ash be able to salvage the defense? He better.