Turns out, Urban Meyer was pretty serious.
“We will become a good passing team, we will. Next year,” Ohio State's head coach said minutes after Clemson stomped the Buckeyes 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl. J.T. Barrett completed 19-of-33 passes for just 127 yards and two interceptions that night, often running for his life against a stout Tiger front that wreaked havoc on the five men tasked with keeping the quarterback's jersey clean.
Meyer vowed his offense would be better in 2017 and planned to take a "hard look" at his staff configuration on that side of the ball upon his return to Columbus. A little more than a week later, he has a new quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in place.
|Past Coaches (Position)||New Hires (Position)|
|Luke Fickell (DC, LBs Coach)||Bill Davis (LBs Coach)|
|Tim Beck (Co-OC, QBs Coach)||Ryan Day (Co-OC, QBs Coach)|
|Ed Warinner (OC, TEs Coach)||Kevin Wilson (OC, TEs Coach)|
The program announced former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson as Ed Warinner's replacement at offensive coordinator and tight ends coach on Tuesday. The move had reportedly been in the works for more than a week, however. Wilson resigned from his post at Indiana on Dec. 1 following an investigation into his mistreatment of injured players increased the heat on his seat.
Tim Beck is now the quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator at Texas for Tom Herman, leaving almost immediately after the conclusion of Ohio State's season. The Buckeyes announced his replacement, Ryan Day, on Jan. 3. Day will also help Wilson coordinate the offense.
A former graduate assistant under Meyer at Florida in 2005, Day spent the last two years in the NFL. He worked with the quarterbacks of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 for Chip Kelly, then followed the head coach to San Francisco this past season in the same role.
Let's not forget Ohio State added a new name defensively too. Bill Davis is slated to coach linebackers starting in 2017. Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell left to become the head coach at Cincinnati after Ohio State's season. Safeties coach Greg Schiano will assume Fickell's role as coordinator along with Kerry Coombs, who Meyer said will have an expanded role in the defense.
To recap: Beck to Texas; Warinner to Minnesota; Fickell to Cincinnati. Day to Ohio State as quarterbacks coach; Wilson to Columbus as offensive coordinator and tight ends coach; Davis is the new linebackers coach. You can read more about what was an extremely busy week following the Fiesta Bowl here.
In terms of personnel that Meyer, Day and Wilson will have to work with in addition to Barrett on offense, the Buckeyes also shifted rising junior Eric Glover-Williams from defensive back to wide receiver. Incoming freshman and early enrollee Brendon White said he will play there too. Ohio State's top returning pass-catcher is Marcus Baugh, and the tight end caught 24 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns in 2016.
Help is desperately needed at receiver following the graduation of Dontre Wilson and decisions by Noah Brown and Curtis Samuel to turn pro. A 5-star player at the position — Trevon Grimes — is set to enroll at Ohio State this summer. Four-star receiver Tyjon Lindsey was ready to do the same but decommitted from the Buckeyes late Tuesday night. Regardless, both dealt with knee injuries that prematurely ended their high school careers.
Ohio State's 2017 recruiting class was No. 1 in the 247Sports composite rankings after reeling in another top prospect, junior college cornerback Kendall Sheffield, on Tuesday. Lindsey's decision to reopen his recruitment dropped it back to No. 2. Talent is there and should never be a problem under Meyer as long as he is in Columbus. After the shocking loss to Clemson, though, he made it evident that changes were likely.
They came fast and furious and just in time for the recruiting dead period to end. Coaches will hit the road on Thursday and National Signing Day is Feb. 1.
“Ohio State is not used to this,” Meyer said on New Year's Eve. “I'm not used to this, and we will not get used to this. That's not going to happen again. So we'll get things worked out.”
It looks like he has the group of individuals in place to move at fulfilling that declaration. Just as he did the last time the Buckeyes lost to Clemson (in the 2014 Orange Bowl), Meyer moved swiftly to bring in fresh blood. Three years ago, it was Chris Ash and Larry Johnson on defense in place of Everett Withers and Mike Vrabel. Now it is Day and Wilson.
Meyer likely won't speak to the media until signing day. The new hires will be a hot topic, as will the direction of the program and how quickly he made the needed changes.
“We're not used to it. And that's not going to happen again,” Meyer said. “So go to work.”