Tom Herman is officially leaving Ohio State for his first head-coaching job at Houston. It’s a gig that’s well-deserved and a long time coming for the intelligent, playfully self-deprecating assistant who will remain as the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach through the College Football Playoff.
Inevitably, though, head coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes will have to replace Herman, a rising star who’s been instrumental in ushering an offensive renaissance in Columbus.
As Meyer said when hiring defensive line coach Larry Johnson to replace Mike Vrabel:
"It's like a player. If you lose a great player and you don't replace him with a great player, it's just going to happen, you're not going to be as good."
While the following is in no way some all-knowing, definitive or comprehensive list, here are some names to consider when thinking about what lucky assistant will get a call from Meyer and Co. in the near future. Treat it as a wish list:
Lincoln Riley (East Carolina)
Much like Tom Herman, Riley is an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks who's apparently garnering interest from programs with vacancies such as Kentucky.
Currently in his fifth season at East Carolina, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has turned the Pirates into a high-flying, offensive power of late.
This year, ECU's offense averages 37 points a game and 533 total yards.
Riley, though, seems to have left his biggest mark in the pass game. According to the school's sports information desk, his offenses rank No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 on the program's single-season passing list and this year, ECU is throwing the ball for 367 yards a game. Imagine what he could do with Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones.
Mike Sanford (Boise State)
In his first year as Boise State's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Sanford has helped the Broncos average 40 points and 496 yards a game. Not bad for a guy who graduated college less than a decade ago.
Before that, Sanford spent three seasons at Stanford as its running backs coach in 2011 and 2012 and wide receivers coach in 2013. He was also the Cardinal's recruiting coordinator, which is worth noting considering how Meyer will have to replace Herman as a recruiter, not just a coach.
Brian Johnson (Mississippi State)
Johnson was a star quarterback at Utah and the cover boy of EA Sports' 2010 NCAA Football video game.
After serving as a backup quarterback under Urban Meyer in 2004, Johnson won 26 games for the Utes before accepting a job as the school's quarterbacks coach in 2010. He worked his way up to become the offensive coordinator before teaming up Dan Mullen, his former coach and Meyer's pupil, at Mississippi State this season. He's only 27.
Scott Frost (Oregon)
This would be an absolute, slam-dunk hire, but it’s hard to imagine Frost making a lateral move from Oregon to Ohio State. Still, you never know. The Ducks’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach currently makes $400,000 a year, and while the Buckeyes haven’t exactly shelled out for their assistants in the past, you figure they could match or surpass that kind of price if they wanted to.
Frost, who's in his fifth year in Eugene after being hired by former coach Chip Kelly, has continued Oregon's string of offensive success. The Ducks, which play Florida State in the Rose Bowl of the College Football Playoff, average 46 points and 546 yards a game. A former star quarterback himself at Nebraska, Frost helped mold Marcus Mariota into the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner.