State of the Program: Previewing The Current Teams of Former Ohio State Coordinators

By David Wertheim on May 5, 2018 at 8:45 am
Mark Dantonio Snow

Mike Carter- USA TODAY Sports

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While Ohio State and coach Urban Meyer are gearing up for a big season of their own, five former Buckeyes coordinators (since 2000) are preparing for seasons themselves. Spanning four different conferences, each program has different goals for the upcoming campaign. Let's take a look at all five, and where they stand heading into the year.

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State - 12th Season

The longest-tenured coach on this list, Dantonio enters his 12th season in East Lansing having built a program known for its consistency and toughness. Michigan State finished last season with a 10-3 record, and overachieved according to many pundits after the rough 2016 season that saw them finish 3-9. 

The Spartans will return a bulk of their star players, including quarterback Brian Lewerke and running back L.J. Scott on offense, and cornerback Josiah Scott and linebacker Joe Bachie on defense. With another typical Spartans 2018 recruiting class coming in, and a favorable schedule, it is reasonable to expect another eight-win season at the very least for Dantonio and his bunch.

Also of note, former Ohio State defensive coordinator/Kent State head coach Paul Haynes has joined the MSU staff as the defensive backs coach for the 2018 season after his dismissal as the head coach of the Golden Flashes. 

Everett Withers, Texas State - 3rd Season

Withers has had two tough seasons to begin his Texas State tenure, finishing 2-10 in both. Nevertheless, Withers and the Texas State program has to expect better results, simply because it cannot get much worse.

With the 5th best recruiting class in the Sun Belt- right in the middle of the back- it stands to reason that Withers will improve the program in the coming years. The question remains, however, if he flops again this year, will the administration give him more time? The Bobcats play Rutgers to open the season this year, so perhaps we will get to see Withers on the Big Ten Network.

Chris Ash, Rutgers - 3rd Season

After winning a national championship at Ohio State, Ash took on a much tougher assignment as the head coach of Rutgers, the Big Ten whipping boy since their entry into the league in 2014. 

After a dismal first season in 2016, where he finished 2-10, Ash had a slight improvement in 2017 when the Scarlet Knights went 4-8. The goal this year, of course, is to become bowl eligible. With a weak non-conference schedule, where Rutgers will face Withers' Texas State squad, Kansas, and Buffalo, it is certainly not out of the question. The Scarlet Knights also get to face Indiana, Illinois, and rival Michigan at home. 

Tom Herman, Texas - 2nd Season

2017 was an interesting year for Texas Tom. The Longhorns finished 7-6, with losses to Maryland and Texas Tech, but also knocked off West Virginia on the road and lost to three ranked teams—Oklahoma State, USC, and Oklahoma—by a combined 11 points. 

Despite the mediocre record, the Texas 2018 recruiting class—Herman's first at the school—was excellent, finishing third in the nation. The Longhorns will also return starting quarterback Shane Buechele and backup Sam Ehlinger, setting up what could be a fun quarterback battle as we head towards the season. 

The Longhorns have a fun schedule in 2018. They play the second leg of home-and-homes against Maryland (on the road) and USC (at home), will play Oklahoma in Dallas, and travel to Stillwater. It should be fun to track Texas Tom and the Longhorns this upcoming season. 

Also of note, former Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton will enter his second season as the running backs coach/associate head coach for Texas. Herman was able to poach him from the Chicago Bears, where he departed to after his stint in Columbus. 

Luke Fickell, Cincinnati - 2nd Season

Another coach in his second season, Luke Fickell is also looking for improved results in 2018. After a 4-8 campaign, Fickell went out and signed the top AAC recruiting class in 2018, including names familiar to Ohio State recruitniks such as running back Tavion Thomas, athlete Leonard Taylor and defensive end Malik Vann

The Bearcats will return starting quarterback Hayden Moore and playmaking running back Michael Warren, in addition to Ohio State offensive line transfer Kyle Trout. Fickell also has two former Ohio State assistants on his staff: defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman and wide receivers coach Joker Phillips. 

Cincinnati will head to the Rose Bowl in September to take on UCLA, followed by three "cupcake" games against Miami (OH), Alabama A&M, and Ohio University. The Bearcats are looking to return to bowl eligibility and relevance under Fickell, like they had with their incredible three coach run of Mark Dantonio, Brian Kelly, and Butch Jones. 

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