LOS ANGELES – While we already know Urban Meyer is in his final week as Ohio State’s head coach, Greg Schiano could be in his last week with the Buckeyes, too.
Schiano has been one of Ohio State’s top assistant coaches for the past three years, serving as the Buckeyes’ associate head coach and defensive coordinator. Whether he will be back with the Buckeyes for a fourth season, however, remains uncertain as Ryan Day prepares to succeed Meyer as Ohio State’s head coach next week.
A decision on Schiano’s future won’t be made until after Tuesday’s Rose Bowl, as Schiano is currently focused on preparing Ohio State’s defense for its final game of the season against Washington, while Day – in his current role as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach – is doing the same with the Buckeyes’ offense.
“Right now I'm worried about one thing, and that's winning the Rose Bowl,” Schiano said during an interview session on Thursday. “Ryan and I have discussed (the future) a little bit. But I really didn't want that to be any (distraction). He's got so much on his plate right now. I want him to get our offense ready, No. 1; he's done an unbelievable job doing that this year. And then he's going to have a whole mess of things. He's already had them on his plate. But January 2nd comes, his life's going to change quite a bit. And he needs time to work through all that.”
Schiano has been linked to several coaching jobs outside of Ohio State in the past 14 months. He signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2017 to become Tennessee’s head coach before the Volunteers backed out of that deal at the 11th hour. He opted to turn down opportunities to become an NFL assistant coach last offseason, but was reportedly interested in the head coaching vacancy at Temple (who ultimately hired Manny Diaz instead) earlier this month.
Schiano said Thursday that he did not want to talk about other opportunities he had pursued in the past or might pursue in the future, as he did not want to distract from his team’s preparation for the Rose Bowl. He did, though, express that he would be interested in staying at Ohio State for another year if Day wishes to retain him, saying that his experience in his first three years with the Buckeyes has “been outstanding.”
“I love being here. My family loves being here,” Schiano said. “Ohio State is a unique, rare place. Every week, incredible fan support. All the things you need to be successful as far as resources. Gene Smith, an incredible athletic director, who has a great staff that provides you with all the things you need to win. And more than anything, we have great players, great kids, young men that are not only talented and fun to coach in that way, but really good people.”
Having worked with Day for the past two years, including the nearly two months this season that Day was thrust into acting head coach responsibilities while Meyer was suspended, Schiano is confident that Day will be successful as Ohio State’s new head coach.
“I remember when I got my first head coaching job, I had eight months to get ready for that first day of training camp. I think Ryan maybe had 18 hours. He did an incredible job,” Schiano said. “It was fun working alongside of him, trying to help in any way I could.
“I think the world of Ryan,” Schiano later said. “I think Ryan is going to have an unbelievable career as a head coach. And I think our players feel that way, too. They're excited. Although they're sad to see Coach step down, I think they're really excited about what Ryan is going to bring to the program as a head coach.”
“I love being here. My family loves being here.” – Greg Schiano on coaching at Ohio State
Schiano also understands, though, that Day has tough decisions to make as he tries to build the best possible staff around him for the 2019 season. Having been a head coach himself for 11 years at Rutgers and two with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Schiano respects Day’s authority to make those decisions, even if Day ultimately decides to take the defense in a new direction.
“Any time there's a coaching change, whether it's internal or not, a head coach has to select the staff that he feels gives the team the best chance to win, and whatever coach Day decides to do, certainly his prerogative,” Schiano said. “He's got decisions he has to make and as a head coach, that's critical. You have to decide who you want your staff to be. And I think whether you take over for someone or you go to a new place, I think that's critical. And I think he'll do an excellent job doing that.”
Once the Buckeyes return home from California, Day will have to begin making decisions on which coaches he will retain or replace and start preparing for the 2019 season, so the verdict on Schiano’s future should come in the next few weeks.
For now, however, Schiano just wants to make sure the Buckeyes are prepared to finish their season with a win, as Meyer – a close friend of Schiano, and the reason Schiano decided to come to Ohio State in the first place – concludes his seven-year tenure coaching the Buckeyes.
“We need to go out and win this game, send him out the right way,” Schiano said.