You might've heard that the Cleveland Browns just hired (another) head coach, the most recent in a long line of football dorks who believe that they have the chops to handle both the football dorks who are the owners of the Browns and the football dorks who are the players on the Browns.
Kevin Stefanski is wrong about that, by the way, just as the previous nine head coaches have been since the Expansion Browns came into existence thanks to a curled monkeys paw wish that the city of Cleveland collectively made in 1999.
Turnover is bad. So you hire someone in the hopes that they'll be as good as (or ideally, better) than the person who just left, but if they're bad you have to find someone else. And, as in the case with Ohio State, if they're very good you're going to have to watch them get a higher profile job and... find someone else.
It is has become an annual dance that is frankly stressful as hell to watch, and after the Jim Tressel era it was presumed that money might create more stability in the Buckeye football coaching ranks. This was incorrect.
As our own Dan Hope pointed out last year, Ohio State is shelling out a huge amount of cash for its assistant coaches. From his article:
|Coach||Title||2018 Salary||2019 Salary||Increase||Contract Length|
|GREG MATTISON||CO-DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR||$525,000*||$1,100,000||$575,000||2 YEARS|
|MIKE YURCICH||PASSING GAME COORDINATOR AND QB COACH||$800,000*||$950,000||$150,000||2 YEARS|
|KEVIN WILSON||OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND TE COACH||$800,000||$950,000||$150,000||2 YEARS|
|JEFF HAFLEY||CO-DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND SECONDARY COACH||N/A*||$950,000||N/A||2 YEARS|
|LARRY JOHNSON||ASSOCIATE HC AND DL COACH||$750,000||$900,000||$150,000||1 YEAR|
|TONY ALFORD||RB COACH AND ASST. HC FOR OFFENSE||$525,000||$600,000||$75,000||1 YEAR|
|GREG STUDRAWA||OL COACH||$500,000||$600,000||$100,000||1 YEAR|
|AL WASHINGTON||LB COACH||$350,000*||$500,000||$150,000||2 YEARS|
|MATT BARNES||ST COORDINATOR AND ASST. SECONDARY COACH||$180,000*||$350,000||$170,000||2 YEARS|
|BRIAN HARTLINE||WR COACH||$105,000||$345,000||$240,000||2 YEARS|
|*Mattison and Washington coached at Michigan in 2018, Yurcich coached at Oklahoma State in 2018 and Barnes coached at Maryland in 2018. Hafley's salary from the San Francisco 49ers is not available for public record.|
The recently departed Mike Yurcich (the new offensive coordinator for Texas) and Jeff Hafley (the new head coach of Boston College) were compensated extremely well for their services, and so was the rest of the staff; their total salary of well over seven million dollars put Ohio State third in the country in terms of assistant pay, behind only Clemson and Alabama.
And yet they left! Yurcich got a title commensurate with his pay, and Hafley got to be a head coach. It's easy to figure out the calculus when someone is fired for being bad at their job, but when the likes of a Vrabel or a Fickell or hell, even an Ash or a Herman go on for greener pastures, the question becomes what, institutionally, can be done to convince elite coaches to stay long term.
This is, obviously, incredibly difficult. After all, who wouldn't make these moves, especially if you're a competitive, driven football coach? Mike Vrabel is on the doorstep of a Super Bowl. Tom Herman got to steer the ship of one of the most important college football programs in history. Fickell is one of the most respected non-Power 5 coaches in the country. All of those coaches were well-paid, but hell, even if the opportunity isn't one of a lifetime, taking another job where you can become a nationally known name isn't something to sneeze at.
Take Joe Brady. Brady has masterminded LSU's passing attack this past season, and some of the biggest drama that the Tigers have dealt with in the lead up to the national championship is whether or not they'll be able to keep the dude for any amount of time after the game.
They are trying. After questions about his future, reports about interest from NFL teams, and an agreement to a contract extension and a raise, LSU still can't be certain that they'll be able to hold on to Brady in the offseason.
Brady's name has already surfaced as an option for the open offensive coordinator position under new Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule.
"I do have [an agent] now," Brady admitted.
This is the norm. As the CBS Sports article points out, LSU will likely try and prevent Brady from going to another college program, but the NFL could very well come knocking on Tuesday no matter what happens tomorrow.
Ohio State football isn't Cleveland and neither Ryan Day or Gene Smith are the random number generator that makes hiring decisions for the Browns. But success in college football is built on consistency, and hopefully the Buckeyes can find a way to maintain a staff that's both the best in America and also won't be swayed by the very impulse that led them to Ohio State in the first place: not money, but to win, and win on a big stage.