Skull Session: Buckeyes Excel at Hiring Coordinators, Larry Johnson is an Interior Line Guru Too, and TreVeyon Henderson Responds to Message Board Rumors

By Kevin Harrish on May 20, 2020 at 4:59 am
Kevin Wilson is coaching them up in today's Skull Session.

Another day in paradise.

Stay dry out there, folks.

Song of the Day: "Thinking 'Bout Love" by Wild Rivers.

Word of the Day: Operose.

 COORDINATORS, TOO. It's not a secret that Ohio State hasn't always had exactly the same success rate with hiring coordinators as it has head coaches – hello, Touchdown Tim Beck! – but that doesn't mean there hasn't been some good, too.

In the past decade, the Buckeyes have made three coordinator hires that ESPN rates among the top-10 hires in all of college football during that span – and no other team has more than one.

8. Tom Herman, Ohio State offensive coordinator

Hired: Dec. 9, 2011
Term: 2012-14

What he inherited: Ohio State had a talented young quarterback, Braxton Miller, but had finished 107th in yards and 81st in scoring during the 2011 season. The Buckeyes eclipsed 27 points just five times that season.

What happened next: Urban Meyer came to Columbus with exceptional offensive credentials, but he deserves credit for hiring a coordinator he had never worked with in Herman, from Iowa State. Herman immediately began improving the offense, starting with Miller, who won 2012 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors and set the team's single-season total offense record (3,310 yards). Ohio State's offense in 2013 set 12 single-season school records, including 4,321 rushing yards, also a Big Ten record. Herman did his best work in 2014, as Ohio State overcame a preseason injury to Miller and a late-season injury to standout freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett to ultimately win the national title game with third-stringer Cardale Jones. The Buckeyes ranked fifth nationally in scoring (44.8 PPG), and Herman won the Broyles Award.


5. Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, Ohio State offensive coordinators

Hired: Jan. 10, 2017 (Wilson) and Jan. 3, 2017 (Day)
Term: Wilson 2017-present; Day 2017, 2018 seasons (named Ohio State head coach Dec. 4, 2018)

What they inherited: A talented offense with a convoluted coaching structure and damaging no-shows against Michigan State in 2015 and in the 2016 CFP semifinal against Clemson, a defense that shut out the Buckeyes 31-0. Ohio State in 2016 ranked 48th nationally in yards per play and 81st in passing offense.

What happened next: Wilson was the high-profile hire, while Day arrived as a relative unknown after two years on Chip Kelly's NFL staff. Together, they have overseen a record-setting offense and the best stretch of quarterback play in team history. In 2017, Ohio State rose to No. 6 nationally in scoring (41.4 PPG) and ranked in the top 10 in yards per play, first downs and third-down conversion percentage. The next year, Ohio State set Big Ten records for total offense (535.6 YPG) and touchdown passes (51). Since 2017, Ohio State leads the nation in touchdown passes (138) and ranks second in total touchdowns (234). Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was a 2018 Heisman Trophy finalist and became the first Buckeyes QB drafted in the first round since 1982. Quarterback Justin Fields, a 2019 Heisman finalist, should be one of the first names called in the 2021 draft. Since 2017, Ohio State is 38-4 with three Big Ten titles and three AP top-five finishes.

Just like the head coaches list from yesterday, Ohio State is already featured on this list more than anyone else, and it probably should have been even more. But ESPN decided against honoring the guys who turned the worst defense in program history into the best defense in the country in one season with the same players.

 THE GODFATHER. One positive thing that's come out of everyone being damn near bored to death during this time is that it's gifted us with plenty of content as coaches donate their time to extremely thorough and personal interviews because they've got nothing better to do.

I mean shit, two weeks ago we had Chris Holtmann on our podcast talking about changing a tire, his favorite local restaurant and whose ass he'd kick in a one-on-one game (rather, who would kick his ass).

Now, I give you Larry Johnson talking interior defensive line play for almost 15 minutes.

The most common jealous criticism I hear about Larry Johnson is some variation of "anyone can make a five-star prospect great!" First off, that completely ignores that recruiting is part of a coach's job. Second, tell that to UCLA, who's managed to do nothing with two separate five-star top-20 defensive ends recruited two classes apart.

The second and even more head-scratching criticism is that he's actually not all that great at developing interior linemen, just edge pass rushers.

Here's a quick look at why both of those arguments are resoundingly terrible:

At this point, I'm not convinced Larry Johnson couldn't coach *me* (GAP kids blogger body and all) to be an effective defensive lineman.

 WELCOME TO MESSAGE BOARDS, TREVYON! I never put too much stock into what I read on message boards – the cosplay portion of college football fandom where folks masquerade as insiders for anonymous Internet clout.

Don't get me wrong, message boards are fun as hell and arguing with strangers online is basically in my job description, I just don't particularly see a need to give validity to BOOMERSOONER69420 claiming half of Ohio State's current commitments and leans will be flipping to Oklahoma imminently.

But sometimes, those rumors get so damn loud and insistent that it crosses into "holy shit, I actually have to address this" territory. And, well... Welcome to online, TreVeyon Henderson!

To be clear, I don't know if the poster in question is just a fan or an actual Oklahoma insider, but 1) there's often no difference anyway 2) I have heard the "insiders" claiming basically the same thing, so it wouldn't shock me either way.

Look, if Lincoln Riley cuts through the ceiling and heists Ryan Day's historic recruiting class out from under him like George Clooney and Brad Pitt in the 2001 film Ocean's Eleven, I'll just tip the cap. Until then, I'll count my team's #teen riches like Scrooge McDuck and pay no mind to the Oklahoma fan-fiction writers.

As an aside, I respect the hell out of the 2021 class just going ahead and repurposing #BIA for their own use. Cause I mean, they sure ain't wrong.

 THE GIANT OF SENEGAL. We didn't get to see much of Ibrahima Diallo in his debut season with the Buckeyes, but there might not be a player on the roster with a higher ceiling than the 7-footer who just started playing basketball a few years ago, and there sure isn't anyone with a more interesting story.

So here's your shot to get to know him a little better.

As an aside, I know Ibrahima speaks multiple languages. However, I was not expecting his high school coach to be able to speak fluent French like that. Big props.

I hope to see Ibrahima's impact on the court sooner than later. Dude's got all the potential in the world.

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