December 09, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Ohio State sought and received a waiver from the NCAA that allows it to have two football coaching staffs at the same time: One under Luke Fickell to coach the Buckeyes in their upcoming bowl game and another led by incoming coach Urban Meyer that only handles recruiting.
The Buckeyes play Florida in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2. But Meyer and any new staffers are not permitted to coach any players and can only recruit. The NCAA waiver specifies that no more than 10 coaches—and no more than seven at any one time—may be involved in recruiting.
Permission for the shadow recruiting staff came almost as soon as Meyer was hired, on Nov. 28. Athletic director Gene Smith describes it here as "normal in some transitions," though a formal waiver to bypass restrictions on staff size is novel to me. Shockingly, rival coaches tasked with handling bowl prep and recruiting at the same time aren't exactly shrugging it off.
At any rate, Meyer has already made his first full-time hire: Tim Herman, spread guru fresh from a three-year stint as offensive coordinator at Iowa State, who could be signing on as quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator, or — considering longtime Jim Tressel aides Jim Bollman and Nick Siciliano are on their way out after the bowl game, to the delight of the online fan base — both.
The only members of Tressel's staff up for a position on Meyer's staff are receivers coach Stan Drayton, cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson, linebackers coach Mike Vrabel and interim head coach Luke Fickell, all of whom have continued recruiting. Only Fickell has been guaranteed a safe landing, in return for taking the wheel with the program speeding toward a ditch following Tressel's ouster in May.
Then, there's that other thing: At some point in the near future, Ohio State should find out just how hard the NCAA plans to come down for the series of major violations that's already cost the Buckeyes their head coach, their star quarterback, the entire 2010 season and a handful of scholarships. Officials are back in front of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions today and Saturday to answer for the latest notice of allegations dropped on their doorstep last month, involving the relatively low-level largess of a Cleveland-area booster. (As well as the not so low-level charge of "failure to monitor.") The pending fallout could still cost the Buckeyes a bowl game or further scholarships.
But it's not going to dampen the rejuvenating optimism that accompanied Meyer's arrival last week, which is now — officially — full-speed ahead.