Who Will Fill Out Meyer’s Staff: Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Monday evening, Urban Meyer became the 24th head football coach in Ohio State history.
One of his first tasks will be to assemble a team of what he calls “the best assistant coaches in the country.”
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said the University will give him the resources he needs, which could put the Buckeyes on the same playing field as SEC powers like Alabama and LSU when it comes to paying assistant coaches.
Many of Meyer’s former top assistants will not be available to join him in Columbus because they have already become head coaches elsewhere. That group includes: Dan Mullen, Charlie Strong, Tim Beckman, Kyle Whittingham, Steve Addazio, Doc Holliday and Dan McCarney.
We put together a list of candidates who could reasonably join Meyer in Columbus, starting with the offense. Most of these names have either been linked to Ohio State or would be natural choices for Meyer when filling out his coaching staff.
- Greg Studrawa (47, Ohio): Has been the offensive line coach at LSU since 2007. Was recently promoted to offensive coordinator for the 2011 season. Served as the offensive line coach at Bowling Green under Meyer 2001-02 and became BG offensive coordinator under Gregg Brandon when Meyer left in 2003.
"We're going to attack people. We're not going to be passive on offense,” he told The Times Picayune.
“We want to attack people. Takes shots and, at the same time, be physical and run the football.”
Born in Fostoria, Ohio, he played offensive tackle at Bowling Green (’84-87) and started his coaching career at Cincinnati. Also served as a offensive graduate assistant at Ohio State in 1997.
- Chad Morris (43, Texas): In his first season as the offensive coordinator at Clemson and has already made a drastic difference. After being at the bottom of every offensive category last season, the Tigers ranked No. 2 in the ACC in total offense and scoring offense this season. They were the No. 1-ranked passing offense and Tajh Boyd quickly became a household name, throwing for 3,300 yards and 28 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Morris took over as Tulsa’s offensive coordinator after Gus Malzahn was hired at Auburn in 2009. Like Malzahn, Morris was a high school football coach before he cracked into the college game as an offensive “guru.” He won 82 percent of his games as a high school coach in Texas and led Lake Travis High School to back-to-back, undefeated (16-0) state championship seasons. He coached a number of high-profile quarterbacks in high school, including Garrett Gilbert, Jevan Snead, Kody Spani, Andrew Smith and Scott Elliott. His experience there could help Ohio State crack into the state of Texas for recruiting.
- Paul Petrino (44, Montana): Has no real history with Meyer, but he knows the spread offense and is considered to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. Meyer said he plans to recruit the best assistant coaches in the country, and Petrino is suddenly available after Ron Zook was let go at Illinois. Was the offensive coordinator under brother Bobby Petrino at Louisville and Arkansas. Also coached receivers for Atlanta Falcons. Led the nation in total offense (539.0 ypg) and scoring offense (49.8 ppg) at UL in 2004 and his offenses at Arkansas and Illinois have ranked among the best in the country.
- Gregg Brandon (55, Colorado): In his first season as offensive coordinator at Wyoming after two seasons as OC at Virginia. Was Meyer’s OC at Bowling Green from 2001-02. In 2002 the Falcons’ offense set 17 school and seven MAC records and led the nation in red zone efficiency (96.8 percent). Took over as BG head coach from 2003-08 after Meyer left.
- Scott Loeffler (37, Ohio): Currently in his first season as the offensive coordinator at Temple. Was the quarterbacks coach for Meyer at Florida from 2009-10, where he worked with Tim Tebow. Also coached the quarterbacks at Michigan from 2002-07, where he worked with Drew Henson, John Navarre and Chad Henne. Before that, he spent two seasons as a student assistant (1996-97) and two more as an offensive graduate assistant (1998-99) in Ann Arbor, where he worked with Brian Griese and Tom Brady. He graduated from Michigan in 1998, but was born in Barberton, Ohio.
- Mike Sanford (56, Calif.): Was the offensive coordinator at Louisville under Charlie Strong, who was Meyer’s defensive coordinator at Florida. He was relieved of his duties back in October, but Sanford was Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Utah from 2003-04.
Utah, which finished last in the MWC in scoring offense in 2002, ranked third in the nation in 2004 at 43.3 points per game, third in total offense at 499.75, third in passing efficiency (173.41) and boasted Heisman Trophy finalist Alex Smith, who went on to become the top pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Sanford also worked as the quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame from 1997-98 while Meyer was the wide receivers coach in South Bend. A former quarterback at USC, he is familiar with the spread offense along with recruiting in California.
RUNNING BACKS COACH
- Stan Drayton (40, Ohio): After one season as the receivers coach at Ohio State, Drayton could return to his natural coaching position under Meyer. He coached the running backs at Florida under Meyer from 2005-07 and again in 2010. In between, Drayton coached the running backs at both Tennessee and Syracuse. After playing running back at Allegheny College in Pa., Drayton was running backs coach at Villanova and Mississippi State prior to Florida. He is a native of Cleveland and took a job at Ohio State to be closer to his family.
- Tim Hinton (51, Ohio): In his second season as the running backs coach at Notre Dame. Hinton worked as the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Cincinnati under both Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly. He was a graduate assistant at Ohio State alongside Meyer in 1986. He graduated from Wilmington College in Ohio in 1982 and got his masters degree from Ohio State in 1987. He knows Ohio high school coaches as well as anyone, having been the head coach at Zane Trace (87-88), Van Wert (89) and Marion Harding (1993-2003).
WIDE RECEIVERS COACH
- Zach Azzanni (35, Michigan): In his first season as the offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky after one season as the wide receivers coach at Florida under Meyer in 2010. He was also an offensive graduate assistant under Meyer at Bowling Green from 2001-02.
“He is a tireless worker, relentless recruiter, and a great teacher of fundamentals,” Meyer said when he was hired at Florida.
“He is also very familiar with our philosophy and will be a good fit with our players and staff.”
In the past 10 years, Azzanni has been called a “relentless” recruiter by Meyer. He has most notably been a staple in the recruiting areas of the state of Florida, in particular the Miami/Fort Lauderdale areas.
- Billy Gonzales (40, Colorado): In his second season as the receivers coach and passing game coordinator at LSU. Coached the receivers under Meyer at Florida from 2005-09, where he was also Meyer’s recruiting coordinator from ’08-09. He served as Meyer’s receivers coach and special teams coordinator at Utah from 2003-04 and held the same position under Meyer at Bowling Green. Gonzales was also a receiver and return man at Colorado State under Earle Bruce when Meyer was a graduate assistant. He has a masters degree from Kent State and coached the Flashes from 1995-2000.
Gonzales left Florida in 2009 to take the position at LSU. Meyer said he wished he hadn’t gone to a rival SEC team.
- Zach Smith (27, Ohio): In his first season as the special teams coach at Temple, where he followed former Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio. This is Smith’s first full-time coaching job. He worked as an offensive and special teams graduate assistant at Florida under Meyer from 2007-09. He was also a quality control assistant and recruiting evaluator for the Gators from 2006-07. He is a native of Dublin, Ohio and the grandson of former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce.
TIGHT ENDS COACH
- John Peterson (43, Ohio): The 2011 season was his eighth season as Ohio State’s tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Peterson is a member of the Middletown High School Hall of Fame and he played offensive line for the Buckeyes from 1987-90. His freshman season at Ohio State’s was also the last for Earle Bruce as a head coach and Urban Meyer as a graduate assistant. Peterson himself went on to become a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes from 1993-94. He also coached the offensive lines at both Akron and Miami University (Ohio).
- Tim Hinton (40, Ohio): Has coached a number of different positions in his career, including wide receiver, tight end and defensive line. Could be added to the staff as either a running backs coach or tight ends coach.
OFFENSIVE LINE COACH
- Greg Studrawa (47, Ohio): If Studrawa is hired as the offensive coordinator, he would likely also coach the offensive line at Ohio State, much like Jim Bollman has done since 2001. Even if they go a different direction for coordinator, it’s still possible Studrawa could reunite with Meyer as the offensive line coach.
John Peterson (43, Ohio): It is possible that with his experience both playing and coaching the offensive line, Peterson could be reassigned to that role. He has already been working with the offensive tackles at Ohio State.
- Matt Campbell (32, Ohio): In his second season as the offensive coordinator under Tim Beckman at Toledo. Campbell has also coached the Rockets’ offensive line since Beckman took over the program in 2009. A 2002 graduate of Mount Union, Campbell was a member of five national championship teams as a coach and player for the Purple Raiders. He was a two-time first-team All-American and was voted as the Ohio Athletic Conference’s Best Defensive Lineman in 2001 and 2002.
Campbell joined Gregg Brandon’s staff as a graduate assistant at Bowling Green from 2003-04 when Beckman was still working as the defensive coordinator. He spent two years as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Mount Union before returning to coach the offensive line at Bowling Green in 2006. He is a native of Massillon Ohio.
“Matt Campbell is a coach’s son who has grown up around football all his life,” Beckman said when he hired Campbell as his offensive coordinator.
“In my opinion, he’s the best recruiter in the Mid-American Conference. But his knowledge of the offensive schemes we want to run here was the first reason I offered him the position.”
Related Story - Defensive Staff Candidates
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