Ohio State is an Easy Sell for New Assistants
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State coaches are hitting the recruiting trails for one last push before National Signing Day, and for Urban Meyer's assistant coaches, selling The Ohio State University is something that comes quite easily.
In fact, for most of his new assistants, it's also something that comes quite naturally. Of the five assistants that Meyer has snatched away from other programs, four of them have significant ties to the Buckeye state, and they understand the allure that Ohio State brings with it.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman was born in Cincinnati and most of his family still resides there. Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner is from Strasburg, Ohio and has a bachelor's degree from Mount Union where he played football and baseball.
Tim Hinton, the tight ends and fullbacks coach, is from Amanda, Ohio and was a graduate assistant at Ohio State under Earle Bruce. He even helped screen Urban Meyer's resume, who was applying to be a graduate assistant himself under Bruce.
But while Meyer and Hinton have ties to Earle Bruce, neither of them can touch the ties that new wide receivers coach Zach Smith has with him. Smith is, of course, Bruce's grandson and knows every selling point that Ohio State has to offer, because he's heard the sales pitch his entire life.
"If he does have a negative thought in mind about this place, it's never been spoken to myself," Smith said when asked about the stories his grandfather has told him about Ohio State.
"I can't really think of a negative here. It is a dream job. It's something you live your whole life hoping you get, and when you do, there's obviously a lot of pressure in that, but what the heck, if you don't do it to get your dream job, then what do you do it for, right?"
What the blue chippers around the state and country will begin to realize over the months and years is that these coaches are going to be selling something that they bought into decades ago—even while working at other schools.
"Well, because Ohio State is a dream job, and I've always wanted to coach here, and this is home, I was excited about it," said Warinner when asked if it was a difficult decision to leave Notre Dame for Ohio State.
"But I had a really good job, and I worked with good people and great players at Notre Dame. I have a family and any time you move a family and relocate and change jobs, there's a transition that is stressful.
"So you evaluate that, but because it was Ohio State, because it was Urban Meyer, because of my love for this place, that made the decision when I made it—it didn't take long—but when I made the decision, I knew that's what I wanted to do, and I'm really excited that I did."
It will be remarkably easy for Warinner to sit in a prospect's living room and relate to everybody there because Ohio State recruited him as well. He weighed the pros and cons, and the pros won out. Quickly.
Like Warinner, Tim Hinton also left Notre Dame for Ohio State, and while he also had to weigh the pros and cons of choosing Ohio State over the Irish, it turns out that it wasn't a very difficult decision because he's been a Buckeye his entire life.
"One of the things that you try to recruit is you really want to recruit people who love the Ohio State University," Hinton said.
"And I'm sure it's the same way when you're recruiting coaches to come to Ohio State. You better get guys that are gonna lay it on the line.
"There are very few universities, and maybe none other like this across the country, where the entire state is truly involved in one school. Listen, this is a very special place. When you grow up just down the road and have had season tickets here since 1950, that's a long time.
"I remember being at home on a Saturday afternoon and there was no traffic on the road during the Ohio State – Michigan game. Then all of a sudden the game was over and you'd see cars going by up and down the road. To get a chance to coach in an Ohio State – Michigan game again is very, very special to me."
These are the types of stories that are going to be told in the living room of recruits time and again. Long-lasting memories that still hold a powerful station in each coach's past.
Hinton and Warinner have been in Columbus for less than a month, but they both have decades worth of sales pitches that they know are good, because it worked on them.
"It’s not a coincidence," Urban Meyer said of his coaches' Ohio roots.
"I know this one cuts real deep when it’s your home state. The high school relations are important. Ed Warinner was a no-brainer. He played at Mount Union. He had a great job. You don’t leave that job and come here unless there is some kind of tie.
"The same was true of Tim Hinton. There is a strong tie to pull him away from one great job to another great job. That wasn’t by coincidence."
Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program in the country. When if falters, the program falters. Clearly, Meyer's vision as it relates to recruiting is that it's always easier for the customer to buy a product when the seller believes in it, and it's obvious that these salesmen have a sincere belief in what they are pitching.
Even for a guy like Tom Herman, who moved to California at a young age, the call from Urban Meyer carried immense weight. When he told Paul Rhoads, his head coach at Iowa State, that Meyer had offered him a position at Ohio State, even Rhoads knew there was only one decision to be made.
"Coach Rhoads was awesome when I approached him and said that coach Meyer wanted to interview me and then that he had offered me the job. He told me, ‘Hey man you need to go. You need to go do that.’ Coach Rhoads was actually a graduate assistant here back in the day for John Cooper, so he understands this place."
Even to his detriment, Rhoads understood, because he had coached at Ohio State.
The assistant coaches won't just be selling Ohio State when they're on the road, they'll be living it, just as they have for years. Only now they'll be able to live it out in the open.
"You can't get away from it," said Smith.
"It's the Buckeye State, so I think that anyone in Ohio can tell you that that's just what you do—you just love Ohio State if you're from here.
"These kids, from the time they're born, that's all they know. So when Ohio State comes and wants to recruit them and offers them a scholarship, it just holds a greater weight because their whole life, that's been the dream."
That same dream would seem to go for coaches from Ohio as well.
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