Warinner comes to Columbus after two seasons at Notre Dame under Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly. The 28-year coaching veteran is one of four new assistants on the offensive side of the football, joining offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman, tight ends/fullbacks coach Tim Hinton and wide receivers coach Zach Smith. Warinner may have the co-offensive coordinator title along with being OSU's new offensive line coach and running game coordinator, but he knows who will be ultimately in charge of the offensive ship.
"It's obviously going to be Coach Meyer's offense," Warinner said at a press conference introducing the new assistants at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. "He's going to entrust Tom Herman and myself the responsibility of teaching it to the players and developing some things, enhancing it so to speak.
"(Meyer) is hands on. He's a part of it. We all have a role. Coach Meyer is first. Tom Herman is second. I'm third. Then all the coaches are involved. It'll be a combination of a lot of experienced people running a spread offense, putting together our minds and staying within the core beliefs of (Meyer's) offensive system."
Ohio State is the eighth stop for Warinner's coaching career. The 50-year-old has coached at Akron (1984), Michigan State (1985-86), Army (1987-99), Air Force (2000-02), Kansas (2003-04, 2007-08), Illinois (2005-06) and Notre Dame (2010-11). Nine of those years Warinner worked as a coordinator, and in 15 of the last 20 he has coached the offensive line.
His first offensive coordinator job came in 1998-99 while at Army. While working for the Cadets, Warinner's teams led the nation in rushing three times. His Air Force squad did the same in 2002, averaging 307.8 yards per game.
Running success followed Warinner to Illinois, where in 2006 the Fighting Illini netted 188.3 yards per game – the best by an Illinois team since 1973.
Warinner returned to Kansas for a second stint with the Jayhawks in 2007 as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. During his second tenure at KU from 2007-09, the Jayhawks posted the three best offenses in terms of total yards and passing yards in those years and also had three of the top seven scoring seasons in school history as well. His 2007 team was the nation's second-highest scoring squad (42.8 points per game) and set a school record by averaging 479.8 yards per game. That team finished the season 12-1 and earned a 24-21 victory against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
The following season in 2008, Kansas averaged 432.4 yards and 33.4 points per game, respectively, and the offense netted 422.4 yards per contest, including a program-best 310.3 passing yards.
Warinner was then a finalist for the American Football Coaches Association's National Assistant Coach of the Year award following the 2009 campaign, an honor given to then-Duke defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre.
Warinner's latest coaching stop took him to South Bend. As a member of Kelly's coaching staff (offensive line coach in 2010 and OL coach/running game coordinator in 2011), Warinner helped the 2010 Fighting Irish to its best per carry rushing average (4.0) since 2003 and saw that number improve to 4.8 in 2011.
Then came the call from Meyer and an offer Warinner could not resist.
"I had a really good job. I worked with really good people and great players at Notre Dame," Warinner said. "I have a family, and any time you move a family and relocate and change jobs there's a transition that's stressful. So you evaluate that, but because it was Ohio State and because it was Urban Meyer and because of my love for this place, that made the decision when I made it. It didn't take long. … I'm really excited that I did it."
While Meyer's offense is a spread, Warinner said running the ball in a spread is not unusual and a physical ground game will still be important for the Buckeyes.
"We do believe you can run the ball in the spread offense," OSU's new run game coordinator said. "We do believe you can be physical up front. We do want to control the line of scrimmage. Those are all tenants of his offensive system. In terms of running the football, yeah, we believe in that. We just probably won't have as many people crowded around the box as maybe in the past. ... We'll be strongly committed to running the football and being a very balanced team."
As for his offensive line, Warinner said he wants his charges to succeed in two phases.
"Those are our two jobs: Be able to run the ball consistently and protect the quarterback," Warinner said. "That's how I gauge it. If we can do one and not the other, we're not good enough. We have to do both really well."