Loyalty, Character Focus Of OSU Staff Reviews

After another excellent season in 2013, Ohio State AD Gene Smith and head coach Urban Meyer gave mostly positive reviews to the football staff, but there were also some obvious issues that needed to be corrected as well.

After a 24-2 start to their careers, most of Ohio State’s football coaches – including head man Urban Meyer – have received positive evaluations during their first two seasons with the Buckeye program, BuckeyeSports.com found out through a public records request submitted to the university.

Meyer was given an exemplary review this past offseason by athletics director Gene Smith, while Meyer was generally positive but occasionally critical when reviewing his assistant coaches.

In order to gain deeper insight into the program, BSB asked for the evaluations of Meyer – which was done by Smith – and the seven football assistant coaches returning from the 2013 season – quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Tom Herman, running backs coach Stan Drayton, wideouts coach Zach Smith, offensive line coach Ed Warinner, tight ends coach Tim Hinton, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Luke Fickell and cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs. Those evaluations, which also included self evaluations, were done in June by Meyer.

BSB received evaluations from Ohio State for all coaches but Smith, and parts of the evaluations were redacted because of FERPA laws.

LINK: Urban Meyer’s 2013-14 evaluation

LINK: Assistant Coach Evaluations

What follows are thumbnail recaps of each evaluation.

Urban Meyer
Smith was effusive in his praise of Meyer, noting that the head coach met expectations when it came to academic success, competitive success, communication and budget management and exceeded expectations in the areas of commitment to compliance, student-athlete welfare, leadership and public/donor relations.

In a letter to Meyer dated June 3, Smith writes, “Our priority is developing the total student-athlete, and your approach is one of the best. You have successfully created an environment where young men strengthen their values, learn meaningful life-skills, and strive for excellence in everything they do. The academic and athletic success realized is a direct result of that.”

Smith goes on to say, “As we move into 2014-15, I need you to continue your focus on the academic initiatives. As you have done, continue to think forwardly and progressively on how we need to be sure our guys are doing their best.”

Ohio State posted an APR of 972 last year, well above the penalty mark of 925, and boasted numerous OSU Scholar-Athletes a year ago.

Smith also urges that Meyer be “engaged with your national organization and the Big Ten Coaches group” thanks to the changing NCAA governance structure.

Luke Fickell
The former OSU head coach was lauded for his loyalty to the program, his character, his recruiting and his work on staff chemistry, but after a year in which the team struggled to stop its final opponents, he also received four bullet points for improvement.

Under areas to improve, Meyer pointed out “Production of defense,” “Defensive culture – aggressive,” “Professional development” and “Become top recruiter on staff.”

In addition, Fickell’s evaluation of himself included two points about the team’s drop-off in performance near the end of last year.

“We didn’t grow together as a defense and play our best ball at the end of the year,” Fickell wrote. “This was the disappointing reality. It has to start with the staff coming together and showing the units/players how to trust/believe and play together as one.”

Fickell also notes that the tempo-based spread offenses proliferating across college football have hurt defensive fundamentals, which is why offseason development in that realm was key for his position group.

Tom Herman
Herman was given rave reviews for the performance of his offense, his leadership of the staff, the chemistry of his staff and something noted as “Loyalty – Texas Situation.”

Listed under areas to work on are “Always Ohio State,” “Thoroughness Offense” and “Leadership of Offensive Staff: Demanding, Accountable.”

In his self-evaluation, Herman gave himself almost all 5’s when it comes to public relations and general job performance.

Kerry Coombs
Coombs was generally given positive reviews and was lauded for his energy to the program and positive approach, as well as his work as OSU’s newly appointed special teams coordinator last year.

When Meyer listed what Coombs must work on, he went with “pass defense must improve” and “keep pushing recruiting.” In the portion of the evaluation provided to BSB, Coombs -- who has been noted for his recruiting ties and enthusiasm -- gave himself all 4’s and 5’s in his coaching and recruiting evaluations, including all 5’s in the recruiting section.

Stan Drayton
Drayton was complimented for his loyalty, character, passion, energy, in-state recruiting and the development and production of his unit, while negatives included “Out of State Recruiting," "Expert in Offense" and "Creativity – Offense.”

In his self-evaluation, Drayton gave himself mostly 5’s with his only 3 in “Research and Development: active interest in professional growth.”

Tim Hinton
Hinton joined the parade of coaches given rave reviews for his loyalty and is also plus grades in work ethic, buy in, the development of the team’s tight ends, his work with OSU’s camps and clinics, and his character/family involvement with the program.

When it comes to things to work on, the evaluation points out “Recruiting Production,” “Creativity in all areas,” “Value to staff,” “Unit – Needs to be stronger than when you took over” and “Contributions to offense” in the areas of game-planning and creativity.

Hinton was hard on himself in his self-evaluation, including giving himself only a 1 when it comes to being “Thorough in recruitment of potential student-athletes” while also marking mostly 3’s and 4’s otherwise.

Ed Warinner
One of OSU’s more polarizing coaches among the fan base – his work with the offensive line praised, his recruiting efforts panned – Warinner received mostly a positive evaluation from Meyer this offseason.

The head coach praised his development of the offensive line, his game planning, his loyalty, his teaching and motivational skills and his work with the “small unit cohesion” program the Buckeyes worked over the summer.

When it came to areas of improvement, he was chided for needing to better develop relationships in recruiting, and Meyer notes that his strengths can also be weaknesses.

In his self-evaluation, Warinner listed mostly 5’s in most areas when it came to student-athlete relationships, coaching and recruiting.

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