Beck will serve as co-offensive coordinator to Ed Warinner, who turned Ohio State’s offensive line from a young, in experienced unit into a dominant five by the end of the season, while also coaching the quarterbacks as Herman did.
That’s quite a big job for a new hire considering that not only did Herman win the Broyles Award in 2014 as the nation’s top assistant, but Beck will also step into a room that will be in an interesting situation next year given all that has transpired in the past five months with Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.
But Beck could be up to the task after leading successful offenses at Nebraska and Kansas, where he was just a finalist for the open head coaching job that many thought might go to Warinner.
“If Taylor (Martinez) hadn’t gotten hurt last year, we might be talking about Tim Beck being a head coach somewhere,” Scout’s Nebraska publisher, Josh Harvey, told BSB. “I honestly believe that’s the case. They went 9-4 last year and I think Taylor Martinez gets you one or two more wins.”
Beck has been on successful offenses during his 26-year career. Included on his résumé are Texas ties – something Urban Meyer was looking for in the recruiting realm – as well as the fact that he was born in Youngstown, Ohio.
“I have known Tim for several years and have also watched and competed against him,” Meyer said. “I have always respected his knowledge of the game and he is respected in the profession. I always look for coordinators and co-coordinators who will mesh with our staff, our style and can make us better. I believe Tim will do just that.”
“I am extremely excited to be joining the Ohio State coaching staff,” Beck added. “It’s quite an honor, being an Ohio guy and growing up here and now having the opportunity to work at The Ohio State University. Words can’t explain it. I’m just really excited and I’m looking forward to working with coach Meyer, and to learn from him and to help the coaches there continue with the successes they have already started.”
The 48-year-old Beck spent the last seven years under Bo Pelini at Nebraska, including the last four as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Huskers boasted a dual-threat, spread option look that racked up yards and finished in the top half of the Big Ten every year, including first in 2011 and ’12.
In 2012, Taylor Martinez completed 62.0 percent of his passes (228 of 368) for 2,871 yards, 23 TDs and 12 interceptions while running 195 times for 1,019 yards on the way to being chosen first-team All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches. He finished his career as Nebraska’s career record holder in nearly every passing category including total offense, passing yards, completion and touchdown passes.
Some fans have criticized Beck’s work with Martinez for a perceived lack of development – his completion percentages and passer ratings moved up but not significantly in his time, and Martinez was often noted for his funky delivery – but Harvey said those criticisms are harsh, especially considering Martinez missed most of his senior year with an injury.
In addition, junior Tommy Armstrong this past year had his share of struggles this year with efficiency but he still threw for 2,695 yards in 2014, ran for 705 and accounted for 28 total touchdowns while throwing for 22 with 12 picks.
"I think you have to give him an A," Harvey said when it comes to quarterback development. "Taylor was an athlete. People say that Taylor didn't get better but I don't think that was the case. I think he did get better. His senior year, he got hurt, but who knows what he could have done his senior year if he was fully healthy. If you look at Taylor's numbers running the football and throwing the football, he's one of the, stat-wise, most elite guys to ever play the position, so it's hard for me to say that wasn't somewhat of a success.
"Armstrong didn't grow a ton from his freshman year to his sophomore year, so I think some fans assume he couldn't develop quarterbacks, but that's not really the case. I'd have to grade him as an A."
When it comes to style of offense, Beck has overseen a run-based attack – this year the Huskers with Heisman candidate Ameer Abdullah at running back averaged 45.2 rushing attempts per game and threw 27.6 passes – that worked at creating different ways to get backs in space. Both Abdullah and predecessor Rex Burkhead had 1,000-yard seasons and also were valuable pass catchers.
Meyer has talked about what has been developed over the past three years is now the “Ohio State offense,” and it appears that Beck will fit right in. His schemes the past few seasons have included many of the same base runs and power blocking schemes the Buckeyes have used.
"He was pretty multiple with his offense, and I think even at times he admitted they had to dial it back a little bit because we were putting too much in the playbook, but I think he found creative ways to run," Harvey said. "He ran out of the pistol from time to time, really liked the zone read option, ran out of the shotgun with Abdullah and Burkhead over the years. I think he probably ran the ball a little bit more at Nebraska that he wanted to, and I think part of that was by Bo's doing."
That was something Beck seemed to confirm after Pelini’s firing, also noting that he had to adjust his offenses at Nebraska for what he had.
"Here's what's interesting for the non-average fan," Beck said. "When you design an offense, you can't just run an offense and say 'By God, I'm going to run my offense, I don't care if it works or not.' If it's not fitting, or it's not working, or you're not scoring or not moving the ball, you'd better do something, because you're going to lose.
"And that's how I approached the offense. If we were struggling or we didn't have a good matchup or we had injuries at certain positions, we had to adjust. You have to adjust and you have to improvise. And the coaches who don't do that usually don't last that long."
Herman was noted as an expert when it came to the hurry-up offense, helping the Buckeyes install a faster tempo in his three years at OSU. Harvey said the Huskers have also toyed with that idea in the past but never went “full Oregon,” preferring to hurry to the line, overlook opposing defenses and adjust based on that.
Beck also had a fair amount of respect among offensive players, senior lineman Mike Moudy told the Omaha World Herald before the team’s Holiday Bowl game this year.
“He runs a good offense,” Moudy said. “He’s brilliant when it comes to offensive strategy, and he’s got a good relationship with his guys, which is probably the most important thing you can have as a coach.
“If you don’t have that relationship, if you don’t have that loyalty between you and your players, then you’re not going to get very far. And he has everyone on his side.”
As for his work on the recruiting trail, Beck is noted for his ties to Texas, which has been fertile recruiting ground for the Huskers over the years. Nebraska has pulled Armstrong and such notable players as Jamal Turner and David Santos out of the Lone Star State, and the Huskers have had multiple signees from the state every year since Beck arrived.
Herman also helped Ohio State get into the state in which OSU just won the national championship, bringing in J.T. Barrett and Dontre Wilson. Beck has Texas ties having coached at Carrollton Turner and Mansfield Summit from 1999-2004, but Harvey said he didn’t recruit as much in the Lone Star State as he probably would have liked based on the way Pelini set up recruiting responsibilities.
"He is very respected down there among the high school coaches in the East Texas community,” Harvey said. “He's the type of guy that if he lost his job he could get a high school job in Texas as a head coach with the snap of a finger. The thing about it is I think around 2012 or so they started to change the way they recruited and you saw the coordinators off the road a lot more than you did before. It became a situation where he really recruited his quarterback, and then after that it was more him assisting the position coaches and the area coaches.
Beck also has ties to Warinner, having worked at Kansas with the new OSU offensive coordinator. He was promoted to passing game coordinator in 2007, a year in which the Jayhawks finished second nationally in scoring offense in 2007 (42.8 ppg), eighth in total offense (479.8 ypg) and 17th in passing (291.0 ypg) and went 12-1 with an Orange Bowl win and No. 7 final national ranking.
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