That's what we think, so with that in mind, we're asking 20 Questions when it comes to the Ohio State football team. Every day from now until the opening game week, we'll have our BSB writers answer one question about the Ohio State football team. Some will be serious, some will be funny, and none will be "Animal, vegetable or mineral?" But all should help you think about the upcoming season, hopefully in a different way than before.
Question 3: How noticeable will the loss of Tom Herman be?
Ryan Ginn: Because of some fortuitous circumstances, I think it will be a lot less noticeable than it would have been if Herman left after the 2013 season. Ohio State’s quarterback this year will be a proven one, which always makes the transition easier. But more importantly than that, the person with the final say on all things offense never left.
“It’s not my offense, it’s Coach Meyer and Ohio State’s offense,” Ed Warinner said this spring. “My job is to make sure that we continue to operate at a high level and then to enhance the offense as we move forward. I’m not going to try to do anything other than continue to carry the banner of execution.”
So there’s that. Warinner happens to be pretty good at those aforementioned job duties, too. He was the offensive coordinator at Kansas for the Jayhawks’ magical 2007 season, and the final stats from that season now double as the program’s record book. If you’re into continuity, I’d also note that the passing game coordinator Warinner worked with at Kansas was a guy named Tim Beck. If Ohio State had to replace a record-setting coordinator, this is the way to do it.
Blake Williams: Another tough one. When are we going to get some softballs lofted over the plate? This is tricky because as good a coach as I think Tom Herman is – and I think he was the most impressive and one of the most important assistants on staff last season – he was still just a piece in the Urban Meyer machine. Last I checked, Meyer was still running the show in Columbus and that should be able to mitigate much of the loss of Herman.
Herman is an inventive play caller who really fit in with Meyer’s offense, but Ed Warinner knows what he is doing and I don’t expect much drop off in that area. The bigger question is what’s the impact on the quarterback room? Clearly, Herman was doing something (everything) right in that regard last season and the burden on Tim Beck to replicate his impact there is massive. While Beck seems like a good fit, I’m not sure anyone could match Herman in that room in their first year on the job. Thankfully for Buckeye fans the QBs are pretty developed, but I think Meyer will have to pull focus from some other areas to supplement Beck in that unit room.
Jeff Svoboda: I'll start by saying that I don't think Ohio State could have done a better job replacing Herman than it did. Tim Beck checked off every box – he's from Ohio, he can recruit Texas like Herman, he ran an inventive and effective offense that wasn't dissimilar from OSU's at Nebraska, and he has a rapport with Ed Warinner having coached with him at Kansas. Warinner moves up to the big chair, and given his resume and success running the show at KU, he has the bona fides to do it. On top of that, the Buckeyes were running the Urban Meyer offense, not the Tom Herman offense, so there won't be any major structural changes to what the Buckeyes do.
So all of that is a positive, but I will say it still won't be easy to replace Herman. Warinner has called plays before and was on the headsets with Herman and Meyer in previous years, but I'm not sure being in charge of the plays in the hectic nature of game day is akin to getting on a bike again. Beck has also been placed into the eye of the storm as far as being a part of the craziest quarterback competition perhaps in college football history. It took Herman a long time to get on the same plane as Braxton Miller and Cardale Jones, and time in the heat of a QB competition is a luxury Beck doesn't exactly have. So one has to think there will be a little impact there, and losing a coach of Herman's caliber is never a good thing. But as I said before, at least the Buckeyes did the absolute best they could to fill the hole.