With the extreme roster turnover facing Ohio State entering the 2016 season, the fact that the Buckeyes are also breaking in two new assistant coaches has almost become an afterthought.
Yes, Greg Schiano and Greg Studrawa went through spring practice with Ohio State, but both are preparing for their first football season as Buckeye assistants. Studrawa has worked under Meyer in the past, serving as the offensive line coach at Bowling Green. The same cannot be said of Schiano, and the safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator is tasked with not only adjusting to working under Meyer, but adjusting to the role of assistant coach after leading teams at Rutgers and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL.
According to Schiano, it’s so far, so good. He said that being an assistant again has not been a struggle and working for his close friend has been a philosophical match.
“Urban is an excellent head coach,” Schiano said. “Profound thought, right? The guy has won national championships, but I mean I really enjoy not having to be the guy up there. I listen to what he says and, ‘yeah, that’s a good idea right there.' And he does such a good job of setting and then aligning the culture from top to bottom within our organization. It doesn’t matter who it is, a trainer or a coach or a person who cleans the building, there’s an alignment. I think that’s one of the things, obviously great players and great coaches, but that alignment of everyone is something that he’s phenomenal at.”
Schiano, who replaced Chris Ash after the former Buckeye assistant took the head coaching job at Rutgers, has had no issues aligning with culture at Ohio State. That doesn’t mean, however, that he hasn’t changed some things.
Damon Webb, a leader for one of the starting safety spots early in fall camp, said that Schiano has brought a more up-tempo approach to the defense.
“I feel like he has a great impact,” the junior said. “A lot of players on our team respect him. I know he has a lot of knowledge to the game. I know he’s going to bring his philosophy to our defense to take our defense to the next level.
“(The team) has responded great. All the feedback that I’ve been getting from them saying he’s a great coach.”
Meyer admitted some trepidation about bringing a coach on staff who had been so successful as an individual (Schiano was 68-67 at Rutgers, but posted a 49-28 record over his final six seasons there) and some hesitation towards breaking his policy of hiring friends.
“He was an exception because we're that close, we've been good friends for 20-plus years,” Meyer said. “We share very similar philosophical views on how to run a program and how to treat players and what to expect out of your coaching staff. And he's been a gold mine for me.
“So it's been, I'm not sure perfect is the right word, but it's been exceptional. And it's great to have him on the staff. I just admire the guy. I wondered how that would work. I was very skeptical -- how do you go to not be the head coach.”
In the end, however, Schiano was too good a coach and too good a friend for Meyer to pass up, and early reports from fall camp would suggest he’s been a good fit for the Buckeye defense.