Some of the legendary coaches in college football cut their coaching teeth in Ohio, and passed on that tradition to the younger coaches coming behind them. Woody Hayes, Paul Brown, Bo Schembechler and Ara Parseghian are just a few of the greats of college football that called Ohio home at one time.
There is no doubt that the tradition of Ohio developing great college coaches is certainly alive and well today, and there appears to be a few younger coaches ready to make their mark as well.
Urban Meyer: Meyer is one top of the football world right now after leading Florida to two national titles in the past four years. Meyer was born in Toledo and grew up in Ashtabula, eventually going on to play college football at Cincinnati. Meyer had two stints as an assistant coach at Ohio State before landing his first head coaching job at Bowling Green. Meyer often credits former Buckeye coach Earle Bruce for helping him become a successful college coach.
Nick Saban: Although Saban was born in West Virginia, there is no denying the role the Buckeye state played in shaping the career of the current Alabama head coach. Saban played college football at Kent State, where he also spent time as an assistant coach. He also coached as an assistant at Ohio State under Earle Bruce, and also served as the head coach at Toledo. His Crimson Tide team will play for the national title on January 7th against Texas. Saban previously won a national title as the head coach at LSU in 2003.
Jim Tressel: Tressel might be the most famous of the Ohio coaches simply because he is the head coach at Ohio State. Tressel was born in Mentor and played for his father, Lee, at Baldwin-Wallace. Following a stint as an assistant for Earle Bruce at Ohio State, Tressel had tremendous success as the head coach at Youngstown State, winning several national titles. Tressel proved that was no fluke when he won another national championship in his second year as the Buckeye head coach, and has had continued success at Ohio State.
Bob Stoops: Stoops was one of several coaches who were born in Youngstown. Following a great high school career at Cardinal Mooney, Stoops starred at Iowa before embarking on his coaching career. He is one of several sons of legendary Ohio high school coach Ron Stoops, who passed away in 1988. Bob Stoops led Oklahoma to the national title in 2000, and has made three appearances in the BCS title game since.
Bo Pellini: Pellini is yet another Youngstown Cardinal Mooney grad that has gone on to have success in the coaching ranks. Pellini played at Ohio State under both Earle Bruce and John Cooper, serving as a co-captain his senior season. Following a successful career as an NFL assistant, Pellini returned to the college game where he helped lead LSU to the 2007 national title as the Tiger's defensive coordinator. He is now the head coach at Nebraska and is in the process of reviving that program.
Gary Pinkel: Pinkel played high school football at Akron Kenmore before heading to Kent State, where he played on some great teams. He also spent time as an assistant coach at Bowling Green and Kent State, before having a successful career as the head coach at Toledo. He is currently the head coach at Missouri and has led the Tigers to five straight bowl appearances.
Mike Stoops: Stoops, the younger brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, is also another product of Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, and had a successful playing career at Iowa. Following time as both a player and coach in the NFL, Stoops entered college coaching, eventually becoming the head coach at Arizona. Under his direction, the once dormant Wildcat program has now qualified for bowl games in successive seasons, and the future is quite bright for Arizona under Mike Stoops.
Mark Dantonio: Dantonio was born and raised in Zanesville, before playing college football at South Carolina. Dantonio served two terms as an assistant at Ohio State, most recently helping lead the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship as defensive coordinator. He also assisted Jim Tressel at Youngstown State. Dantonio left Ohio State to become head coach at Cincinnati, and currently holds the same spot at Michigan State, where he has led the Spartans to three consecutive bowl appearances.
Tim Beckman: Beckman moved to Berea from Texas as a high school junior, later played college football at Findlay. He served as an assistant to Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, before taking an assistant coaching position for Jim Tressel at Ohio State. Beckman is currently the head coach at Toledo and just finished his first season with a 5-7 record.
Although things didn't go well for him in 2009, former Kansas head coach Mark Mangino led the Jayhawks to several successful seasons before being let go. Mangino was another Youngstown State disciple of Jim Tressel, both as a graduate and as an assistant coach.
Current Illinois head coach Ron Zook has seen his fortunes drop off recently after having early success, leading the Illini to the Rose Bowl in 2007. Zook began coaching in Orrville after playing for Miami of Ohio. He also assisted Earle Bruce at Ohio State for one season.
Two other national championship-winning coaches, Les Miles of LSU and Pete Carroll of USC, spent time in the Buckeye state. Miles played high school football in Elyria before going on to Michigan. Carroll was an assistant under Earle Bruce at Ohio State in 1980, coaching the secondary.
There are two younger coaches with Ohio ties that appear to be stars-on-the-rise in the coaching profession, and both will undergo new challenges in 2010.
Mark Stoops: Stoops is yet another member of this famous coaching family out of Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. He was recently named defensive coordinator at Florida State, where he replaces legendary Seminole coach Mickey Andrews. Not surprisingly, he began his coaching career in Ohio at Nordonia High School, before moving into the college ranks. Only 32 years old, Mark Stoops is certain to follow in his brother's footsteps and will be a college head coach at some point.
Eric Wolford: Wolford is a graduate of Youngstown Ursuline, and was recently named head coach at Youngstown State, following a successful career as an assistant coach. Wolford is only 38 years old, and a successful tour at Youngstown State could propel him to a Division-I college head coaching job. He was known as a great recruiter as well as a top-flight offensive line coach at both Illinois and South Carolina.