Assistants wait for Day to assemble staff

Bill Rabinowitz

PASADENA, Calif. — Until now, Ohio State’s assistant coaches said, they have been completely focused on preparing for the Rose Bowl.

That is their job and the only thing they could control. But they know that a new head coach — even one from within their ranks — has the prerogative to assemble his own staff. So many of the assistants might have coached for Ohio State for the last time on New Year’s Day.

“It is (tough),” running backs coach Tony Alford said. “You do your job as best you can, and if changes are forced to be made, you adapt and adjust accordingly. It’s like anyone else’s job. It’s just that more people are looking.”

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Some coaches are more secure than others when Ryan Day officially takes over as head coach for the retiring Urban Meyer on Wednesday. The only one locked in is receivers coach Brian Hartline, who had the interim tag removed from his title last month after a banner year by his position group. And ESPN was among those to report Tuesday that Day will bring in Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, a Euclid native, in a role yet to be determined.

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson said he hasn’t been officially told that he’s back, but it’s a given that he’ll return. Five-star signee Zach Harrison wouldn’t have written his name on a letter-of-intent if that were in doubt.

Several assistant coaches said that Day has not met formally with them to discuss their futures. But they attribute that to Day’s busy schedule.

“I can’t imagine what’s been on his plate,” Alford said. “I remember when he was named the head coach. It was like two days later, and he and I were on the road together in Atlanta. He was on the phone literally every moment talking to recruits.”

Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, who interviewed for the Bowling Green head coaching job that went to Scot Loeffler, said he’s working on the assumption that he’ll be back.

“I have no indication otherwise,” he said. “Expect to be here. If not, then hey, that’s Ryan’s decision. I understand completely.”

Day has deflected questions about which coaches he will retain. Those on the defensive side of the ball figure to be more vulnerable, based on that unit’s performance this week.

Defensive co-coordinator Alex Grinch might be the most secure coach in terms of returning. The Grove City native is considered a rising star in the coaching business and would be a candidate to be the defensive coordinator if Greg Schiano isn’t back.

Linebackers coach Bill Davis might the most endangered because of that unit’s struggles. Davis was best man for Meyer at his wedding, but he and Day coached together with the Philadelphia Eagles. He took partial credit for encouraging Meyer to hire Day as an assistant two years ago.

“I had just recently worked side by side with Ryan in Philly and had nothing but the utmost respect for him,” Davis said. “Urban came out to visit us. I said, ‘Urban, you have to get in Ryan’s (offseason) meetings and watch him coach quarterbacks.’”

Now Day will be the head coach, and Davis and others must wait to see if they will be on his staff.


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