COLUMBUS, Ohio ― Greg Schiano can get everything he wants out of his career right now without leaving Ohio State.
That includes checking off his primary goal of once again being a head coach.
Bear with me, because nothing has happened to Urban Meyer or the leadership at the very top of his powerhouse program. In some ways, this is going to take a little massaging of the titles and maybe a touch of imagination as the structure of the coaching staff changes a bit with the addition of an extra assistant.
Even after Schiano’s turbulent experience with Tennessee, there have been and will continue to be options for him to move on elsewhere ― either leading a college team or pursuing coordinating jobs in the NFL that could propel him back into a top seat at that level. And he continues to make it no secret that he views that as his calling and still motivates him, despite already achieving those goals as coach of both Rutgers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So, why stay with the Buckeyes for a third season? Maybe it’s because he can effectively become a “head coach” of the Ohio State defense, the de facto CEO of the Silver Bullets even while obviously still ranking below Meyer on the overall corporate ladder. That certainly wouldn’t be the only reason Schiano spurned the New England Patriots and anybody else that inquired about him after the bizarre saga on Rocky Top, but it sure seems like it would be a pretty good one.
“I’m going to stick to the job that I have, but I do have aspirations of doing that,” Schiano said of being a head coach again. “But it doesn’t have to happen, if that makes sense. I’ve done it for 13 years, I enjoy doing it, but I love what I’m doing right now.
“I’m at the stage of my career where [what matters] is if I enjoy getting up to go to work, if I enjoy the people I do it with, and most importantly, is my family in a good situation? When the answer is yes, yes, yes, then it would really take something special to get you to not do that.”
So, how is this for special?
Schiano doesn’t have to move his family from Columbus, a place where they have grown comfortable over the last two years. He gets to continue to work with one of the most talented rosters in the nation, a unit that will return perhaps the country’s best overall defender with Nick Bosa back at defensive end and anchored by a secondary with an embarrassment of riches at cornerback. Reading between the lines, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is likely going to make him the first million-dollar assistant in the program’s history.
And thanks to the newly -balanced staff and his relationship with Meyer, Schiano essentially could be able to take a big-picture, head-coaching approach on the defensive side of the ball ― without having to deal with some of the big-picture, head-coaching headaches that come with the desk in the largest office. For everybody involved, that feels like an absolutely ideal fit.
“He’s essential to our program right now, Coach Schiano,” Meyer said. “If he is not my best recruiter, he’s certainly right there near the top. He manages so much for me off the field as well as being one of the top defensive coordinators in America. And he’s a relationship person.
“He’s not one of those coaches that knows his position or that side of the ball and that’s it, he knows every one. Because he’s been a head coach before.”
Maybe Schiano officially will be one again down the road. Maybe the responsibilities he already has with the Buckeyes make him feel as if he’s already one now. Heck, maybe Schiano is peering into the future and thinks staying put might be his best shot at winning big with a major program if the “back end” of Meyer’s career ever truly arrives, as Clemson coach Dabo Swinney reportedly mentioned was closer than some might think.
That’s all a lot of speculation to throw out at once for Schiano, particularly since only he knows what’s it been like to go through this process and ultimately make up his mind about his future.
But here’s something that’s certain: If Schiano didn’t think he could accomplish everything he wanted to at Ohio State, he wouldn’t still be there.
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