June 4, 2011

Who will be coaching Ohio State in 2012?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport. There are two questions this week, one today and one Sunday.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Who will be Ohio State's coach in 2012? A. Urban Meyer; B. Bo Pelini; C. Mark Dantonio; D. Somebody else?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
Hey, it might be Luke Fickell. I don't think it's out of the question to think Ohio State could post a 10-win season under Fickell and the administration then rewards him by removing the interim tag. After all, he has been part of a program that has won six straight Big Ten titles. But if it isn't Fickell, Meyer is the best bet. He has won two national titles and he's from Ohio. Ohio State can recruit regionally and still contend for national championships, an issue that Meyer said was important to him at Florida. If Meyer is ready to return to coaching by then, he would be Ohio State's choice.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
Because the program figures to be shackled with some severe NCAA sanctions, the next coach will be able to demand a long-term deal and an exorbitant salary. (Think Tom Crean at Indiana.) And the next Ohio State coach will need it. Even with that, would coaches such as Pelini, Dantonio, Chris Petersen or Dan Mullen want to leave stable situations for a mess at Ohio State? I think interim coach Luke Fickell is a long shot for the job. In the end, I believe Meyer will be the guy. No. 1, he's available. No. 2, he's a great coach. No. 3, he always has wanted the job. No. 4, he's an Ohio native. No. 5, he's only 46. No. 6, he will be rested and ready after not coaching this season. It all makes too much sense. The biggest issue with Meyer is that he didn't run a tight ship at Florida, as there were 30 player arrests during his six-year tenure in Gainesville.

David Fox's answer:
I'm going to say none of the above. If I were betting, I'd take the field on this one, especially if the NCAA hits Ohio State hard. I could see Ohio State making a Brady Hoke-type hire -- someone who may not overwhelm the fan base but is a solid hire nonetheless. Maybe I'm naive, but I'm probably the only person who's not sold on Urban Meyer sitting out for merely one year before taking another pressure-cooker job. Ohio State would be foolish not to ask Meyer. Still, I can't get the image out of my mind of Meyer at Florida at the end of 2009 and into 2010. That looked like a guy who needed more than a year to recharge. If Ohio State is going to face stiff NCAA sanctions, would the job be appealing to Bo Pelini, who already has one of the top jobs in the sport? Mark Dantonio seems like the most logical fit of anyone in the group, even if he was a Tressel assistant from 2001-03.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I'm going with "D," someone not listed. Maybe I'm naive, but I believe Meyer when he said he stepped down as Florida coach for health and family reasons. Leaving the pressure-cooker that is Gainesville for the pressure-cooker that is Columbus doesn't jibe with what he said. While Ohio State likely faces severe NCA sanctions, coaches will be lined up around the block for the job. The Buckeyes' national recruiting will suffer while they are on probation, but that can be quickly ramped back up when probation ends. Ohio State will aim high in its search and the school will get a big name -- just not anyone listed above.

Steve Megargee's answer:
The statement Meyer released through ESPN actually made me think it was more likely he eventually will take over as Ohio State's coach. Otherwise, why would Meyer have emphasized that he wouldn't pursue any coaching opportunities "this fall" when Ohio State already had declared that Luke Fickell would serve as the Buckeyes' interim coach in 2011? The job presumably isn't opening until after this fall, so Meyer still would be free to take the job in 2012. Meyer's Ohio roots and championship background at Florida make him a perfect fit for Ohio State's job, assuming he's interested in filling it. If Meyer decides he wants to spend more time away from coaching, the situation gets muddled. Bob Stoops has an Ohio background, but why would he leave Oklahoma for an Ohio State program nearly certain to face major sanctions? If Meyer doesn't want to go to Columbus, I wouldn't be all that surprised if Fickell becomes the permanent hire, particularly if he manages to lead Ohio State to double-digit wins while dealing with all the adversity he's sure to face this fall.


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