FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — When Urban Meyer was hired at Ohio State in November 2011, he asked his assistant coaches for a two-year commitment.
Will there suddenly be an exodus after tonight's Orange Bowl?
Probably not, but change is coming. Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers recently accepted the head job at James Madison of the FCS, two assistants were finalists for other jobs, and the ripples from hires at places like Texas and Penn State could reach Columbus. One hot name is offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
“Whenever you have the last two seasons like we've had, they're hot guys,” Meyer said. “I've gotten a lot of phone calls about our guys, head coaching opportunities.”
His first post-Orange Bowl job is replacing Withers, who will be with the Buckeyes in the bowl game. He is unsure if the new hire will assume Withers' title — co-coordinator and safeties coach — though it appears Luke Fickell will continue to run the defense.
“That hire occupies a lot of my time,” Meyer said. “This is a big one. Coach Withers has done an excellent job with recruiting. Statistically, we had some issues in [the secondary], but he's a great football coach and a great friend. We have to hit a home run on this next hire.”
OSU recruiting assistant John Bowers — who coached under Meyer at Bowling Green — is also joining Withers' staff, according to FootballScoop.com.
Staying in Columbus, meanwhile, are running backs coach Stan Drayton and offensive line coach Ed Warinner. Drayton was a finalist at Florida Atlantic University while Warinner interviewed at Army, where he had previously coached for 13 seasons. FAU hired Arkansas assistant Charlie Partridge; Army went with Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken
“Be thankful for the ambition in your heart,” Drayton posted on Twitter. “Always count your blessings for where you are. Happy to be a Buckeye. Go Bucks!”
Said Warinner: “They made a decision about what's best for their program moving forward, and at the end of the day, I get to be a Buckeye. That's a really good thing.”
BRYANT DONE: Buckeyes safety Christian Bryant's college career appears over. The NCAA denied the fourth-year senior's appeal for a fifth season while Bryant continues to rehab the broken ankle that abbreviated his season.
“I'm not sure there's another appeal process, but appeals haven't been very good to the Buckeyes recently,” Meyer said, referring to the failed appeal of defensive end Noah Spence's three-game suspension for a Big Ten rules violation.
To receive a medical redshirt, the NCAA states a player must not have participated in more than 30 percent of the season — the bowl game not included. Bryant was injured in the fifth game against Wisconsin, which means he played in 38 percent of the Buckeyes' 13 contests.
HYDE'S LAST STAND: How many yards would OSU running back Carlos Hyde have devoured if he wasn't suspended for the first three games?
“There's no telling,” he said. “I think I would have gotten close to 2,000.”
And would he have been a Heisman finalist?
“I probably would have got it,” he said.
The senior from Naples, Fla., is intent on leaving with another milestone instead.
“Perfect ending for me would be beating . That's the most rushing yards in the Orange Bowl,” Hyde said, having looked up Nebraska running back Ahman Green's outburst in 1998.
Hyde, whose suspension came after an altercation with a woman at a Columbus bar, has rushed for 1,408 yards and 14 TDs in 10 games.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
• Could Tim Tebow be joining the Buckeyes' staff? Coach Urban Meyer and his former Heisman-winning quarterback at Florida, who was hired this week as an analyst for ESPN's SEC Network, have talked about reuniting. “But not serious talks,” Meyer said, “because I don't want to disrupt his dream. His dream is to go play quarterback in the National Football League, and I don't think we're there yet that in his mindset that he's done. So nothing serious.” A first-round pick by the Broncos in 2010, Tebow was cut by the Patriots earlier this season. Meyer said he recommended the ESPN gig to Tebow. “Tim will excel at anything he does because of his work ethic and his passion,” he said. “Tim and I talk frequently. He's like a family member. I just hope he's not done playing.”
• Dabo Swinney joked he knows how Woody Hayes felt when the iconic OSU coach cold-cocked Clemson lineman Charlie Bauman in the 1978 Gator Bowl. “There's been a few times I'd loved to have run out there and punched a few guys myself,” said the Tigers coach, who is known for his sideline histrionics. “But I've never crossed that line.” Hayes coached 28 seasons at Ohio State before The Punch ended his career.
• The Orange Bowl isn't the only thing on many of the Buckeyes' minds. Up to a dozen OSU juniors and seniors will begin training next week for the NFL draft — and it's reasonable to wonder if some already have a foot out the door. “We can say that doesn't exist, but that's a flat lie,” Meyer said. “Every player that comes to Ohio State, every player with a dream of playing in the National Football League, that is a fact. We don't hide from that fact. If you do a good job of recruiting, coaching, developing, every Ohio State football player should play in the NFL. What round? That's all up to how blessed the individual is. But if I see or hear [NFL distractions], I've done this long enough that I've had to have conversations with people. I haven't felt that with this group at all.”