Opinion: Is Wilson Too Hot to Hire at Ohio State?

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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)


The American Football Coaches Association convention runs through Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, a host city that fits perfectly with the task of Ohio State reorganizing its offense.

As it turns out, the Buckeyes' offense against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl resembled a country music song worthy of the Grand Ole Opry.

Tell me why you disappeared the minute those tough times came a-knockin' at the door

In a 31-0 loss, the Buckeyes failed to find a running game, misplaced their passing game, and if the playoff semifinal had lasted another hour might have lost their dog and truck, too. The only saving grace is Ohio State did not get dumped by its girlfriend. Instead, OSU did the dumping, or at least was part of a divorce that saw quarterbacks coach Tim Beck leave to become offensive coordinator under Tom Herman at Texas.

One senses the dust has not settled, that another breakup (or two?) could be coming, which brings us to the AFCA convention.

The convention unofficially serves several purposes. It allows assistant coaches to catch up with friends, complain about their bosses and sniff around for new jobs. Is Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner sniffing? Several reports since the Fiesta Bowl suggest Ohio State is interested in hiring former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson to replace Warinner.

Initially, it felt like Ohio State coach Urban Meyer would retool the entire offensive coaching staff within days of the bowl game, but his immediate anger gave way to a mindful assessment of the offensive performance. Meyer also knows to wait until after the AFCA convention to make changes, which allows his coaches to find other jobs and make softer landings. Of course, it is possible Warinner could remain on staff, returning to his previous position as offensive line coach, but that would mean one coach still would need to go, if Wilson comes on board.

Wilson is a hot name at the moment, in more ways than one. Meyer has praised the 55-year-old for his ability to get the most out of his offenses, but Wilson also was forced out at Indiana after six seasons amid allegations that he mistreated players, including rushing them back from injuries.

Fred Glass, IU's director of athletics, said in early December that Wilson's departure was about "philosophical differences" and had "nothing to do with the performance of the football team."

Wilson's methods could be the tough tactics of an old-school coach and nothing outside the norm, or they could go beyond what should be considered acceptable behavior. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Wilson certainly knows how to run an offense, but university higher-ups tend to get nervous when athletics, abuse and liability get used in the same sentence. If Wilson ends up at Ohio State, one would expect the Board of Trustees to have triple-vetted him.

Again, Wilson's credentials as an offensive guru are impressive. Nationally, the Hoosiers slipped to 56th in total offense this season, but they ranked in the top 15 in two of the previous three years. Wilson's teams play up-tempo and tend to pass off play-action, a style the Buckeyes would be wise to implement. Ohio State's passing efficiency in its last three games, against Clemson, Michigan and Michigan State, dropped to a dismal 68.3.

Wilson likely would improve the Buckeyes' offense, even one that has been depleted by hybrid back Curtis Samuel and receiver Noah Brown opting to turn pro. If it works at IU, it should work at OSU. But will Meyer pull the trigger? Will the university let him?

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January 10, 2017


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