If you thought keeping up with the Joneses was hard work, try going toe-to-toe with Ohio State football.
The Buckeyes extended coach Urban Meyer’s contract two years through 2022 and gave him a $1.2 million raise to $7.6 million annually. That makes him the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten and No. 3 nationally behind Alabama’s Nick Saban ($11.1 million) and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney ($8.5 million).
It looks like money well spent on Meyer, who is 73-8 in six seasons.
During his term, OSU is second nationally in victories and tied for the fewest losses. Forty Buckeyes have been drafted in those six years, including 12 in the first round.
Of course, Meyer can’t do it all himself — though on occasion, he has tried — so Ohio State kicked in $3.4 million for assistant’s raises in 2018.
Again, that’s just for raises. The total assistant salaries is $6.56 million.
For the first time, Ohio State has million-dollar coordinators. Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano got an $800,000 raise to $1.5 million a year. Offensive coordinator Ryan Day got a $600,000 raise to $1 million annually, plus a three-year contract.
Eight of the Buckeyes’ 10 full-time assistants are believed to be in the top three of the Big Ten in salary at their position.
“The reality,” OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith said, “is we have to compensate people for the expectations and their performance.”
Those raises came two months after Smith labeled Texas A&M’s 10-year, $75-million contract to Jimbo Fisher “ridiculous.” Hey, it may be ridiculous, but Ohio State will always buy all the chips needed for a seat at the big-boy table.
Meyer has one national title, two Big Ten titles and six division championships.
Those totals could well be two, three and seven by season’s end — even after losing one of the most decorated quarterbacks in school history (J.T. Barrett) and six players picked in the first 102 slots of the NFL draft.
It’s plug-and-play at Ohio State.
The new quarterback will be 6-foot-3, 218-pound sophomore Dwayne Haskins, who beat out Nebraska legacy Joe Burrow, who in turn transferred to LSU. Haskins saved Ohio State’s season last year by replacing the injured Barrett in the third quarter against Michigan and leading three scoring drives in a 31-20 victory.
The Buckeyes have two running backs, J.K. Dobbins (1,403 yards last year) and Mike Weber (1,096 in 2016), with the talent to win the Heisman Trophy. But neither likely will get enough carries to contend because of the diversity of offensive talent.
Along the defensive front, five Ohio State players got drafted or earned NFL invites.
Disaster, right? Hardly.
The front four may be even stronger this season, with end Nick Bosa a potential No. 1 overall pick and tackle Dre’Mont Jones another first-round prospect.
The health of middle linebacker Tuf Borland is a concern. He hurt his Achilles tendon in spring ball and is expected to be far less than full speed through fall camp. If Borland can’t go, two former five-star prospects are backing him up.
That sums up the extent of any “woe” at Ohio State. Good luck keeping up.
Coach: Urban Meyer, 73-8, seventh year
2017 record: 12-2 (8-1, 1st in East)
Returning starters: 14 (8 offense, 4 defense, 2 kickers)
Good news: The talent pipeline continues to gush. Meyer has said his 2018 recruiting class could be his best ever.
Not so good: Assistant coach Mike Vrabel took the Tennessee Titans job, and took fellow assistant Kerry Coombs with him. Coombs has been a star on the recruiting trail, but there won’t be much slack on the road or with the defense. Meyer hired the defensive coordinators from Temple and Washington State to join the staff.
Pay attention to: The tight end? That seems to be the only position really with any question marks. Even if OSU struggles to find one, the top six wide receivers from a year ago are back.