When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.
The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.
The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.
Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.
Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.
2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List
- Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
- James Franklin, Penn State
- Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
- Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
- Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
- Clay Helton, USC
- Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
- Butch Jones, Tennessee
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn
- Jim McElwain, Florida
- Urban Meyer, Ohio State
- Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
- Chris Petersen, Washington
- Mark Richt, Miami
- Nick Saban, Alabama
- David Shaw, Stanford
- Bill Snyder, Kansas State
- Dabo Swinney, Clemson
- Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Texas head coach Tom Herman and former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones may forever be tied together thanks to Ohio State’s run to a national championship in the 2014 season, the first year of the College Football Playoff. Herman, as a quarterback coach for the Buckeyes at the time, was a big influence on Jones, who had stepped in for an injured J.T. Barrett at the end of the season and the postseason run. Now, Herman is carving time out of his schedule as the Longhorns head coach to return to Columbus in a show of support for Jones.
As reported by Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com, Herman turned down an invitation to join Migos and Chance the Rapper at a concert in Austin so he could be there for the graduation ceremony for Jones.
“They told me Migos and Chance the Rapper were gonna be here (in Austin) on Sunday, the seventh and wanted to meet me,” Herman said to Feldman. “I said ‘No, I’m gonna be in Columbus.”
That should be a good testament for how much the relationship the each and player have to this day. It turns out, as Herman explained to Feldman in the interview, Herman was a big reason why Jones was able to stick with the Buckeyes as long as he did.
“[Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer] wanted to kick him out of the program multiple times. It fell on me and Michelle, and so to see him get where he has got and mature the way that he has matured,” Herman explained. “Wow. It’s what we always talked about. You don’t have to be stuffy and buttoned-up to know when to say what and keep your mouth shut.”
If Herman is responsible for keeping Jones in check, then maybe Herman deserves a little more credit for Ohio State’s run to the College Football Playoff national championship than suspected.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer takes great pride in coaching the Buckeyes and keeping some of the state’s top high school talent in Columbus. Considering the depth of talent throughout the state, it is no wonder why he would want to do so. As Ohio State puts the finishing touches on its Class of 2017, Meyer will look back at a strong recruiting effort that will net one of the top classes in the country, but he cannot help but regret not getting more players from Ohio to be a part of the recruiting class.
Ohio State’s Class of 2017 includes seven players from the state, including four of the top 10 players from the state. Among those are the state’s top two recruits according to Rivals, offensive lineman Josh Myers and athlete Brendon White. Wide receiver Jaylen Harris and defensive back Amir Riep are the other top 10 Ohio recruits to commit to Ohio State. For the sake of comparison, Ohio State’s Class of 2016 included four of the state’s top 10 recruits as well. Ideally, Meyer admitted, he would like to see roughly half of his recruiting class made up of Ohio players.
The tradeoff, of course, is excelling with recruiting efforts in other states and regions that have helped Ohio State construct a roster that helps separate them from the rest of the Big Ten (and win a national championship). That’s a pretty solid tradeoff. Ohio State’s Class of 2017 is highlighted by a five-star defensive back from Florida (Shaun Wade), a five-star offensive lineman from California (Wyatt Davis), a five-star defensive end from Maryland (Chase Young) and a five-star defensive back from Texas (Jeffrey Okudah), just to name a few. None of the six five-star players to sign with Ohio State hail from Ohio. In fact, no recruit from the state was given a five-star ranking by Rivals, although there were plenty of four-star players to choose from.
More often than not, Ohio State is going to get the cream of the crop from the state of Ohio. Top players in the state will always go elsewhere, like athlete JaVonte Richardson heading to Kentucky, quarterback Sean Clifford going to Penn State and defensive end James Hudson going north to Michigan this year, but the Buckeyes will always have a strong recruiting base right in their backyard. Meyer knows keeping strong connections in the state are essential, but some years he will have to go out of state to put together the best possible class he can.
For the second time in a matter of weeks, Ohio State is losing an offensive coordinator to another program. Fortunately, they had a replacement ready to slide into the spot.
Ohio State made the hiring of offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, the former head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, official on Tuesday. The addition of Wilson comes at a time when Ohio State has seen both co-offensive cooridnators move to new jobs and the Buckeyes fresh off the only shutout loss in postseason bowl play this past season. Wilson was fired amid concern over his treatment of players in Bloomington, which will have to be addressed by Ohio State once Wilson is officially introduced, but as far as his offensive coaching is concerned, the Buckeyes have a potentially solid upgrade at offensive coordinator.
Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reports, via Twitter, Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner will leave the Buckeyes program to take on a role as offensive line coach at Minnesota under new head coach P.J. Fleck.
There had been some discussion in the rumor mill about Warinner leaving to join the Minnesota staff, but reports of him becoming the offensive coordinator for the Gophers were silenced. However, with the addition of Wilson to the staff, Warinner would have had to settle with being demoted to offensive line coach in Columbus. That’s not exactly a bad job at all, but at Minnesota he will be given a fresh start under new leadership and perhaps have a chance to grow as an assistant under Fleck. His impact on improving Minnesota’s offensive line should be closely monitored, as the Gophers will now be on their third offensive line coach in as many seasons.
Ohio State also saw Tim Beck leave Ohio State to join former Ohio State assistant Tom Herman in Texas.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said he was intrigued by the idea of using former players to mimic opposing players in practices after word got out Nick Saban was doing so down in Alabama. It seems Meyer did the research and tried to give it a shot himself by using former Ohio State wide receiver Brian Hartline on the scout team.
Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins took to Twitter to offer his compliments to the hard work ethic brought to the practice field by the former Buckeye and NFL wide receiver.
Hartline, who played with the Miami Dolphins from 2009 through 2014 and the Cleveland Browns in 2015, responded. The tweet, however, was deleted (but here’s a screen shot that was grabbed before the tweet vanished).
The tweet was likely deleted because it is an NCAA violation to promote the appearance beforehand of any former player participating in a practice. This may not be something the NCAA takes a hard look at from an investigative standpoint. If they did, it would result in nothing more than a slap on the wrist or a finger wag at best.
Clemson was using former quarterback Tajh Boyd to mimic Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett last week.