Ohio State has already announced that previously-named interim coach Luke Fickell will guide the team for the entire 2011 season before the University evaluates the position going forward into 2012 and beyond -- assuming the Mayans are wrong.
At the end of the day -- despite the NCAA sanctions that the program is facing -- this is still THE Ohio State University and you can rest-assured that should the school decide to conduct a national coaching search post-2011, there will be no shortage of big-name candidates willing to accept the job if offered.
Here are the top five coaches that are most likely to comprise tOSU’s want-list.
Number Five - Mark Dantonio
The Michigan State head coach was the defensive coordinator at OSU before taking the gig in East Lansing.
Under Dantonio, the Spartans have closed the gap on Michigan as the state’s premier college football program, but Michigan may finally be back on track and coming back to Columbus to run the Big Ten’s best team over the past decade would be hard to pass up.
Considering what he was able to do at MSU, the sky is the limit with the resources and recruiting advantage Ohio State over practically every other Big ten school.
Number Four - Bo Pelini
Pelini is from Ohio and was a team captain of the 1992 Buckeyes football team, so it’s obvious that he’s a guy who will value the tradition of Ohio State football and, especially, the rivalry with Michigan.
He is, however, a complete contrast from Tressel, in that, he seems to be a bit of a hot-head, and if he thinks there’s pressure to win in Lincoln, he ain’t seen nothing yet.
Yes, he played here, but coaching here and trying to meet the expectations of the rabid Buckeye fanbase is a whole different animal.
Number Three - Luke Fickell
Fickell is a Buckeye through-and-through. He is a Columbus native and was a four-year defensive starter for Ohio State in the early to mid-1990’s.
He’s been an assistant coach for nine seasons and the assistant defensive coordinator since Dantonio headed north to MSU. He tops Pelini and Dantonio on the list as of right now because each of them are already head coaches in the Big Ten that may not be as available as Fickell is at the end of the 2011 season -- and, Fickell has a full year to audition for the job.
If he can lead these players to another Big Ten title in the face of all the adversity and against the mountain of turmoil the team must overcome, he will be considered a legitimate top-five candidate .
Number Two - Jon Gruden
The ESPN Monday Night Football commentator and former Super-Bowl-winning coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs has recently been rumored to be “getting the itch” to coach again.
The Sandusky, Ohio native played his college ball at Dayton and has been quoted as saying he is immensely proud of his Buckeye roots. It just feels safe to believe that Gruden would run a clean program with the right kind of players.
A lot can change in nearly a year and a half, but according to Sports Illustrated, Gruden, who would absolutely deny any and all rumors linking him to Ohio State until something was official, would almost definitely take the job too, if offered.
Number One - Urban Meyer
Health issues and family commitments aside, practically all speculation about who might take over as head coach of the Buckeyes in 2012 is centered on former Florida/Utah/BGSU head coach Meyer.
Meyer currently works as a college football analyst for ESPN and stated he isn’t looking to leave the network for the sidelines -- not this season, anyway.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Meyer’s family moved to Ashtabula, Ohio when he was just a child. He played football at the University of Cincinnati and was on Earle Bruce’s OSU staff in the mid-1980’s as a graduate assistant -- making Meyer the one coach that makes the absolute most sense to the pundits and the fans of Buckeye Nation alike.
One issue that does create some concern is the number of player arrests during Meyer’s tenure at Florida. With Ohio State looking to salvage and rebuild their image, that issue could be a deal-breaker if and when Meyer shows interest in what he has been quoted as saying is one of his all-time dream jobs.
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