Rare is the great program in college football that doesn't shed coaches. Top-performing teams are incubators of talent, and that talent becomes the freshest kill on the savanna once the final gun sounds. Such is the case in Columbus, where the assistants frequently find themselves being courted by programs in need of a reboot. Last January, as the confetti rained down, Ohio State offensive wunderkind Tom Herman literally switched hats. While the National Championship trophy was headed back to Ohio, Herman was headed in the opposite direction to a new job as the head coach at Houston.
The departure of Tom Herman was not unexpected. His replacement, on the other hand, is a bit of a surprise. Urban Meyer moved swiftly to fill the void in his staff with the addition of Tim Beck (no, not Tim Beckman, thank god). Beck comes to Columbus by way of America's corn-fed interior. His most recent coaching stint came under the Notorious B.o.P at Nebraska. Prior to that, he coached wide receivers and served as passing game coordinator at Kanssas
Scoff if you will--and you might yet--but under his tutelage at KU, the Jayhawks had their best season in nearly anyone's memory. KU, having been moribund for years, catapulted to a 12-1 season on the back of second-in-the-nation offense. Each of Beck's receivers caught 24 or more passes. Not bad for a team that previously couldn't find the endzone with a compass and a guide dog.
Beck capitalized on his success in Lawrence by joining the staff of the B1G's most Big XII school. Pelini hired Beck in 2008 as the Cornhuskers' new....running backs coach? That probably made sense in Pelini's world, which is why it seems so odd to the rest of us. Nonetheless, the Huskers ran fairly effectively in his first season. Thereafter, Bolicious P doubled down on his bet and elevated Beck to the OC position, along with the dubious distinction of coaching the Husker QB bullpen.
In the four years he managed the Husker offense, there were some notable bright spots:
- Taylor Martinez amassed 2871 yards passing and another 1019 on the ground in 2012
- Nebraska finished 15th in the nation in total offense in 2012
- The Huskers boasted the 7th-best rushing attack nationally in 2012
- Nebraska also fielded the 11th-ranked rushing offense in 2011 and the 23rd-best rushing offense in 2013.
- With a 19th-ranked rushing game in 2014, Beck produced a top-25 rushing offense annually over four years
To be fair, there were some not so bright spots as well:
- Beck's 2014 passing game ranked an abysmal 76th in the nation in total yardage
- In 2013, his Husker heaving attack posted an anemic 196.7 ypg, good for a shameful 98th in the country
- Despite 2012 being far and away the best year of the Martinez era, Nebraska's passing game was scarcely better than the following year, coming in at 90th on the back of only 207.4 ypg.
- Nebraska lost 4 games every single year that Beck was at the helm of the offense.
Some say that Beck's offensive scheming was severely hampered by Pelini, though how and more importantly why remains a mystery. I'd imagine that Martinez's penchant for interceptions and outright panic in the backfield didn't help Beck's execution.
So, where does this leave us? Or more importantly, where does it leave the Buckeyes in 2015? The answer to the former is murky at best. As to the latter, it's worth noting that Beck has been primarily hired as a position coach for Ohio State's corral of QBs. The chief playcalling duties will still fall to former co-OC Ed Warriner. Warriner is a veteran in the program and is likely to bring some measure of last year's mindset to this year's scheme.
Not for nothing, but Tom Herman was far from infallible. More than once last season I lamented his lack of creativity and his seeming inability to get a defense out of position. As a result, he too often relied on the QB's legs to bail the offense out of a tough spot. I was fairly certain that J.T. Barrett was going to get killed at several points during the season. So while he was instrumental in the national title, he was by no means the indispensable linchpin of the offense's output.