Talking it over

Ohio defensive coordinator, and safeties coach, Ron Collins (left) communicates with redshirt freshman safety Isaac Gill prior to the 2019 Green & White scrimmage in April.

Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in a nine-part series outlining the 2019 Ohio Football roster and the outlook for the 2019 season. The series has broken down nine parts of the program, with a look at who returns, what’s changed, and what’s to come at each position. The series concludes today with a look at the Ohio coaching staff.

Frank Solich would be the first to tell you he’s not a complicated person.

He identifies what works, how it adheres to what he believes is the best way to go about building a football program, and then does it.

Year after year after year.

“You have to be consistent,” Solich said in April. “That’s the key. You establish how things need to be done, what things need to be done, and then do it.

“We’ve been able to establish a winning program here. That helps a lot in recruiting and getting facilities and things like that,” he continued. “Now it’s time to take another step.”

When Solich was hired by Ohio, it was deemed a bit of a gamble. Take a coach steeped in a power program his entire life, drop him in a struggling MAC-level program and see what happens.

What happened is what always seems to happen with Solich and football teams. The Bobcats got better, the Bobcats became consistent, and now Ohio’s year-to-year floor is higher than it’s ever been.

The upcoming 2019 season will be no different. Ohio should be the heavy favorite to win the MAC East, and eight or nine wins seems to be a fairly realistic goal. The Bobcats have finished second or better in the MAC East nine times in the last 14 years under Solich, and have reached the MAC title game four times.

But the MAC Championship remains out of reach. Solich is now the oldest FBS coach in the country (74), is the longest-tenured head coach in the MAC by far, and this season will become the MAC’s all-time leader in coaching victories.

Solich’s hire has been a smashing success by virtually any metric.

But 2019 will offer a change in the status quo of Solich’s rock-solid coaching staff. Jimmy Burrow, Ohio’s defensive coordinator the last 14 years, stepped away to watch his son, Joe, pursue his last season of college football as the quarterback at LSU.

With Solich, OC Tim Albin and Burrow, Ohio had its top three staff positions in place for 14 straight seasons. It was the longest such streak in the country, and now it’s over.

“It’s definitely a change,” Solich said.

Taking Burrow’s place is Ron Collins, who isn’t exactly a fresh-faced novice. Collins has been with Ohio eight years himself, and has had high-profile DC jobs at Boise State and Colorado. Collins knows the job, knows the program, knows the personnel and knows the defense.

Collins is in charge, but Ohio won’t be changing defensive horses in mid-stream.

“We’re still going to be doing what we’ve been doing,” Collins said. “We’re going to be a cover-4 defense. We’re going to be a four-man front.

“The difference will be hard to notice.”

That will be fine with Solich. Ohio will again be a run-first team, and should have an active, quick defense keyed to generating turnovers. Those are the core concepts that have been a part of Ohio football for the last 14 years, and will remain in place as long as Solich does.

And no, Solich isn’t planning on going off into the sunset anytime soon. He still talks about the next step, the next project, the next recruiting class. There’s work left to be done, and he’s knows how to go about it.

“We’re progressing. We’re close. It’s time,” he said.

2019 Ohio Football

Coaching staff

Frank Solich — Head Coach

Solich will begin his 15th season with Ohio this fall and will likely become the MAC’s all-time leader in coaching victories this season as well. Solich (106-75) needs four wins to match Herb Deromedi (CMU, 110-55-10) for the MAC record. Solich’s 10 bowl game appearances with Ohio are already a MAC record, three more than the next closest coach (Bob Pruett, 7, Marshall).

Tim Albin — Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs

Albin has been with Solich since the start in Athens, and like the head coach continues to find ways to get the job done. Ohio is coming off two of the best offensive seasons in program history (2017-18) but will have one of the youngest offenses he’s seen in his 15 years with the Bobcats.

Ron Collins — Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

Collins is in year eight with Ohio, and this will be his first as the defensive coordinator. He was the Co-Defensive Coordinator the last years with Jimmy Burrow, has called defenses at Boise State and Colorado, and is the kind of on-staff replacement for a major position that virtually no other program in the MAC can call upon.

Dwayne Dixon — Wide Receivers

Few coaches on staff are as colorful, or experienced, as Dixon, who is entering year No. 13 with Ohio. He’ll have a bevy of young players to press into the rotation this year, with freshmen and sophomores galore, but he’ll also have talent to work with as well.

Pete Germano — Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Ends

Germano is another old-hand on staff. He’s back for year two of his second stint with Ohio and Solich. He was on Solich’s first staff at Ohio (and prior to Solich as well) for a total of 11 years before a five-year stint at Fresno State. He replaces Collins in the Co-Defensive Coordinator role this season.

Brian Haines — Special Teams Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator/Tight Ends

Haines, now entering year 12 with Ohio, wears many hats. He’s in charge of bringing all the recruiting and special teams efforts together in a cohesive form. In general, Ohio’s special teams have been among the best in the MAC for the last half-decade.

Scott Isphording — Quarterbacks

Another coach with multiple stops at Ohio under Solich, Isphording returned to Athens after a four-year stint at Toledo in 2014. He’s been instrumental in getting the most out of Nathan Rourke the last two years, and has seen a recruiting uptick in the position.

Tremayne Scott — Defensive Tackles

One of Solich’s former players at Ohio, Scott is in his second year coaching up the Bobcat defensive tackles. For a second straight year, he’ll be tasked with finding replacements for a pair of starters on the interior of the defensive line.

De’Angelo Smith — Cornerbacks

A former standout CB at Cincinnati who had a brief NFL career, Smith has quickly helped Ohio develop quality depth at the position. In his third season, Smith will have as many experienced players to work with — and potential all-conference talent — as Ohio has had in the same span.

Allen Rudolph — Offensive Line

Rudolph is the only coach on staff who didn’t have a connection with Ohio, Solich, or the program, last season. Rudolph is the third offensive line coach for Ohio in the past four years. The hopes remain high that the standard of play will remain the same however.

Nate Faanes — Linebackers

The youngest coach on staff, Faanes will be a first-time full-time assistant at the FBS level with Ohio this season. He’s been with the program the three previous seasons as a graduate assistant, and worked closely with Collins over the previous two seasons.

Chris Rodgers — Assistant AD for Football Operations

Another former player for Solich at Ohio, Rodgers handles all the detail work that goes with a FBS program. He played for the Bobcats from 2005-09, and has been ensconced in the Ops department at Ohio since 2014.

Ryan Bainbridge — Director of Player Personnel and High School Relations

In just his third season, Bainbridge has earned praise from Solich for his efforts to ramp up Ohio’s high school camps, outreach programs and overall recruiting. An Ohio graduate, Bainbridge and quickly become a key part of the program moving forward.

Dak Notestine — Director of Strength and Conditioning

Notestine was one of the walk-on success stories of the early Solich years at Ohio. He was a walk-on, became a starter at defensive end, and ended his career as a team captain. Now, he’s in charge of the overall strength program for Ohio Football, and knows exactly what works and what doesn’t in terms of the demands from the head coach.

Email at jarkley@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @JasonAmessenger

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