It is natural for Bobcats fans to be concerned about the state of the program after losing a head coach of the caliber of Frank Solich, who retired as the MAC’s all-time leader in victories back in late July.
Long-time Bobcat fans will remember the coaching carousel and perpetual losing that was the state of the ‘Cats program before Solich and company brought order to the chaos; in the 22 seasons prior to Solich, the Bobcats had more head coaches (five) than winning seasons (two).
Yet, with the loss of Solich and hiring of new head coach Tim Albin to a four-year deal, the situation is about as good as it could be for Ohio football when compared with what usually happens with a head coaching change, where continuity is sacrificed for a new approach, which may or may not work.
Albin, defensive coordinators Ron Collins and Pete Germano and new offensive coordinators Scott Isphording and Allen Rudolph have more than 50 years combined coaching experience at Ohio, so there is a real shot the winning culture they helped develop will survive the coaching change.
And while Solich will not be intimately involved on a daily basis, he will still be available as an advisor to Ohio athletics, so Albin and company can still tap into his insights and experience for important decisions where desired.
With that, we take a look at the coaching staff in 2021, from established Veterans to some of the younger coaches who have opportunities to make an impact.
Experienced coaching staff
Despite the loss of Solich as head coach, the Bobcats arguably still have the best coaching staff in the MAC. If not the best, then it’s certainly one of the most consistent.
Outside of Athens or MAC circles, Tim Albin has not gotten nearly the attention his success deserved as Ohio’s offensive coordinator; for example, in the last ten years under Albin, the Bobcats have had seven of their highest scoring seasons in program history.
In the last three full seasons, the Bobcats finished an average of 13th out of 130 teams in the FBS in scoring with 38 points per game.
In addition to Albin, the core group of Ohio coaches have a long track record of success . Here is a snapshot of the lead coaches and some career highlights:
Ohio Coaching Staff
|Coach||Assignment||Selected Career Highlights|
|Coach||Assignment||Selected Career Highlights|
|Ron Collins||Defensive Coordinator, Safeties||10th Ohio season, 3rd as DC, as Boise St. DC, 2002-2005, 45-7 record, 3x top 15 coaches poll finishes, 26 All-WAC defenders|
|Pete Germano||Co-Defensive Coordinator, DE's||16th Ohio season, 5 years d-line coach Fresno State|
|Scott Isphording||1st year Offensive Coordinator, QBs||9th Ohio season, 4 years Toledo, EMU 2004-2008, Offensive Coordinator 2 years at EMU|
|Allen Rudolph||1st year Co-Offensive Coordinator, O-Line||25 seasons, 3rd at Ohio. Three seasons CFL O-line coach, Two Grey Cup appearances.|
|Dwayne Dixon||Wide receivers||15th Ohio season, multiple former players with pro experience: Taylor Price, LaVon Brazill, Phil Bates, Donte Foster, Papi White|
|De'Angelo Smith||Cornerbacks||5th Ohio season, 3 years Michigan State. 2009 NFL Draft, selected 5th round, Dallas Cowboys,|
And while first year offensive coorinator Scott Isphording and co-offensive coordinator Allen Rudolph are new to their roles, they should be able to adapt in short order The coaches are intimately familiar with the Bobcat offense with over ten years combined experience at Ohio and, given the offensive success under Albin, I would not expect the playbook or gameday call sheet to change radically in the near future.
And Isphording has some experience with the gameday mechanics of running the offensive show, as he was Eastern Michigan’s offensive coordinator for two seasons before coming to Ohio.
Opportunity for some young coaches to shine
The coaching change and potential of Ohio’s current roster presents some real opportunities for young Ohio coaches to have a big impact on the 2021 season. Here are some of the storylines for 2021.
Nate Faanes, Special Teams Coordinator, Linebackers
The young coach with perhaps the biggest opportunity based on his responsibilities is Nate Faanes, who enters his third season as assistant coach after serving a few years as an Ohio graduate assistant.
Lately, the difference between the MAC teams that make it to Detroit in December for a championship game and those that don’t comes down to a handful of points. Western Michigan finished second in the MAC West the last two seasons after losing its final game of the season by three points. Ohio was out of the MAC East race in 2019 by losing three MAC games by a combined nine points.
What Faanes and special team assistants like De’Angelo Smith and Brian Metz (also TE coach) can produce may go a long way in ensuring close games go Ohio’s way.
With significant quality depth at LB and DB and returners like All-MAC RB De’Montre Tuggle and WR Isiah Cox, the Bobcats have the talent to be great on core special teams.
Establishing specialists at kicker and punter may be the key task of the offseason. Ohio broke in two new specialists last year to mixed results, based on a limited sample size: 2-6 on field goals and 36.9-yard average on 13 punts. The Bobcats brought in competition via the transfer portal for both positions and improvement here would go a long way in close games.
Faanes is also in charge of the linebacker group, who we identified in our season preview as one of the Bobcats deepest, most talented units, but also its most inexperienced. With the loss of pillar MLB Jared Dorsa to graduation and a recent injury to his most experienced returning LB Keye Thompson, how fast Faanes is able to bring these young ‘Cats along will have a big impact on the overall success of the defense.
The same could be said for 4th-year defensive tackles coach Tremayne Scott, who also has a group that is, on the whole, young but deep and talented.
Tyler Tettleton, Passing Game Coordinator, Running Backs
Tettleton returns to Ohio, assuming some of Albin’s previous duties, and bringing a unique credibility and experience to Athens that could be an important piece in getting that first MAC championship since 1968.
Tettleton should be able to make an immediate connection with the current players. As a former Bobcat star holding multiple school records, Tettleton should have instant credibility with the players because they know “he has walked in their shoes” and understands what it takes to perform at the MAC’s highest level as an Ohio player because he has done just that.
With a connection established, players will be ready to hear what Tettleton has to say.
And having worked with some of the best in the business at the college level, Tettleton should have plenty to say about the passing game side of the playbook and be able to share with his players some of the best practices and techniques of elite student athletes.
For instance, working as a graduate assistant with the Oklahoma Sooners for three years, Tettleton was part of a team that went 34-6, making the playoffs in 2017, and finishing with coaching poll rankings in the top five for three straight seasons.
There are some offensive similarities between Oklahoma and Ohio so Tettleton may have some wrinkles he can bring to the Bobcats from Oklahoma as the passing game coordinator.
Finally, Tettleton saw some of the best college players in action at Oklahoma up close and can share what he learned from those players with the Bobcats; for instance, in the passing game, Tettleton saw two Heisman Trophy winning QBs in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who were back-to-back number one overall draft picks in the NFL in 2018 and 2019.
In charge of Ohio running backs, Tettleton knows how very good ones operate, having worked with two at Oklahoma who were selected in the 2017 NFL draft: RB Joe Mixon (2nd round) and RB Samaje Perine (4th round).
We’ll get our first look at what these young coaches were able to accomplish this offseason when the Bobcats open the season on September 4, 2021 vs Syracuse.