By Tim May
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer plunged forward Wednesday with his plans for the future — despite an NCAA ruling on Tuesday that the Buckeyes will be banned from the postseason in 2012 — when he named Everett Withers and Mike Vrabel to his growing coaching staff.
“It doesn’t change anything,” Meyer told The Dispatch of additional sanctions for rules violations under former coach Jim Tressel. “We’re going full speed ahead, we have a mission and we’re going to let nothing get in the way of the mission.”
Toward that end came the hiring of Withers, the interim coach at North Carolina, which also has been rocked by an NCAA investigation. Meyer named him assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator.
Withers, in his 24th season, was a career assistant coach until Butch Davis was fired in July. The Tar Heels went 7-5 this season and will play Missouri on Monday in the Independence Bowl.
“Everett is extremely well-respected across the country,” Meyer said in a statement. “I’ve known about him for a number of years and followed his progress as a college and NFL assistant coach.”
Meyer said Withers and this season’s coach, Luke Fickell, will work as co-coordinators, with Fickell calling the plays.
“[Withers] will be a great fit for this staff, and I think he and Luke are going to work well together,” Meyer said.
As for Vrabel, Meyer had grown fascinated with his abilities. Despite being a first-year assistant coach, Vrabel, a three-time Super Bowl winner as a defensive end with the New England Patriots, had been included in the recruiting staff the past three weeks under Meyer, who isn’t taking over fully until after the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2 against Florida.
“I had heard such great things about Mike Vrabel as a player, but the key thing for me was I wanted to talk football with him,” Meyer said. “I wanted to see him recruit, and I wanted to meet his family.”
Also returning from this season’s staff will be defensive backs coach Taver Johnson and receivers coach Stan Drayton, who will move to running backs coach. Meyer announced earlier that Tom Herman will take over as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, positions he currently is serving for Iowa State. He will join the Buckeyes after the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 30.
That leaves openings for an offensive line coach, receivers coach and possibly a tight ends coach. Meyer plans to announce his full staff on Jan. 3.