COLUMBUS, Ohio — Greg Schiano is constantly moving on the Ohio State practice field.
He might start a period working with the linebackers, and by the end of it he’s jumped into a drill with the cornerbacks. Maybe he’ll swing by for a quick stop with his old unit and talk technique with the safeties, then shift gears completely by peeling off to get some hands-on reps with the defensive ends.
One of the perks of the NCAA’s decision to allow football programs to add a 10th coach has been balancing the numbers on the staff between offense and defense. And for the Buckeyes, that has freed up Schiano from being responsible for just one unit during a workout. Now he’s actively involved with all of them.
Just don’t call him a floater.
“It’s not floating,” Schiano said with a smile. “That just kind of sounds like you just walk around. … I can go help whatever position is needed. I’m kind of the roamer. Whatever is needed, I’m kind of the spare.”
Schiano was already a coordinator for Ohio State, but he previously was responsible for the safeties on a day-to-day basis in meetings and on the practice field. Now that the Buckeyes have brought in Alex Grinch from Washington State to handle safeties and work as a co-coordinator, Schiano essentially is serving as a sort of head coach of the defense.
Considering his background leading entire programs while blending that with his success as a defensive assistant, the Buckeyes may have concocted the ideal role to take advantage of his skills.
“This allows me to have a better understanding of where our guys are with the comfort level of things, different techniques,” Schiano said. “Hopefully, it should have an effect on how you call it. Because if you know guys aren’t real comfortable with a technique, you wait until they get comfortable. Not that you couldn’t do that before, but when you actually see it with your own eyes, sometimes it helps.
“There are always repercussions that you don’t see, and the other thing it allows me to do is I get to jump around from meeting room to meeting room. I like to be able to see everything.”
Of course, there always is plenty to watch on the practice field, particularly this time of year as Ohio State tries to build depth and settle some position battles. And with Schiano providing another set of eyes, the Buckeyes might get a boost from a personnel standpoint as they weigh their options.
The Buckeyes need three new starting linebackers, for example, and that was a unit that seemed to struggle last year to nail down the right rotation until late in the season. How much can Schiano having more influence on that group help Billy Davis? That might be up for debate, but surely it won’t hurt.
“There are a lot of good reasons to have a 10th assistant coach, safety being the first,” Schiano said. “But it kind of evens it out, because usually there are five on offense and four on defense. Now it’s five and five, and that’s a good thing.
“There are a lot of positives to it.”