Frank Solich stood on the 35-yard line Monday inside Walter Fieldhouse. To his left stood Tim Albin, his offensive coordinator.
But for the first time since Solich took over at Ohio more than 14 years ago, he only had one long-term coordinator standing by his side. Albin is still around, but the missing face in the first two days of Ohio’s spring football camp is former defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow.
Burrow’s retirement in January signaled the end of a defensive era in Ohio football. As he cleaned his office out, he prepped it for his replacement, the first changing of the defensive guard since 2005.
He didn’t leave the program in bad hands by any stretch. New defensive coordinator Ron Collins knows what he’s doing; he’s getting to work in his first week on the job.
“It’s fun,” Collins said. “I enjoy overseeing everything. The biggest thing is that I have a great group of guys to work with, so that’s been good. It’s been fun to dive into this.”
This isn’t new to Collins. He isn’t a first-time defensive coordinator. Collins was a graduate assistant under Burrow at Iowa State in 1987, then went on to become the defensive coordinator at Boise State from 2002-2005 and at Colorado from 2006-2010.
It’s different for the Bobcats, sure. It’s the first time any member of Ohio’s football roster has gone through a coordinator change.
The good news? Collins has been on the Ohio staff since 2011, and the transition from Burrow to Collins has been a smooth one.
“We’ve got the same crew that’s in the defensive room, and it just shows we’ve been very consistent in what we’re doing,” Collins said. “Our verbiage, our language is all the same. Everybody’s on the same page.”
The only thing that hasn’t been smooth has been the office switch. Collins, smiling after Wednesday’s helmets-only practice, joked about Burrow’ old office, which took some time to be cleaned out after 14 years.
“It took a while,” Collins said. “He took a long time to clean out. But Jimmy Burrow is welcome back here. He was here for so long. Great mentor, great friend, it’s just strange not having him out here.”
But, Collins didn’t mind. Burrow is moved out, retired and ready to start a new chapter. Collins has a new office, and Ohio has a new defensive coordinator.
News, notes and observations
- Quarterback Kurtis Rourke, an early enrollee and the brother of starter Nathan, has a lot of zip on the ball. He seems to throw the ball with accuracy, too. Don’t be surprised if he pushes Joe Mischler for second-team reps.
- Julian Ross hasn’t participated in either of the Bobcats first two practices.
- Ohio’s special teams hasn’t done much so far, but it’ll be one of the strongest units in the country again this season. The kicker, long snapper, holder and punter are all back. That makes a difference in the fall.
- Solich expects a wide-open running back competition, especially with the departure of bellcow backs Maleek Irons and A.J. Ouellette, who graduated. O’Shaan Allison and Jake Neatherton look like he’ll be willing to step up and make plays in the backfield.
- “We’re talking about a lot of pretty good running backs,” Solich said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out for those guys.”
- The offensive line will replace the two Joes — Anderson and Lowery — and that competition is also in flux. The line will also replace Bart Miller, who took the offensive line coaching job at Wyoming after one year in Athens. Allen Rudolph was named the new offensive line coach for Ohio, the program’s third in the last three seasons.