Under coach Urban Meyer, the Ohio State football team has yet to lose to Michigan, but a recent big-time move on the Wolverines’ coaching staff could inflict some uneasiness into Buckeye fans.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges, the same coach who helped the Michigan offense put up 41 points against Ohio State in November, was out of a job Wednesday morning. By nightfall, however, his replacement was already announced.
That replacement is former Alabama offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier, who will become one of the highest-paid coordinators in college football.
While the details of his hiring are still a bit cloudy, rumors are swirling that Alabama head coach Nick Saban was pushing out Nussmeier in order to bring in his new buddy, Lane Kiffin, to take the reigns of the Alabama offense.
In any case, this somewhat-shocking hire by the Wolverines should motivate OSU players and fans.
Even with the aforementioned Borges at the helm, the Wolverine offense torched the Buckeyes’ defense and was even a single play away from winning The Game. But under control of Nussmeier and a revamped pro-style offense more suitable to Michigan’s personnel coming along with him, the Michigan offense could certainly take leaps and bounds forward.
If OSU wants to continue its dominance against Michigan, the defense will have to at least match the improvement of the Michigan offense.
In hiring Nussmeier, Michigan might have started a domino effect that will definitely have an impact in Columbus. Should Borges have stayed, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell’s job might have been safe. Now, however, Michigan has challenged OSU even further to resurrect the formerly fantastic “Silver Bullet” defense.
If the Buckeyes stand pat, meaning Fickell is retained and the entire defensive outfit continues its less-than-stellar production, OSU will certainly have taken a step backward while Michigan has taken a step forward. That’s something no one involved with OSU football would be content seeing.
Be it the firing of Fickell, a change in scheme, or just an overall closer examination of certain players, something needs to change defensively for OSU. Michigan made its move and is challenging the Buckeyes to answer with a counterattack.
If the Buckeyes don’t take measures to improve their defense, a loss to Michigan next season in Columbus will be no one’s fault but their own.
A word to athletic director Gene Smith and Meyer, in this century-long chess match between OSU and Michigan: it’s your move.