Ed Warinner is a box of chocolates.
The recent years of his coaching career show that you don’t know what’s next for this immensely gifted line coach and play caller. However, chocolates of any kind are delicious. Things usually turn out sweet for Warinner.
Beyond the walls of The Ohio State University, the biggest curveball thrown by the trajectory of Warinner’s career is that it hasn’t led to a head coaching job. Army, which once employed Warinner as offensive coordinator, didn’t replace Rich Ellerson with Warinner a few years ago, instead opting for Jeff Monken. Kansas — where Warinner was offensive coordinator when the Jayhawks made and won the 2008 Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech — did not pick Warinner when David Beaty was available.
You’d think that an FBS athletic director would want Warinner to lead his (or her) football program, especially in light of the way another Urban Meyer disciple, Tom Herman, has flourished at the University of Houston. Yet, Warinner remains in Columbus — it’s everyone else’s loss, and the Buckeyes’ gain.
SportsBettingExperts.com has Ohio State and Alabama tied at the top of the leaderboard to win the 2017 College Football Playoff championship (+700 odds). Warinner isn’t the main reason the Buckeyes are such a betting choice, but he’s not exactly a peripheral reason, either. In order to realize how valuable Warinner is to Ohio State — and will be in the coming season — you merely need to take note of one simple fact.
You simply need to identify what changed when Warinner moved from the field to the press box at the end of the 2015 season.
Warinner’s move to the press box wasn’t merely a positional or angular shift; he gained more control over play calling. Meyer authorized this move after Ohio State’s offense — guided primarily by quarterback coach Tim Beck — stunk up the joint in a loss to Michigan State. The setback ruined Ohio State’s national title hopes and cast a pall over the regular season.
The Buckeyes still had a shot at the Rose Bowl, though, and The Game against the hated Michigan Wolverines still lay ahead. Therefore, Meyer elevated Warinner over Beck in an attempt to salvage what was left of the 2015 campaign.
In Ann Arbor against Jim Harbaugh’s defense and then in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame, Ohio State’s offense once again looked like the lethal and fearsome force which tore apart Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship Game), Alabama (Sugar Bowl playoff semifinals), and Oregon (title game) on the road to the first College Football Playoff national championship at the end of the 2014 season. Warinner’s imprint on the Buckeyes’ offense was unmistakable, and the tweaks Meyer has made on this year’s coaching staff have ensured that Warinner will continue to call plays from the press box in 2016.
All these details — not just the successes after the Michigan State loss, but the hiccups and stumbles before it — magnify Warinner’s centrality within the Ohio State program. You could say that any play caller should flourish with Ohio State’s level of talent, but Tim Beck wasn’t able to do so. Ed Warinner had to finish the job.
This is why Ohio State has as good a claim as any other team to favored status in the race for a 2016 College Football Playoff berth.