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Tony Alford keeps stacking up wins, enhancing resumé at Ohio State

Tony Alford-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford is continuing to enhance his resumé. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

Tony Alford keeps stacking up wins, enhancing resumé at Ohio State

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and Tony Alford? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

Eventually there will be an athletic director who makes the right decision and hires Tony Alford to run his own program.

Until then, Ohio State is more than happy to keep him around and continue reaping the benefits with one of the most accomplished position coaches in the country working with running backs. And Alford also doesn’t need to be in a hurry to leave since he’s already well compensated, still competing for championships and has a unit of tailbacks that is now loaded up with potential stars for the foreseeable future.

Alford’s relationships with Evan Pryor and TreVeyon Henderson were certainly a major factor in their decisions to offer commitments to Ohio State over the last couple weeks, and there’s no question that he would love to see their development all the way through in Columbus. But as both of those players are already well aware given their recruiting rankings and potential as future pros down the road, college football is a business — and those latest entries on Alford’s resumé are only going to enhance his chances of getting a long-awaited opportunity to move into a head-coaching role at some point.

Quite frankly, it’s mildly surprising that it hasn’t happened for him already as his name has come up around the country in at least three different hiring cycles just since he was hired at Ohio State. In particular, his alma mater might come to regret the fact that it has twice had a shot to bring Alford back to Colorado State to try to restore relevance to a program that should be at least be more competitive in its rivalry game and in the Mountain West Conference race.

The Rams wound up going a different direction this offseason, though, and the debate over Alford usually winds up focusing on the fact that he’s not been a coordinator for the Buckeyes. Maybe that will continue to be a hurdle for him, even though it overlooks how collaborative the process is for Ohio State, how successful own position groups have been and the big-picture education he received from a mentor like Urban Meyer.

Tony Alford-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford is thriving as a recruiter. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

But Alford is now coming off a season where he helped produce the first 2,000-yard back in school history, which is quite a mouthful given Ohio State’s rich tradition at the position. He’s worked with one of the most productive rushers in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott, continued to play a key role offensive under Ryan Day and is again flashing his skills as a recruiter.

Strangely, it’s a couple misfires last year on the trail that produced really the first criticism of his work with the Buckeyes, which felt odd in the midst of what he was doing with J.K. Dobbins on his current roster. But on top of that, he hadn’t suddenly forgot how to recruit and would have even more to sell to guys like Pryor, Henderson or Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon because of what happened last year.

“First of all, everybody has got an opinion,” Alford said on Birminology this week. “We signed up for this. Nobody makes us do this job. And with that comes criticism. Sometimes there are accolades that come with it, sometimes there’s not and you deal with it accordingly. But there’s an understanding that people I don’t know don’t define who I am. They don’t define how I feel about me.

“You just go do the best you can every single day. … For me as a coach, you just go do the best job you can do every day. If something doesn’t work, you go back to the drawing board and figure out where it went off the rails and how you fix it.”

The Buckeyes are far from broken, and the running backs aren’t going to slow down under Tony Alford anytime soon.

Exactly how long he’ll be at Ohio State to keep it rolling is probably going to be up to athletic directors elsewhere. But Alford doesn’t have to be in a rush himself, because he’s both earned the right to be choosy and to stay with the Buckeyes as long as he wants.

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Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.