If Tom Herman is Ohio State's future head coach, perhaps Kenny Guiton is the Buckeyes' future offensive coordinator.
Guiton, who played quarterback at OSU from 2009-13, has been a graduate assistant at Houston under Herman since Urban Meyer's former OC took the job after the 2014 season. The 24-year-old Houston native, who's entering his second season helping lead the Cougars' wide receivers, has dreams of being an offensive coordinator (and, maybe, a head coach) one day.
The beloved former Ohio State backup QB got into the coaching game shortly after he left Columbus. Guiton had a brief stint at a Buffalo Bills' mini-camp and spent a season with the L.A. Kiss of the Arena Football League following his departure from Meyer's program.
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— Sam Khan Jr. (@skhanjr) April 9, 2016
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— Sam Khan Jr. (@skhanjr)
— Sam Khan Jr. (@skhanjr) April 9, 2016
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We recently talked with Guiton about his transition into coaching, what it's like working for a rising star in Herman, the possibility of a Houston-Ohio State College Football Playoff meeting and more.
College Spun: Was it tough giving up on your playing career?
Kenny Guiton: Yes, it was. But man, I’m not going to lie to you. I came to the realization that my playing career was not going to be that long. I had came to the realization that I was a backup in college and I knew that I (had) a far shot as far as making it to the next level. I’m gonna get my shot and then I have other things to fall back on as well.
CS: You obviously played for Herman at Ohio State. How'd you link up with him for the graduate assistant position at Houston?
KG: I actually saw him at the national championship game (in 2015, when Ohio State beat Oregon). I went to the (team) hotel before the game to say good luck to the boys and to the team. By that time, it had been announced that he would be going to the University of Houston. He knows I’m from Houston and so, when I saw him, he was like, ‘Hey man, you gonna give me a call in this next week?’ And I’m like, ‘heck yeah.’ So I said I’ll be calling you and when I called him, he told me to come meet the coaches and from then on, I was in, full on ready to go.
CS: Was becoming a graduate assistant at Ohio State something you thought about?
KG: I talked about it, I talked about it. I never really had a chance to sit down and explore all my options or anything, but yes, it came up at times. It was an idea.
CS: You were a quarterback, what's it like coaching wide receivers?
KG: Man, I love it. I love it. Being a player, you don’t really spend as many hours on ball as you do as a coach. So, having wide receivers, it’s different. It’s a bigger room, more guys and everything, different personalities from a quarterback room and everything. It’s a lot of fun man, it’s a lot of fun. Most of the time you’re the guys on the team that do the most running. But it’s fun. You want to be that guy that leads the group.
CS: Speaking of wide receivers, one of your former teammates, Braxton Miller, is now a wideout for the Houston Texans. Have you guys talked at all since that happened?
KG: Yeah, definitely man. I’m in a group chat with him and like 20 of my other guys from O-State. I definitely had to hit him up and say congrats to him, now he’s coming to my city. I went up to his (city) for college and now he’s coming down to mine. And he’s wearing (my college number) 13, so I had to talk to him about that. But man, he’s so focused right now, I let him have his time to focus up. But yeah, our group chat, we talked a little bit and we talk personally (too). He’s telling me how training camp is going and soon we have to link up.
CS: When you were at Ohio State with Braxton, everyone always said you were going to be a head coach. Has the transition into coaching been smooth for you?
KG: Definitely, man. It’s been everything I thought it’d be. In one year I’ve grown so much, matured so much. I can’t wait to see how it goes from here.
You kind of have to change your mindset. You’re not a player anymore so that’s the one adjustment I had to make. I’m not a player anymore so let’s go out and be a coach, a guy that can lead.
CS: It's early and you're still really young, but is becoming a head coach at some point the goal?
KG: I definitely wouldn’t mind being a head coach one day. Right now, I want to be a positional coach. That’s no secret or anything. My goal one day is to be an offensive coordinator. Right now I feel like if I become an offensive coordinator, I could so some things to excel and show programs around the country that I’m capable of being a head coach. But that’s so far down the road. My main objective is if I can get a position job, maybe one day become an OC and from there we’ll see.
CS: Is your graduate assistant position a two-year stint?
KG: I don’t want to say. I don’t want to put anything on record saying I’m only here for a year or two or anything. I’m all-in with Herman man. I love that guy. I love what he does in this program and I want to stick with him as long as I need to, whether it’s a positional job or whatever I need to do. I definitely want to be a positional coach with him but I don’t know a timetable. I just want to have fun with it and roll with it and see what comes.
CS: I saw Herman called Houston a kind of "Ohio State South." Do you notice a bunch of similarities between how he runs the program and how Coach Meyer did when you were at Ohio State?
KG: Definitely, definitely. There’s big similarities in everything. Coach Herman knows what works and what doesn’t. He’s seen it and he was a part of it (at Ohio State). I love that he’s bringing that mentality to Houston. When I was in high school, if (Houston) had that mentality, I would’ve been here. I’m not knocking anybody in the past, I don’t want to make it seem like that at all. But he’s making it seem as if - or not seem as if, it is - a powerhouse program and it can definitely be that being in Houston, Texas, one of the best cities for high school football.
CS: When you were growing up, did you kind of view Houston as a program that had the potential to be what you guys are turning it into now?
KG: Man, I definitely thought that all my life. I kind of looked at Houston as a second-tier program. I wish that, you know, this was happening back then and they could keep more guys home because I see it as a Miami Hurricanes’ type thing, like what they did back in the day. If we can get some big-time recruits staying in Houston, we can have something on that level.
CS: What's it like working under Herman after playing for him at Ohio State. Has your relationship evolved?
KG: It was a great relationship (at Ohio State). I don’t want to make it seem like our relationship in those days was different. But we have a great relationship now. He’s always asking questions, asking what we can do. I can just see that that relationship that we had at Ohio State, it got us to where we are now. I love it, man. I love every bit of it.
CS: So both Houston and Ohio State are going to start the season with College Football Playoff expectations. Would you want to face OSU or would that be uncomfortable?
Ahhh, I’ll play whoever they put on the schedule, whoever comes up to play. But I would love to play them. That’s all I’ll say on that one.
This past season, with the bowl game, there was almost a chance to play them. So I was thinking, hey, that’d be fun. It’d be a lot of fun and there are a lot of similarities between the two teams, so it’d be fun. I’ll put it like that.
Houston is set to open its 2016 season Sept. 3 against Oklahoma at NRG Stadium. The game is scheduled to kick off at 12 p.m. E.T. on ABC.