Seriously, was anybody surprised when they turned on Sportscenter Monday morning? One of the worst-kept secrets in the history of sports became official this week when Urban Meyer was officially introduced as head football coach at The Ohio State University. In the week leading up to The Game, rumors surfaced of a pending offer from the university but Meyer repeatedly denied the reports, saying that no offer had been made and no deal had been reached. Sure, dude. Whatever. We knew you were coming to Ohio State a week after Jim Tressel resigned and you took the opportunity to publicly admit that coaching the Buckeyes would be your dream job. It was just a matter of time.
Since the deal was made official, Coach Meyer (I love calling him that) has been subjected to many attacks in the media over his decision to return to coaching after leaving Florida in the middle of his contract to address some health issues and spend more time with his family. At the time of his departure he made it seem like he was done with coaching forever, and I believe most of the country sympathized with him and felt like he had his priorities just right. A vocal minority, however, accused him of quitting on his team. They questioned his integrity and suggested that his resignation had more to do with the way his Gators were performing in the post-Tebow era than his desire to focus on his health and loved ones. These same people issue warnings to the Buckeye Nation: he fled at the first sign of adversity in Florida, so what is to stop him from doing it again? I think these accusations are terribly unfair, especially considering his hospitalization in Gainesville following the Gators’ loss to Alabama in the 2009 SEC championship game. Something like that would cause any one of us to take a step back and reexamine our priorities. I believe he did what he thought was right at the time. We can speculate all day, but only Coach Meyer knows for sure.
So here we are in 2011. For a full year, Urban Meyer has gotten to play spectator and commentator while enjoying more time with his family. He’s finally healthy and claims to have discovered ways to create balance in his life. He’s traveled around the country adding insight and perspective to some of the biggest games and biggest stories in college football. He didn’t plan on missing coaching so much. In fact, he admitted that he began to get the bug again only two months after announcing his retirement. He was determined to stay put, however, and concentrate on other things. That is, until that fateful day this past summer when a coaching vacancy opened up in his home state. Not only that, it was at the same university he grew up cheering for. It was the coaching home to his idol, Woody Hayes. It was the same university that gave him his first coaching job as an assistant to Woody’s successor, Earle Bruce. The man was born a Buckeye. He’ll always be a Buckeye. This was his dream job, and he has said many times that it was the only job that would have pulled him out of retirement.
Now that he’s settled in Columbus, let’s examine what he’s getting himself into. First, the NCAA Committee on Infractions has yet to rule on Ohio State’s past sins, but many feel like sanctions are coming in the form of scholarship reductions and some kind of probation. Ok, fine. Whatever. We’ll deal with that as it comes. Second, the Buckeyes are coming off their worst season since 1999 and need some serious fixing, especially on offense. They were tough to watch, even at their best. I started recording the games so I could fast-forward through the crap. At one point during the game against Michigan State I swore I would vomit all over our new sofas if I had to watch Braxton Miller throw one more wobbly, underthrown pass. I’ve seen better balls thrown during our ward Turkey Bowls on Thanksgiving. The reality is that on a team with only SEVEN seniors, youth and inexperience are going to cost you on both sides of the ball and limit your ability to be consistent. On the bright side, the Buckeyes will be returning pretty much everybody, and have the major pieces in place to easily transition into Urban Meyer’s intense, wide-open offense. Gone are the days of Tressel’s “HB Dive. HB Sprint. Repeat” offense.
What else does Coach Meyer bring to Columbus besides a new offense? He brings a record of 104-23 over ten seasons at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. He has two national championship rings and a perfect record in BCS bowl games. He has an unparalleled ability to get the most out of his athletes and put them in the best situations to succeed. He brings a little flash to a conference dominated by conservative bread-n-butter coaching, and an intensity and enthusiasm not seen at OSU since Woody Hayes himself. He can recruit anywhere. In fact, the day after his signing, Adolphus Washington (five-star DE) and Riqcuan Southward (four-star WR) de-committed from Southeast schools to sign with the Buckeyes. Without a doubt, Urban Meyer faces many challenges in the situation that he has walked into. He must fix a program that many think is broken. And he accepts the position with the understanding that he is expected to win now while doing it. The Buckeye Nation is hopeful, and welcomes their prodigal son with open arms. GO BUCKS!
IN LOVING MEMORY OF COACH JIM TRESSEL. LONG LIVE THE VEST.