Monday, November 28, 2011


Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer
(AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)
COLUMBUS — It's officially official.

All the rumors, speculation and optimism surrounding the situation had come full circle as Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer entered his introductory press conference at the Fawcett Center on Monday evening.

With the ink on his six-year, $24 million contract still drying, there was a certain ora that gathered in the room when Meyer strolled in to take the stage as the face of Buckeye Nation. Sporting a smooth Buckeye tie and speaking with conviction and confidence, Meyer assured the college football world that Ohio State is back.

"Our objective is simple," he said. "To make the state of Ohio proud, recruit student-athletes who win in the classroom and win on the field. I'm going to go about assembling the best coaching staff in college football and our goal is to compete and win Big Ten championships."

But, as Meyer enters into one of the most glamourous and more scrutinized programs in the country, can he handle the Columbus scene? After stepping away from the University of Florida due to health and family reasons, Meyer believes he can balance his personal life while being under the bright lights that come with being the head coach at Ohio State. One of the largest knocks on Meyer is the concern over his ability to stay in one spot.

Buckeye fans aren't used to change. Take away former interim coach Luke Fickell and Ohio State has named only four men — Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce, John Cooper and Jim Tressel — head coach since 1951. This isn't a five-year job, but rather a life-long commitment.

And with the past 11 months of resignations and NCAA infractions, one would think Ohio State would be more concerned with player discipline. Yet, Meyer's past doesn't exactly scream program cleanliness. Under his watch, 30 Gators were arrested in Meyer's six seasons in Gainesville, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"Does that mean we had bad kids?" Meyer asked. "I'll fight that forever. No, absolutely not, we did not have bad guys. Did they make stupid mistakes? Yeah, I've made a few stupid mistakes. We're going to correct them. We're going to go really hard and try and recruit really good people to represent Ohio State. That does not mean we're going to give up on kids. So that's the kind of belief we have here."

But as we all know, winning cures all. And Meyer certainly knows how to win.

During stints at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, Meyer put together a 104-23 record, won two national championships, four conference championships and a 7-1 record in bowl games.

His unbelievable ability to recruit exceptionally athletic classes was also an obvious plus. There's no doubt Meyer can recruit his ass off. At Florida, Meyer produced a top-five class in four of his six seasons. He's recruited Heisman Trophy winners (Tim Tebow and Cam Newton), No. 1 overall NFL Draft picks (Newton and Alex Smith) and loads of pro talent.

There's no doubt Meyer will be a force in the recruiting world. But what has Buckeye fans most excited has to be the thought of Meyer paired with stellar true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. Even Meyer couldn't resist boasting over his new signal-caller saying meeting Miller on Monday was the highlight of his day.

"Sitting there shaking hands with that good-looking quarterback with a nice smile and a very humble player," he said.

"We've been blessed to have some great quarterbacks," Meyer said. "And I'm really thinking (Miller) can be — I'm putting a lot of pressure on this cat already — but he's special. What I've seen on film he's special."

There's a lot of excitement surrounding Ohio State football thanks to Meyer — considering only two days ago the Buckeyes lost to the hated Michigan Wolverines and finished a disappointing 6-6 season. But it's been a long time since Ohio State has had something to celebrate.

"He is, without a shadow of doubt, one of the premier leaders in football," Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said of his new hire. "It's represented in his record. But more importantly, it's represented in him, the man."

Meyer is one hell of a coach and you can't help but expect big things from the guy. It doesn't mean he comes without baggage, though. If Meyer wants to succeed at Ohio State, he must avoid the type of player misconduct that he experienced in Gainesville.

With Meyer's return to the Buckeye State, things are certainly looking up at the moment.

"It's great to be home," Meyer said. "And the same thing I told the players a little bit ago is that I realize those players didn't choose me. I chose them. So I chose to pack up and move the most precious things in my life, and that's my family, back home."

Let me be the first to say this, Urban.

Good choice.

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