Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WHEN IT COMES TO URBAN MEYER, BRAXTON MILLER IS HELEN OF TROY

Braxton Miller
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — During Urban Meyer's press conference on Monday evening in Columbus to announce his hiring as the new head football coach at Ohio State, I was patiently awaiting the old guy from the eHarmony commercials to come popping his head out from behind the small curtain on the right side of the stage.

Seriously, Neil Clark Warren — said "old guy" and founder of the aforementioned online dating site — totally missed out on a golden opportunity Monday evening inside the Fawcett Center because when Meyer was asked about his new (match) quarterback Braxton Miller, the coach's face lit up like a man who had truly found his soul mate.

"I just met Braxton and I wanted to meet with Braxton, that was very important," Meyer smiled. "With all due respect to everyone in this room, that was highlight of my day, not this (press conference). It was sitting there shaking hands with that good-looking quarterback with a nice smile. A very humble player."

It truly is a match made in heaven. Coaches of Meyer's stock base their lives on quarterbacks the way a man does with a great woman. It makes them better, more fulfilled. It gives their life meaning.

Sure, Meyer has had some pretty nice dancing partners in his collegiate coaching career. He began with Josh Harris at Bowling Green, who led the Falcons to a couple of Top 25 finishes and became just the second quarterback in FBS history to ever pass and rush for 40 touchdowns in a career.

Then Meyer had Alex Smith at the University of Utah. Smith and Meyer collaborated for 22 wins in 24 games, a BCS bowl victory, as well as nearly 5,200 yards passing and 47 touchdowns (to only eight interceptions), to go along with 1,072 yards rushing and another 15 scores.

Smith would go on to become the first overall selection in the 2005 NFL draft.

After his days with Smith, Meyer hooked up with Tim Tebow at Florida. The two went on to win a Heisman Trophy and two national championships in four years together. Tebow threw for more than 9,200 yards and 88 touchdowns with Meyer (to only 15 interceptions), as well as nearly 3,000 yards rushing and another 57 visits to pay dirt.

Those quarterbacks were great matches for Meyer. He used what they had to offer and made them better. 

But Miller is Meyer's dream match. He's not the girl next door ... he's Helen of Troy. Meyer recognizes the potential, the God-given abilities, the prospects for greatness Miller possesses.

That's why he was glowing whenever the young signal caller's name came up on Monday. 

"I watched him play throughout the year, I've watched him compete in the big game and to say that I'm 'excited' to coach him, I'm not using the right adjective ... I think you get it, right?"

Meyer paused, winked and with a blush and a grin uttered, "I'm very excited."

The true freshman Miller didn't become the starter until the fourth game of the season, but still managed to total 1,692 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Buckeyes, including team-highs in rushing yards and touchdowns.

And that was with a rookie head coach, an anemic pass protection and offensive play-calling reminiscent of a peewee team — predictable and elementary.

Meyer is antonymous with the words "predictable" and "elementary."

Meyer knows how to develop quarterbacks. He knows how to put them in situations that showcases their talent. And he's done so with a bunch of girls next door.

Now he has his dream girl (in a football manner of speaking) ... and he plans to show her off.

"We've been blessed to have some great quarterbacks," Meyer said. "And I'm really thinking (Miller) can be ... 

He paused again ...

"Wow, I'm putting a lot of pressure on this cat already," Meyer smiled. "He's special."

Hey Warren, you can cue the eHarmony music any time now.