Big Ten: Urban Meyer to OSU

Buckeyes should be wary of cult of coach

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It was just a couple of weeks ago, as the sordid mess played out at Penn State and led to Joe Paterno's firing, that many of us questioned whether it was dangerous to have a coach who is bigger than the school. ESPN.com's own Ryan McGee wrote a thoughtful column about how the Jerry Sandusky case should end for good the culture of coach worship on college campuses. He was, and is still, right.

Less than a month later, Ohio State hired Urban Meyer as its new football coach. As Adam Rittenberg correctly pointed out Monday, Meyer has rock-star status and brings a new level of fame to the Buckeyes' sideline. The school had better be wary.

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
Kim Klement/US PresswireOhio State should be careful not to let Urban Meyer, or any coach, become bigger than the school.
The only reason Meyer is in Columbus, of course, is because of Jim Tressel's actions. Tressel was an icon who delivered a national championship, a string of Big Ten titles and repeated wins over rival Michigan. He became so powerful that he thought he could lie to his superiors and cover up an obvious NCAA violation as he chased more BCS glory. Even after Tressel's deception became clear, Ohio State's administration tried to hold onto him as long as it could. Who will ever forget school president E. Gordon Gee's infamous "I just hope he doesn't fire me" comment?

Meyer has never been accused of major NCAA violations, and there's no hint of scandal associated with him. Ohio State could scarcely had made a better hire or found a seemingly better fit for its style.

But Meyer does have some baggage. His time at Florida, though wildly successful on the field, was marred by several off-the-field incidents. The Orlando Sentinel reported that there were more than 31 arrests involving 25 Gators players from the summer of 2005 to early 2010. The arrest count made national news. Meyer addressed that during his news conference on Monday.

"I see numbers of arrests, and the numbers I see are exaggerated," he said. "I know what we've had to deal with. If we had one, that's too many. Our job as a coaching staff is to mentor, to discipline and to educate young people. And we've had a pretty good track record. We ran into some bumps in the road at the University of Florida.

"Does that mean we had bad kids? 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 to recruit really good people to represent Ohio State."

Maybe those incidents were overblown, and maybe Meyer doesn't have those issues in Columbus. But Ohio State obviously had some problems monitoring its players' activities off the field in the past couple of years, which led to two separate NCAA notices of allegations and some forthcoming sanctions. Athletic director Gene Smith insists those were isolated incidents and that the program has taken steps to tighten control of things. That has been the crux of the school's argument to the NCAA.

But what if the pattern at Florida repeats itself? Will Ohio State take steps to correct that, or will it bow to Meyer's judgment if he is winning Big Ten titles and beating Michigan like Tressel did?

Meyer was a larger-than-life figure in Gainesville, but in some ways he held Florida's program hostage by waffling over whether to retire in 2009 and 2010. He bristled at any perceived media criticism of his players or program.

Buckeyes fans have been understandably effusive in their praise of the Meyer hiring, and some of the questions at Monday's news conference bordered on fawning. Meyer is already being hailed as the savior of a program that has been mired in controversy for the past year.

He will likely win lots of games and do big things at Ohio State. The school had better just be wary of him getting too big.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Multiple times during his introductory news conference Monday, new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer talked about putting together the very best staff he can.

All coaches say that, of course. But Meyer has walked the walk before, leading a very talented staff at Florida that included, among others, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, Temple head coach Steve Addazio, Marshall head coach Doc Holliday and Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.

[+] EnlargeGene Smith and Urban Meyer
AP Photo/Terry GilliamGene Smith said Ohio State will pay for the type of staff Urban Meyer wants.
"In 2005 -- I know this is a little biased -- I think we put together the best coaching staff maybe in college football history," Meyer said. "I know that's a profound statement. But what those guys did, the recruits they brought in and the run that team went on, with the great players, the style of offense, defense and kicking game ... my goal is to find that kind of group of coaches again."

Bringing in that kind of all-star staff takes one thing above all else: money. And athletic director Gene Smith says Ohio State is willing to pony up.

"We'll put in place the resources necessary to attract the staff that Urban feels he needs," Smith said.

The Buckeyes haven't exactly been cheap in the past. Former coach Jim Tressel was making more than $3.5 million per year before his forced resignation. Meyer just signed a six-year deal with $4 million annually, plus many incentives. Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and defensive coordinator Jim Heacock were among the top-paid assistants in the Big Ten, each making $309,000.

But Tressel's staff was often mostly anonymous. And one of the gaps between the Big Ten and other leagues, especially the SEC, has been pay for assistant coaches. According to one recent study, the Big Ten ranked only fourth in assistant football coach compensation, behind the SEC, Big 12 and ACC.

Meanwhile, pay for some assistants in the Big Ten has spiked recently. Michigan is paying Mattison $750,000 a year. Illinois gave offensive coordinator Paul Petrino $525,000, while Wisconsin raised offensive coordinator Paul Chrysts's salary to more than $400,000.

Meyer is keeping current head coach Luke Fickell on staff, likely as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. You've got to figure that Fickell, who was making $775,000 to be the head coach, won't take much of a pay cut.

Meyer said he'll be looking for the right fit when hiring assistants and would love to have coaches with "any kind of Ohio background." However, that won't preclude him from hiring someone with no ties.

"The way I do it, if you're the best secondary coach in college football, I'm going to try to get you to come here coach at Ohio State," he said. "If you're the best offensive line coach, I'm going to do my very best to get you to come here."

Doing the very best means offering a highly-competitive salary. Ohio State is one of the richest athletic departments in the country, so it can afford to dive into this pool. And Smith says he will.

"If you look at Urban's term sheet, it's probably in the top five [among highest paid head coaches]," Smith said. "Two teams in our league have really jumped up [in assistant pay], and Michigan is one of them. So I have to change my thought process and my philosophy."

Urban Meyer seeks balance, success

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Before Urban Meyer signed his Ohio State contract, he got another one in the mail.

This contract was written on pink paper by his 21-year-old daughter Nicole, a volleyball player at Georgia Tech. In it, she listed all the things her father would have to do if he wanted to return to coaching football. It states that he must exercise at least every other day, eat three meals a day, make every effort to see Nicole and her sister, Gisela, play volleyball and limit the number of hours he spends on football.

Meyer pulled the pink contract out of his sports jacket during his introductory news conference Monday. Shelley Meyer said he has kept it with him, though she doesn't think he's actually signed it.

"At least he hasn't ripped it up and thrown it away," she said.

The concern about Meyer isn't whether he will be worth his six-year, $24 million (plus incentives) contract with the Buckeyes. This is not, in sports parlance, a home-run hire for the Buckeyes. It is a grand-slam-in-the-ninth-inning-to-win-the-World-Series hire. How many times does a school find a coach who boasts two national titles and four BCS bowl wins, who's a native of the state and fan of the program and who can start right away? Meyer is the perfect choice to lead Ohio State out of its yearlong misery and back to the top of the Big Ten, if not the country.

To read the rest of this story, click here.

Ohio State to learn NCAA fate soon

November, 28, 2011
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nearly lost in all the hoopla surrounding Ohio State's hiring of Urban Meyer was the fact that the school expects its NCAA ruling within the next two weeks.

The NCAA informed the Buckeyes in its second notice of allegations on Nov. 3 that the school would have to reappear before the committee on infractions in early December. Ohio State, in its response, asked to have that expedited to this week via teleconference. Athletic director Gene Smith told ESPN.com Monday night that Ohio State was informed that it would not, in fact, have to state its case before the committee again, either in person or over the phone. And Smith said NCAA officials said they planned to issue a final ruling in the next 10 to 14 days.

While it's always tough to figure out what the NCAA is thinking or will do, this obviously sounds like good news for the Buckeyes. If Ohio State doesn't have to defend itself before the infractions committee again, then it sure seems like the committee is satisfied with the school's response to the second notice of allegations. And the Buckeyes must hope the committee is satisfied with the self-imposed penalties, which include the loss of five total scholarships in the next three years, vacating all wins in the 2010 season and firing coach Jim Tressel, among other actions.

Smith remains confident that a bowl ban -- which could affect this year's team but more likely would impact Meyer's first season in 2012 -- isn't coming.

"Obviously, we can't speculate on what they will do," Smith said. "All we can do is look at precedence, look at cases. We looked at cases from January 2007 that were similar to us and looked at rulings relative to those. That's actually what drove us to imposing some of the sanctions that we ultimately came up with.

"When you look at all previous cases, there's no precedences [for bowl bans]. There were a couple of those more egregious than ours. And I'm hopeful we won't have that."

Meyer said he did his own research on the case and asked several questions of Smith and Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee during the interview process. He wouldn't have taken the job if he weren't assured that the NCAA won't cripple his program with harsh sanctions.

"I have great trust and faith in our athletic director and president," he said. "At the end of the day I asked the same question you did: 'Is there anything behind Door No. 2, No. 3, No. 4? I feel very confident and have great trust that there's not. We'll have to deal with the scholarship issue, and I have great trust that we will and we'll move forward."

Meyer gushes over Braxton Miller

November, 28, 2011
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- One thing we know about Urban Meyer is that he can win big with the right quarterback.

Meyer led Utah to an undefeated season and BCS bowl win behind Alex Smith. He won a national title at Florida with Chris Leak. And, of course, he's most closely associated with Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, who helped him claim another BCS national championship.

While Meyer likely will make many changes to the Ohio State offense, he's already got a potential star at quarterback waiting for him in freshman Braxton Miller. Having watched him mostly on tape this year, Meyer can't wait to get started working with Miller. The two met and talked Monday afternoon.

"I watched him play throughout the year," Meyer said. "I've watched him compete in the big game. And to tell you I'm excited to coach him, I'm not using the correct adjectives. And because there's mixed company around I'm not going to use the correct adjectives, how excited I am. So I think you get it, right? Really excited.

"We've been blessed to have some great quarterbacks. And I'm really thinking this guy 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."

Miller is a shoo-in to win Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. Taking over as the starter in Ohio State's fourth game, he passed for 997 yards and 11 touchdowns, with four interceptions and a 50 percent completion rate. What set him apart, however, was his running ability. He leads the Buckeyes with 695 rushing yards and seven rushing scores.

Miller accounted for 335 total yards and three touchdowns in the 40-34 loss at Michigan. He showed excellent poise as a true freshman quarterback, highlighted by his game-winning touchdown pass to beat Wisconsin.

He seems like a natural fit to run Meyer's spread offense, even if he's not built quite like Tebow.

"I like the way he throws," Meyer said. "I think he's a ridiculous athlete. But you can stop ridiculous athletes by loading up [the defense]. And I like his delivery.

"We'll have some great conversation throughout spring practice and after spring. But I'm just real excited. I think he could be special."
Urban Meyer talked Monday about assembling the best coaching staff in America at Ohio State.

He's off to a good start with Luke Fickell.

Fickell will remain Ohio State's head coach for the team's upcoming bowl game and then return to an assistant role on Meyer's staff. While Meyer didn't specify Fickell's future title, he said Fickell will have a significant role. I'm thinking assistant head coach and/or defensive coordinator.

Meyer said the two men and their wives had a lengthy dinner meeting, and Meyer and Fickell met for coffee before he asked Fickell to be a part of the staff.

"There's no doubt I wanted him to be a part of this team," Meyer said. "And he was very open, shook my hand with a big smile on his face."

Meyer called it "a very good moment for Ohio State."

Some will point out the awkwardness for Fickell and the players to see the head coach for the 2011 season return to an assistant role. But the positives outweigh the potential negatives here.

Fickell was an excellent assistant coach under Jim Tressel, on the field and especially on the recruiting trail, where Meyer wants to make a big splash locally and nationally. Fickell can sell Ohio State's program better than just about anyone, and he'll be a valuable asset to his new boss, both in keeping current commits on board for 2012 and in adding new members to the recruiting class.

He'll also help maintain Ohio State's standard of excellence on defense, the unit I believe will determine whether Meyer brings a national championship to Columbus.

Also, if Meyer indeed has changed his approach following his health scare, he'll need to relinquish some control and delegate responsibilities a bit better. Fickell has sat in the head coach's chair. He has handled many duties in a very stressful situation. If Meyer needs help or a sounding board, Fickell can fill the role.

"I know what kind of guy he is," Meyer said. "He's an Ohio guy. He's a Buckeye. I knew him from afar. I watched closely how he handled this situation. I thought he's a man's man. Obviously, he's everything you hope for Ohio State, former player."

It will be interesting to see who else Meyer names to his staff. But he made a good call by keeping Fickell.

Links: Questioning Meyer's commitment

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Mark Schlabach writes: At Ohio State, where there's no shortage of tradition and resources, Urban Meyer has all the pieces in place to build another winner. But will he stay anywhere long enough to build a true dynasty?

Hiring a coach who has had major success at another program can raise expectations to near-impossible heights, writes Ivan Maisel. Can Urban Meyer defy the odds at Ohio State?
It's official: Urban Meyer is Ohio State's head football coach.

The school announced Monday afternoon that Meyer has agreed to a six-year contract that will pay him a base salary of $4 million per year. Meyer's contract includes performance bonuses for the team's on-field performance -- including $250,000 for reaching the BCS National Championship Game -- as well as players' academic performance.

Luke Fickell will coach the Buckeyes in an upcoming bowl game and remain on Meyer's staff.

Here are some official statements:

President E. Gordon Gee: "In Urban Meyer we have found an exemplary person and remarkable coach to lead the University's football program into the future. As an alumnus, he understands and believes in the core academic mission of the University. As an Ohioan, he shares our common values and sense of purpose."

Meyer: "I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to return to Ohio State. This university and the state of Ohio have enormous meaning to me. My duty is to ensure that Ohio State's football program reflects and enhances the academic mission of the institution. I am part of it, I believe in it, and I will live it."

Here's a link to Meyer's contract, which goes into effect today through Jan. 31, 2018.

Some notes:
  • Meyer will receive a retention payment of $450,000 if he's still the coach on Jan. 31, 2014; he'll receive $750,000 if he's still the coach on Jan. 31, 2016; and he'll receive $1.2 million if he's still the coach at the end of the contract in 2018.
  • Meyer receives $50,000 for winning a Leaders division championship; he receives $100,000 plus an additional year on his contract if he wins the Big Ten championship; he receives $150,000 for reaching a BCS bowl game (not national title game).
  • Meyer receives a $1,200 monthly stipend to cover the expenses of two cars.
  • Meyer can use a private jet for recruiting visits 200 miles from Columbus. He also receives personal use of a private jet 35 hours per year of the contract.

Much more to come.
It's not official until 5:15 p.m. ET, but Ohio State's hiring of Urban Meyer as its football coach has not surprisingly been the top story around college football today.

Here's a collection of quotes and columns on Meyer and Ohio State:
  • ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit to The Columbus Dispatch: "I am beyond elated about this hire. [I] have always privately wondered what Urban Meyer would be like at Ohio State, just because of his Ohio ties, and because of his personality. He will recruit at a level that I think will be exciting to a lot of people in the Buckeye community, just how intense he is when it comes to recruiting. Talk about some wars between Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer, it’s going to be outstanding to see how that goes. That's because you know the first thing Urban Meyer is going to want is to own the state of Ohio in recruiting. He also will put together a staff that will be outstanding."
  • Michigan coach Brady Hoke: "I've known Urban, he's a good football coach, a good guy and I welcome him in. But it's still Michigan and Ohio and neither one of us is going to play the game."
  • Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce to The Associated Press: "Well, if he'd had a heart attack and his heart was bad, I'd be worried about that. I'm not worried that he was stressed out over the game of football because he was thinking too much and not doing some things [exercising] that would have kept him straight. I think he got everything back under control by sitting out a year. I think he missed football. And he's good at it."
  • CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel: "Urban Meyer to Ohio State is the perfect hire. It's Calipari-to-Kentucky perfect. The marriage of Urban Meyer to Ohio State is a game-changer for college football, a move that will propel Ohio State back to the top of the national heap with such velocity that it will pull along the rest of the Big Ten in its jet stream."
  • SI.com's Stewart Mandel: "One need only examine Meyer's past career stops to figure out how things will develop at Ohio State. Year 1 may be a bit of a struggle, as Ohio State players adjust to an entirely new staff and scheme. In Year 2 the Buckeyes will explode, contending for the Big Ten and national titles barring impending NCAA sanctions. All the while Meyer will be recruiting like a mad man -- conveniently, the NCAA recently repealed the ban on text messaging it originally imposed in part because of Meyer himself -- rubbing rival coaches the wrong way and making national headlines every time he says something remotely controversial at a press conference. But Meyer's biggest obstacle to success won't be Michigan or Wisconsin or any other Big Ten school. It won't be implementing his offense or overcoming forthcoming sanctions. It will be himself."
  • The Sporting News' Matt Hayes: "If you don’t think Meyer was preparing for this very moment, you’re the same guy who thinks Ohio State has institutional control. Now think again, Ohio State fans, about the Meyer hire. Are you getting the game’s best coach; the guy who turned around Bowling Green, who led the first non-BCS team (Utah) to a BCS bowl, who won two national championships in six seasons at Florida? Or the guy who left Gainesville with serious health issues, then came back because he couldn’t leave the game, then got out of Dodge when it was obvious the greatest player in college football history wasn’t around anymore?"
  • AOL FanHouse's David Whitley: "The burnout thing was real, even if Meyer refused to let his robot fašade down and show us the MRI images of his stomach. He should have left after his first 'retirement,' but the coaching demon was too strong. After the frazzled 2010, he realized he needed to fade away. But at his farewell news conference, Meyer left the door open to coaching again. The distinct impression was it was more a probability than a possibility. He never put a time frame on how long he would be gone. He never said he wouldn’t do TV work. He didn’t say Will Muschamp should beat LSU and Alabama in his first season. So where was the deception, much less the lies?"
  • LeBron James on Twitter (@KingJames): "So excited about Urban Meyer at OState!! He's going to be amazing. Put them Buckeyes right back to where they belong. Atop the Big 10"
  • CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman: "We'd sat in the meeting for some three hours and Urban Meyer didn't gush when any of the top 150 recruits' names came up. Well, at least not like he did when the name Braxton Miller was called out that day. About a dozen of us were seated around one of those long rectangular tables in a cramped room in Charlotte last February. ... The day before we had a three-hour production meeting where Meyer talked about, well, raved about having watched film on Braxton Miller. We'd gone thru ESPN's top 150 players one by one on that list and I recall Meyer, who always seems quite measured, didn't rave about any of them like he did when Miller's name came up. ... The room, which had more than its share of side conversations, went silent when Meyer spoke about what he saw in Miller. He even used the word "special" when describing the QB from Huber Heights, Ohio, who had been rated as the 80th best prospect in the class. Of course, Meyer's recruiting class ended up with another blue-chip quarterback, Jeff Driskel, who was a promising local QB while Miller had been long committed to the Buckeyes and Jim Tressel."
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz: "Urban Meyer just went from savior to Satan in Gainesville. Sorry, but did Florida fans really expect he was going to spend the rest of his life sitting in a climate-controlled studio and planting pansies? Welcome to reality, Gator fans. You’re apparently the last one to figure out that Meyer is no less disingenuous than any other college coach, and he might be worse."
Luke Fickell was placed in an extremely difficult position when Ohio State appointed him to take over for Jim Tressel on Memorial Day.

[+] EnlargeLuke Fickell
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireFirst-year head coach Luke Fickell had a tall order on his hands when he took over the Buckeyes program.
Becoming a first-time head coach is tough enough. Doing so three months before the season after a scandal at a place like Ohio State is even tougher. Inheriting a team without a proven quarterback, without a starting left tackle and a starting running back for five games, and without the team's only proven wide receiver for 10 games ... well, you get the point.

Still, few saw Ohio State going 6-6 this season, the Buckeyes' worst mark since 1999. Aside from a dramatic win against Wisconsin and a three-game win streak midway through Big Ten play, Ohio State had little to celebrate this fall.

Now with Urban Meyer expected to be introduced as Ohio State's next head coach later this afternoon, it's time to take a look at Fickell's short tenure in charge. There's a good chance Fickell leads the Buckeyes in their upcoming bowl game -- he reportedly could stay on Meyer's staff as an assistant -- but it's fair to take a snapshot of his performance in the lead role.

Like many, I was extremely impressed with the way Fickell handled himself in the media spotlight. He was honest and direct, and even showed a bit of emotion, like after Saturday's loss to Michigan. Perhaps it's because he hadn't been a head coach before, but Fickell really seemed to stay true to himself in these situations. He often talked about the importance of momentum -- getting it and then sustaining it -- and the difficulty to keep it this season. These qualities will help him when he gets a head-coaching opportunity -- and he will get one.

As a game coach, Fickell showed his inexperience at times. His teams often started slowly and fell behind. He coached conservatively -- not a surprise for a guy who apprenticed for Jim Tressel -- but it cost Ohio State at times. Ohio State clearly missed the influence of both Tressel and former assistant Darrell Hazell on offensive play-calling, as the offense really struggled until the breakout performance against Michigan. You didn't get the sense Fickell put his stamp on the program on game days.

Ohio State should have won more games than it did, but this was never a championship-caliber team, given the suspensions and Terrelle Pryor's departure.

So what grade should Fickell receive? I'd give him a C. And if I were an athletic director looking for a rising star, I'd put in a call to Fickell.

What grade would you give Fickell?
Ohio State fans have grumbled about the Buckeyes' offense for years. Too conservative. Too run-heavy. Not imaginative enough.

Those days are over as Urban Meyer is coming to Columbus. Meyer's offenses at Utah and Florida ranked in the top 20 nationally all but one year between 2004-09.

Colleague Todd McShay takes an in-depth look at what Meyer looks for with his offense and how the Ohio State roster fits his plan. McShay's conclusion: while it could take a bit of time for Meyer to get all his perfect pieces in place, he's hardly inheriting a bare cupboard.

McShay weighs in on all the position groups. Here are a few:
Quarterback: I think [Braxton] Miller is loaded with talent and he has the ideal physical skill set to excel in Meyer's system. He has a big, sturdy frame and still has room to add muscle. Miller has very good arm strength (check out his 54-yard TD strike against Michigan) and he's a more sudden athlete than former Buckeyes QB Terrelle Pryor.
Tight end: Assuming Jake Stoneburner returns for his senior season (which would be a wise choice, in my opinion), he could provide a good short-term solution at this position. Stoneburner isn't the ideal athlete for this role, but at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, he has proved capable of creating mismatches in the passing game and he has reliable hands. He also has solid blocking skills both in-line and in space, which will allow the Buckeyes to get creative with his launching point.
Running back/receiver: The Buckeyes have an obvious need for more speed and athleticism at running back and wide receiver, so expect the Buckeyes' next couple of recruiting classes to have a few highly regarded "athletes" at the top of the priority list. Ohio State does, however, have some intriguing young athletes in house that Meyer and his staff must quickly develop into playmakers. The most intriguing of the group is true freshman WR Evan Spencer, an ESPNU 150 recruit from the 2011 class. He flashed his talent at times during his freshman season but much more will be expected of him moving forward -- and if Spencer is willing to put in the work, he has a chance to become a focal point in Meyer's attack.
Click here to read McShay's entire piece on Meyer and the Ohio State offense.

Meyer hire adds intrigue to The Game

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Colleague Michael Rothstein from Wolverine Nation writes that Ohio State's hiring of Urban Meyer as coach adds intrigue to the annual rivalry with Michigan, especially since Meyer and Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison know each other well from their days at Florida.
If any coach in college football -- other than new New Mexico coach Bob Davie -- knows the intricacies of Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and how he calls a game, it is Meyer. Don't discount this -- especially so long as the 62-year-old Mattison stays at Michigan.
They were together at Florida for those national titles, and when Meyer was hired with the Gators, Mattison was the first man he called asking if he'd come with him.
"He was my right-hand man on key points during the game where the key decisions I had to make, personnel and coaching, he was the key guy I could talk to," Meyer said earlier this year. "Very knowledgable and an extremely high-character guy who works his tail off."
Click here to read Rothstein's full story.
Ohio State football is headquartered at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The Buckeyes play their home games at 411 Woody Hayes Drive.

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
Robert Mayer/US PresswireOhio State has never hired a coach with a resume as impressive as Urban Meyer's.
No name is more synonymous with Ohio State football than Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes, the Buckeyes' coach from 1951-78. He's a college football icon and Ohio State royalty. Hayes was bigger than the program.

But he didn't arrive that way, coming to Ohio State from Miami (Ohio). Ohio State's subsequent coaches -- Earle Bruce, John Cooper and Jim Tressel -- made similar, somewhat understated entrances, from Iowa State, Arizona State and Youngstown State, respectively. Tressel, like Hayes, achieved icon status at Ohio State, but only after he had been on the job for a while. And the buttoned-down, sweater-vested Tressel never truly became bigger than the program, at least not like Hayes.

Enter Urban Meyer, rock-star coach. Roll out the scarlet carpet. Ohio State has never seen anything quite like this.

Meyer, expected to be introduced as Ohio State's coach today at a news conference scheduled for 5:15 p.m. ET, comes to Columbus as one of the biggest names in college football. He has won two national championships and enjoyed tremendous success at his three previous coaching stops (Florida, Utah and Bowling Green). He doesn't come to Ohio State from another program, but from ESPN, where he has been on your TV screen throughout the college football season.

When Ohio State introduces Meyer as its next coach, no one is going to look at the podium and ask, "Who's this guy?"

Meyer likely will talk about coming home to Ohio, and to a program where he got his start in college coaching as a graduate assistant in 1986. He'll discuss the program's tradition and mention its status, until recently, as a powerhouse both in the Big Ten and nationally. He'll try to make it about Ohio State.

Not happening. Urban Mania is sweeping through Columbus, and Meyer will be the top story in college football during the first part of championship week. The spotlight will be on Meyer's decision to return to coaching, his health status and whether he was hypocritical for leaving Florida. Coaches rarely make the jump from one national powerhouse to another -- with a network TV gig in between -- but Meyer always has been on a faster track.

This is a big-time, big-money, big-splash hire for the Scarlet and Gray.

How will Ohio State react to a coach who's bigger than the program? Most fans will be and should be thrilled, especially after a subpar season and a nightmarish 11 months. But there could be some skeptics as well, unsure of the new coach with the championship rings and the good looks and the glitzy offense.

Buckeye Nation will agree on one thing: expectations for Meyer. They'll be sky-high.

Tressel had consistent success at Ohio State, but his program lacked flashiness of other elite ones around the country. I remember covering USC-Ohio State in 2009, and attending USC's walk-through at Ohio Stadium the day before the game. Hollywood had definitely come to flyover country.

Meyer might not be Hollywood, but he's in the neighborhood.

And it's not just Meyer who will increase Ohio State's Q score. Tressel assembled quite possibly the most anonymous staff of any national program. He had some good assistants, but you rarely heard much about them outside Columbus.

Just a hunch, but Meyer's staff will have a little more national appeal.

Meyer ultimately will be judged by what he does after he gets the Ohio State job. And he should be. The same held true for Hayes, Tressel and the others.

But unlike previous Buckeyes bosses, Meyer won't have to introduce himself to Ohio State. Everyone already knows who he is.

The spotlight is ready and the big show is coming. Brace yourself, Columbus.

Video: Urban Meyer heading home

November, 28, 2011
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Tom Rinaldi examines the coaching career of the new Ohio State coach.

Agent confirms Meyer accepts OSU job

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Urban Meyer's camp is finally confirming that the coach is headed to Ohio State.

Trace Armstrong, Meyer's agent, confirmed Monday morning that Meyer has accepted Ohio State's head-coaching position. Meyer, currently an ESPN analyst, repeatedly had denied reports that he had received an offer from Ohio State or signed a contract. Final details of the deal were being worked out during the weekend.

Still no word on an official announcement and news conference from Ohio State, but it should be soon.

Much more to come on this story.

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