Urban Meyer: No Buckeyes deal
Sources have told WKMG-TV in Orlando that ESPN college football analyst Urban Meyer has agreed in principle to become coach at Ohio State and will be introduced in the coming days. According to WKMG's sources, Meyer has agreed to a seven-year, $40 million deal.
Also, the Columbus Dispatch is reporting two well-placed sources at Ohio State said Wednesday that Meyer will be announced next week as the next head coach of the Buckeyes. But the Dispatch's sources also said final terms for a deal -- such as length of contract and financial remuneration -- have not been decided.
Contacted Wednesday by ESPN, Meyer, who coached Florida to two national championships, denied that he had a deal with Ohio State.
"I have not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place," Meyer said in a statement. "I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my family and will not comment on this any further."
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that there are a handful of obstacles Meyer must clear before further engaging with Ohio State, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. That includes speaking with his entire family over Thanksgiving and further researching just how significant the NCAA sanctions against Ohio State may be.
People within the athletic department and close to the team told The Associated Press the job has not been offered to Meyer and nothing has been completed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the coaching search is supposed to be confidential. Athletic director Gene Smith declined to comment Wednesday.
WKMG's sources said Mickey Marotti, the strength coach at Florida, would join Meyer and become Ohio State's director of football operations and that Luke Fickell, currently interim head coach at Ohio State, would stay on as an assistant head coach.
The Dispatch's sources said that though Fickell has not been in the loop, he will be taken care of when or if Meyer accepts the job. In what capacity, the sources weren't sure.
Ohio State plays at Michigan (No. 15 BCS, No. 17 AP) on Saturday. Fickell declined to address the story, which has been percolating for days.
"No. I won't," he said Wednesday. "It's not about that. I'm going to have enough respect for this football game to make sure it's about this football game. I don't think this is the time and the place."
Speaking briefly to reporters, he was asked if he knew if a decision on a new coach had been made yet.
"I know there's a game at noon on Saturday," he said.
Last Saturday, ESPN.com reported through sources that Ohio State had talked to Meyer about becoming coach and that there was strong interest on both sides.
I have not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place. I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my family and will not comment on this any further.” -- Urban Meyer
On Monday, Meyer, who left Florida after the 2010 season -- in part because of family and health concerns -- talked about the possibilities of returning to coaching.
"The concerns are still there," Meyer told The Gainesville Sun. "No. 1: My health. No. 2: My family. No. 3: The state of college football. I've done some research into the second one. I've found that it is possible to have balance between your job and your family, that there are coaches out there who are doing it.
"I'm in a good place right now mentally and physically. So if something happens with Ohio State, I'll have a decision to make. But there has been no interview. There has been no offer to make a decision about.
"If there is a decision to be made concerning Ohio State, there will be a lot that will go into it. But right now, there is no decision to be made.
"I love football. It's what I am. I miss it."
The 47-year-old Meyer is an Ohio native. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach for the Buckeyes in 1986.
Meyer won 104 games over 10 years with the Gators, Utah and Bowling Green.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he would welcome Meyer back into the coaching fraternity.
"Urban Meyer is a very good coach, he's a good teacher. He's good for young people," Saban said on the Southeastern Conference coaches conference call this week. "If coaching is in his heart, I think that's what he should do."
One of Meyer's star players at Florida, Tim Tebow, also said he was glad to hear Meyer might be coming back to coaching.
"Whatever he decides to do, I'll be 100 percent behind him," said the Denver Broncos quarterback. "It will be exciting to see what happens. I know, more than anything, he wants to be right by his family and have their support in anything he does. Most of when we've talked it's been about that. When he comes back, he's going to be a great coach, and I'm excited to see what happens."
Ohio State promoted Fickell nearly six months ago when Jim Tressel resigned amid an investigation into players trading memorabilia for tattoos in violation of NCAA rules.
In a season with NCAA sanctions looming, several players suspended and injuries to important players, the Buckeyes have gone 6-5 -- their worst season since Tressel went 7-5 in his first season in 2001. Should the Buckeyes lose at Michigan on Saturday, the 6-6 mark would be their worst since John Cooper went 6-6 in 1999.
The speculation about Meyer has been making the rounds for weeks.
One of the top football recruits in Ohio for next fall, defensive end Adolphus Washington from Cincinnati's Taft High School, committed to Ohio State on Tuesday. Asked at his news conference who he thought would be coaching the Buckeyes next season, he said, "I believe Urban Meyer. I hope so."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.