Sources: Urban Meyer joins Ohio State
Ohio State will hold a news conference at 5:15 p.m. ET at the Fawcett Center to introduce its new coach. It did not mention Meyer, a native of Ashtabula, Ohio.
Meyer, who led the Gators to two national championships before stepping down to spend more time with his family amid ongoing reports of health concerns, had worked as a game analyst this season for ESPN. But he asked to be taken off his assignments for the network this weekend as reports swirled of his imminent hire by Ohio State, a program with a glittering past that has suffered through a difficult year of NCAA violations, suspensions and a 6-6 record.
Columbus will be the fourth stop in the 47-year-old Meyer's coaching career. He had a 104-23 record over 10 seasons with Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. From 2001-10, he had five 10-win seasons, the two BCS titles with the Gators and a 7-1 record in bowl games -- including the Gators' 41-14 victory over unbeaten and top-ranked Ohio State in the 2007 title game.
Sources told WKMG-TV in Orlando last week that Meyer will receive a seven-year, $40 million contract.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and other university officials did not respond to requests for comment.
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• GatorNation: Mixed emotions
• WolverineNation: Hoke on rivalry
• Meyer's contract at Ohio St. (PDF)
• Stats & Info: Poised for turnaround
• Luginbill: Recruiting bonanza
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• SportsNation: Revival in Columbus?
A team meeting set for Sunday night was moved to Monday afternoon before the news conference to allow Meyer to meet his players.
Earle Bruce, who was the head coach at Ohio State when Meyer was a graduate assistant in the mid-1980s, has remained a close friend and confidant of Meyer through the years. He said he had no concerns about Meyer's health issues.
"Well, if he'd had a heart attack and his heart was bad, I'd be worried about that," the 80-year-old Bruce said on Monday, according to The Associated Press. "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."
Alabama coach Nick Saban, who played at Kent State and coached at Toledo in the Buckeye state, said he was happy for Meyer.
"I'm sure he's excited about it, and I'm excited for him that he has an opportunity to go back to his home state and be the head coach here," Saban said. "I think it's a wonderful opportunity and I think he'll do a great job."
Meyer takes over a program that is likely facing NCAA sanctions and was crippled by the resignation of coach Jim Tressel, who was forced out nearly six months ago amid a tattoo-parlor scandal involving star Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The Buckeyes completed their only season under interim Luke Fickell with a 40-34 loss to Michigan on Saturday that snapped a seven-game winning streak to their rivals and left them with a 3-5 record in the Big Ten.
Wolverines coach Brady Hoke underplayed the role of the head coaches in the rivalry.
"I've known Urban, he's a good football coach, a good guy and I welcome him in," Hoke said on Monday. "But it's still Michigan and Ohio and neither one of us is going to play the game."
Meyer inherits a program still facing NCAA sanctions. But he also inherits a young team led by a freshman quarterback, Braxton Miller, who would seem to be a perfect fit for his spread offense.
Missing several top players because of NCAA suspensions stemming from the tattoo mess, the Buckeyes were hit with more suspensions when three players accepted $200 in cash for attending a charity event and others were forced to sit out or had their existing suspensions extended for being overpaid for summer jobs.
Ohio State's .500 record marked the most losses at Ohio State since John Cooper's 1999 team also went 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes had already lost their string of six Big Ten titles when the school was forced to vacate the 2010 season for the NCAA violations. The school also has self-imposed two years of NCAA probation, offered to return $339,000 in bowl revenue from 2010 and to give up five scholarships over the next three seasons.
Ohio State is awaiting final word from the NCAA's committee on infractions. The committee tagged Ohio State with a "failure to monitor" label -- second only to a lack of institutional control on the list of most egregious charges against a university. The school could still be hit with a bowl ban, a loss of more scholarships, or other penalties.
One of Meyer's broadcast partners and close friends is former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman.
"He enjoyed what he was doing, but I think he also had the bug to start coaching again," said Spielman, who added he would not be an assistant coach under Meyer as some have speculated. "We just kind of talked about the pros and cons of both throughout the year. He weighed all the options and there were jobs out there that definitely captured his interest and certainly Ohio State was one of them. He decided that it was the best move. This was just an opportunity that he couldn't pass up."
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN's Stats & Information Group was used in this report.
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