Time and Change is a series at BuckeyeNation where we chat with former Ohio State athletes.
Mike Kudla was a first-team all-Big Ten selection as a senior at defensive end and played on the 2003 national championship team as a freshman.
Kudla, 28, rounded out his career with the Buckeyes against Notre Dame in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl by sacking quarterback Brady Quinn three times in a 34-20 Ohio State victory.
The three sacks are still a Fiesta Bowl record, and his 9½ sacks his senior season tied A.J. Hawk for the team lead.
He wasn't drafted to the NFL and was signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but hamstring issues kept Kudla from the field in the NFL and the injury ultimately forced him from the game.
In high school, Kudla led Medina (Ohio) Highland to its first playoff appearance in 2000 and a perfect regular season in 2001. In his final game with the Hornets, Kudla tore a hip flexor but still preserved a 21-20 playoff victory over Oak Harbor by blocking an extra point.
He currently lives in Columbus and was hired in March as the Director of Development for The Fisher College of Business at Ohio State. BuckeyeNation caught up with Kudla recently about his legacy, his new job at OSU and his thoughts on the 2012 Buckeyes.
BN: Do you ever look back on the hamstring and wonder, "What if?"
Kudla: No. Everything happens for a reason. At the end of the day, I reached my goal. I reached the pinnacle of my sport. That was the goal that I set out as a kid. I was there. I saw everything. I knew I could compete with the best. Unfortunately, my time was cut short. You accept that. You move forward. Living with regret is always looking back. I tend to be someone who is always looking forward.
BN: You were recently inducted into the Hall of Fame in the county where you grew up, and former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel came to your induction ceremony. What did it mean to have him there?
Kudla: It meant a lot. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Tressel. He's done a lot for me personally. He's a great mentor and a great friend. To have him there on such an important day for me meant everything. It's just one of those situations where you feel very lucky to have crossed paths with him and to learn the lessons he has to teach.
BN: Living in Columbus, what's the buzz like with Urban Meyer set to take over as coach?
Kudla: It's tremendous. Like anything, with change comes a certain excitement. Everyone knows Urban's pedigree and they're excited to see how that transitions to Ohio State. It's one of those bittersweet changes. There's sadness to see Coach Tressel go, but they're optimistic to see what Coach Meyer will do.
BN: What do you think the Urban Meyer era will bring?
Kudla: That's a good question. The M.O. on Coach Meyer is that he likes explosive offense. We were so used to Coach Tressel with his "Tressel ball" and with ball control and game strategy. I think what you'll see out of Coach Meyer is more explosive plays. You're looking at a more dynamic offense, but with the same strength as Ohio State's silver bullet defense of [the] past.
BN: Has anyone from Ohio State reached out to you for help, be it for a football camp or otherwise?
Kudla: Yes. Every month, there's something going on. It would be a laundry list to tell you. The brotherhood that we stay connected in is such a tight fraternity. It's a very unique situation to have.
BN: What does the future hold?
Kudla: I love working with the university. I love being back here. It's my goal to be here and be around the program and be around the university. I want to do whatever I can to integrate myself with the great people at this place. I love to give back to the community and work with kids. I want to give back the knowledge I gained throughout all my years and shape children to help them reach their dreams and aspirations.