Meyer's script keeps traditions

Coach adds tweaks, but needs no introduction to Ohio State pageantry

Updated: August 20, 2012, 8:42 AM ET
By Austin Ward | BuckeyeNation

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There are already plenty of trophies on display. Pictures of All-Americans and coaching legends are seemingly on every wall.

And the traditions? It's safe to assume that a native son and a former Ohio State assistant isn't going to be scrapping helmet stickers of buckeye leaves any time soon.

The standard boilerplate for a recently hired coach that a culture change for the program is in order. But that doesn't work for Urban Meyer. The new man in charge of the Buckeyes inherited a program used to winning at a high level, historically stocked with legends both on the field and the sideline and one that takes its pageantry seriously.

And that's exactly why Meyer decided to return to coaching.

[+] EnlargeMeyer
The Ohio State University Athletic DepartmentMeyer as an Ohio State graduate assistant in 1986.
"I wasn't going to take a job at a place where I had to go change the culture," Meyer said. "I mean, I just don't want to do that. What was so appealing to me about Ohio State is Ohio State wins. They won with Woody Hayes, they won with Earle Bruce, they won with John Cooper and they did a great job with Jim Tressel.

"Do we do things maybe a little bit differently? That's called different, not changing the culture. I'm relying a lot on the past, but I'm also doing it the way we know how to do it."

That includes a few holdovers from previous stops in Meyer's decorated career, though nothing so far that would qualify as a major affront to the Ohio State way of doing things. Based on a couple additions Meyer has made during his first training camp leading the Buckeyes, the modifications have been welcomed.

There was the final dinner of the offseason that included a ceremonial handing off of the roster from the strength staff to Meyer, which capped a summer that earned raves from more than one returning player.

Meyer's black stripes also made the move to Columbus. An on-field initiation dating to his time at Bowling Green, freshmen players have black stripes taped on their helmets until they earn the privilege of having the stripe removed, becoming full-fledged members of the team in ceremonial fashion.

And while Meyer has yet to coach through a game week at this point, he's given the Buckeyes no reason to think he'll mess with all the traditions they've come to love about their program.

"I think he is trying to implement some of his own traditions, but at the same time, he's not going to do anything too drastic compared to what we've done before," senior Zach Boren said. "There are some things that we love, like the skull session before games and stuff like that. We for sure wanted that to stay, but it hasn't really come up yet.

"But with all the traditions, I mean, he's been here. He's grown up in Ohio. He knows what they are."

That hasn't always been the case for Meyer when he's arrived at a program. He needed training on the fly from his players at Utah in 2003. He was aware of what he was getting into when he left for Florida two years later, but Meyer wasn't versed in all the finer details when he arrived.

He obviously learned and adapted at both stops, but Meyer can skip that step this time around.

"I love Utah, but I didn't really understand Utah," Meyer said. "I would ask the players to educate me. Same thing with Florida -- I didn't know about 'We Are The Boys.' I didn't know about the traditions. We started a lot of our own.

"But I don't have to rely on a lot of people to tell me about the traditions of Ohio State. I lived it, I breathed it, I know it and I love it."

And most importantly, he didn't come back to change it.

Austin Ward | email

Ohio State/Big Ten reporter

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