It was a rough year in Columbus for Ohio State. Like every year, the Buckeyes were in the spotlight of college football. However unlike previous years this time the light was shining on Columbus in a negative way. The program was rocked by a scandal that cost them some of their top players, their future Hall-Of-Fame Coach, and it all led to a disappointing 6-6 season. After 11 months of embarrassment, there is reason for celebration near the Olentangy because it also led the Buckeyes to Urban Meyer.
Meyer was introduced as Ohio State’s newest head coach yesterday. The Buckeyes took a risk in hiring Meyer and there are still questions about his commitment after everything that transpired at the end of his tenure at Florida. There’s no guarantee that Ohio State will rise back to the top of the Big Ten Conference immediately. There’s no guarantee that Meyer won’t get burnt out again. There’s no guarantee that this hire will finally allow a Big Ten power to take down the SEC on the biggest stage in college football. All it means is that Ohio State now has the best coach in America walking the sidelines and its best chance of bringing the crystal trophy back to Columbus.
Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Spielman joined ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland with the Hooligans to talk about how they are feeling after the hiring of Urban Meyer, how Meyer sounds now that he is the new head coach at OSU, how long it will take him to return Ohio State back to prominence after a down year, if they were offered a spot on his coaching staff, and what it will mean to Meyer to have Braxton Miller as his quarterback.
How Meyer sounds now that he is officially OSU’s head coach:
Kirk Herbstreit: “He sounds like an eight-year-old on Christmas morning. He sounds like a guy who is bursting at the seams to get started. It’s interesting because I have been in contact with him almost on a day-to-basis for the last week and a half or so and it’s interesting to see the change in emotion during that time because I think there was some soul searching there. Rest assured this is his dream job. This is the job that he’s always wanted. The only job that probably woulda brought him back out of retirement. At the same time I think that stuff about his health and his family was real. I think he needed to talk with Shelley his wife and with his three kids and they did a lot of sitting around at a dinner table and everybody having a chance to say their piece about what they thought about this. I think depending on how those conversations went was really going to determine whether or not he was going to get back into this, get back into the grind.”
How tough it will be to live up to the expectations left behind by Jim Tressel:
KH: “I don’t know. That’s the thing. Coming off a 6-6 season you’ve gotta remember that this is kind of a golden era that he’s stepping in after with what Jim Tressel did. It was almost a foregone conclusion for seven or eight years he was gonna beat Michigan, they were gonna get to a BCS Bowl game, and if they didn’t get to the National Championship oh man it’s a down year. You have to look at this and think what does he bring to the table? He brings a background of success. You combine what he’s accomplished by winning two national titles at Florida, in his mid-40’s, in the middle of the prime of his coaching career with Ohio State’s brand and resources and I just think Ohio State has a unique opportunity here to recruit at a very high level. I think they’re going to have an opportunity to try to own the state of Ohio despite what Brady Hoke has started up in Ann Arbor. I think he’ll still have ties to Florida to be able to get some skill out of Florida, and I think with the way he’ll quote Woody Hayes, he’s gonna quote Earle Bruce, it’s a different kind of feel with him as a head coach. He’s an emotional guy, he’s gonna tell you what he thinks, he’s gonna be candid. It’s gonna be very different in the way hell run this program from Jim Tressel. If something happens that he doesn’t like he will let you know about it. There’s not gonna be a company line or a spin, he’s gonna tell ya. It’s gonna be different. He’ll refer to Michigan as the school up North and Brady Hoke will call Ohio State Ohio and I love that. Let’s stir it up and get those two going toe-to-toe and get that rivalry going right now. Michigan just won, ended the seven game streak, and now they’re excited about what they’re doing and that’s great. They should be with Brady. Here come’s Urban Meyer who is gonna demand that he and his staff owns the state of Ohio and that kinda goes against everything Michigan is trying to create here. I don’t think you will be seeing too many gold pants on EBay moving forward. I think these guys are gonna realize that beating Michigan should be unique, a special season, and you should hold on to that memory the rest of your life. The gold pants are symbolic of that season and that victory. I would be shocked with the way that he will emphasize that if you see any more gold pants on EBay so you better buy those up fast.”
How long it will take Meyer to turn things around at OSU:
KH: “Well I don’t want to say it’s gonna be the first year that they’re gonna win a National Championship but let’s face it, the Big Ten is mediocre at best as a conference from top to bottom. With the talent that Ohio State has on their roster, with the staff that Urban Meyer will put together, I think there’s reason to be optimistic in that first year. Depending how recruiting goes at the end of this year and next year I really think the Buckeyes first couple of classes are very, very important to help build that foundation of his style of players to fit his system. I’m very anxious to see Luke Fickell’s role and I know there are a lot of other big name assistant coaches that he’ll talk about that if he ends up getting it’ll get people really, really excited. If he’s able to land some of these assistant coaches or coordinators then I think Ohio State hits the ground running with the talent they already have and then with the coaches they have coming in.”
Whether or not he was offered a spot on Meyer’s staff:
KH: “No he and I talked about it in the past and I’ve talked with a number of coaches just about coaching. In my DNA, you know my dad coached and I’d love to coach one day but at the end of the day, for me personally, I’ve got the best job that I could hope to ever have and as much as I would love to coach I’m gonna enjoy being a College Gameday Analyst and calling the games on Saturday night. As long as ESPN will have me I will keep doing this but it would be a great honor to have a chance to go back there, but he and I never really got into serious discussions about that. It was more of a philosophical discussion about the demands of coaching and how tough it can be. I have definitely entertained the thought especially earlier in my career.”
What he knows about Meyer’s love for OSU:
Chris Spielman: “The first game we did was Akron versus Ohio State in the opener. When the band came out and did ‘Script Ohio’ he just slapped me on the shoulder with a big smile on his face and said I’ve never seen this before. That was something special for him and you could tell he is passionate about Ohio State and passionate about the University itself beyond the football program.”
Whether or not he thinks it is a good hire by Ohio State:
CS: “I think it’s a great hire. You’ve got a 47-year-old guy who has two National Championships, who will secure the state of Ohio in recruiting, hopefully will bring the state of Florida and Georgia into that, will hire good coaches around him, and will be passionate. He understands what his mission is. That’s to win at Ohio State and win in a hurry and I think he’s up for the challenge. With that being said I want to commend Luke on the job of showing great leadership through the whole process. I think Luke will hopefully get a head coaching job somewhere at some level because I think he deserves it and deserve a shot to see what he can do with his own staff and his own philosophy and stamp on a program.”
What it will mean to Meyer to have a quarterback like Braxton Miller:
CS: “I think it’s vital. He like me believes in a dual threat quarterback at the college level because it’s so hard to defend. I know that his offense will be quarterback driven and here he has a young guy in Braxton Miller that he will develop, grow, and should put up spectacular numbers by the time it’s all said and done.”