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Last updated: 11/28/2011 12:20 PM

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The Wait is Over: Meyer Takes Dream Job at Ohio State
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — There were a few minor bumps in the road, but finally, at long last, Urban Meyer will be the next head coach of the Ohio State football team.

OSU Head Coach Urban Meyer
Photo by Jim Davidson
Urban Meyer

The 47-year old who won two BCS National Championships at the University of Florida has agreed to take over an Ohio State program that has been in a state of turmoil since the forced resignation of former head coach Jim Tressel.

“I think by hiring Urban Meyer, Ohio State has made a very strong statement about what Ohio State football needed and the direction that they’re heading now with Urban Meyer in control,” said ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who worked with Meyer during his one year away from coaching.

“You’re talking about one of the premier coaches that is out there in coaching.”

Meyer’s agent confirmed to ESPN early Monday morning that his client has agreed to a contract with the Buckeyes, confirmed numerous reports that have been swirling for that last few weeks.

Ohio State will hold a press conference at 5:15 p.m. ET today to introduced Meyer as the 24th head coach in school history, sources confirmed to Meyer is meeting with interim head coach Luke Fickell this afternoon about a position on his coaching staff for 2012 and beyond.

“This is huge considering everything this university has been through,” Herbstreit said.

OSU Head Coach Urban Meyer
Photo by Jim Davidson
Urban Meyer

“First of all, I thought Luke Fickell did a very good job of trying to manage that situation the best that he could. He made the most of it and represented Ohio State in a very first-class way.”

After nine seasons as an assistant under Tressel, Fickell stepped in to what he thought was going to be a two-game stint as the interim head coach while Tressel served his suspension. He ended up being handed the program for the 2011 season after Tressel was forced out the door on Memorial Day.

The Buckeyes were just 6-6 under Fickell, but there is likely no record that could have kept Ohio State from pursuing Meyer, who was born in Toledo and raised in Ashtabula, Ohio.

“For Ohio State, they get a coach who has dreamed about this opportunity his whole life,” Herbstreit added.

“He will be very, very, very aggressive in recruiting and going after the best players in the state of Ohio. And with his connections in the state of Florida, there’s reason to be very optimistic about the direction Ohio State football is heading with Urban Meyer as the coach.”

Meyer comes to Columbus with unprecedented success as a head coach. In nine seasons, he was 104-23 overall with zero losing seasons in his three stops at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.

He was a defensive back at the University of Cincinnati in the mid-1980s and went directly into coaching after a brief stint with minor league baseball. He took a job coaching the defensive backs at St. Xavier High School Cincinnati in 1985, but quickly moved north to become a graduate assistant at Ohio State under then-head coach Earle Bruce.

After two seasons in Columbus, Meyer spent time as an assistant at Illinois State (1988-89) under Jim Heacock, Colorado State (1990-95) and eventually at Notre Dame (1996-2000). He got his first head-coaching gig in 2001 with Bowling Green, and quickly turned a team that was 2-9 the previous season into a contender. They finished second in the Mid American Conference that season with an 8-3 record overall and the Falcons were 9-3 the following season before Meyer took the job at Utah.

OSU Head Coach Urban Meyer
Photo by Jim Davidson
Urban Meyer

It was there Meyer truly became a hot commodity in the coaching world. Using his innovative spread-offense, Meyer led the Utes to a 22-2 record from 2003-04. His team was undefeated in 2004, becoming the first team from a non-automatically qualifying BCS conference to crack the BCS bowl system.

Utah throttled Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl to cap their first perfect season since 1930. Meyer was immediately courted by both Notre Dame and Florida, but opted to sign with the Gators in 2005. Meyer would find instant success in Gainesville, where he led Florida to a 65-15 record in six seasons.

They won three SEC titles and went 5-1 in bowl games, including the two national title games, before Meyer announced his retirement after the 2010 football season. 

“He decided to step down for his personal reasons in Gainesville. I know there are some Florida fans scratching their heads right now, what about family, what about the health,” Herbstreit said.

“That’s something Urban Meyer can address when he’s introduced to the media. I’m sure that weighed on his mind very heavily as he weighed his decision. Shelly, his wife, and his three kids must have been on board for him to take this job.”

Meyer recently told The Gainesville Sun that he learned college football coaches could have some balance in their life, which probably had everything to do with him accepting the head-coaching job he has always wanted.

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