Chatting With Urban Meyer—Part II: Tressel & NCAA Sanctions
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — For all his talk about Ohio State being home and the Buckeyes not being “broken,” there was a very real step of faith by Urban Meyer when he accepted the head coaching job in Columbus.
There was no guarantee when he took the job of what the NCAA sanctions would be, and three weeks later we still do not know what the final ruling will be, or even when it will be.
Ohio State’s original meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions was back on Aug. 12, but the ruling was pushed back by the violations uncovered during the investigation into now-disassociated booster Bobby DiGeronimo.
The Buckeyes have since self-imposed the loss of five scholarships over three years to go with their previous decision to vacate the 2011 season, but Meyer did his own investigation before taking the job.
“I just did a lot of research,” he said Monday morning during his meeting with a handful of local reporters in Columbus.
“I contacted a lot of people outside Ohio State. I wanted to hear it from some trusted people I have at the NCAA and some other people I have known who have dealt with the NCAA. When you start talking about the overall integrity of the institution, it’s a positive.”
That has been Meyer’s message to potential recruits, and it is not much different from the sales pitch Luke Fickell was using during his time as the interim head coach in Columbus.
Both coaches have stressed the fact that Ohio State is always going to be Ohio State, and the University is bigger than one man, or even an entire coaching staff. That was something Fickell had to learn the hard way when his boss, the man who brought him back to Columbus as an assistant coach, was forced to resign over NCAA violations he committed by not reporting to the proper authorities.
Former OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel sat on information about potential violations being committed by two of his players—Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey—which is something Meyer believes you cannot do in this day in age
“You always have to anticipate,” he said Monday.
“Errors are 90 percent anticipation. If you see that something doesn’t look right, you go like a torpedo and go blow the whole thing up and then you put it back together. You can’t in college athletics just say, ‘Boy, I hope that thing works out OK.’ You can’t do that.”
That is exactly what Tressel was accused of doing, although he believed he was looking out for his players and for an ongoing federal investigation. No one else knows exactly what happened, but Meyer has no plans of throwing stones at a man he clearly respected.
“I trust what happened here was a series of legitimate mistakes,” Meyer said when asked about the situation he walked in to.
“Were they willful, intentful violations? I don’t think that. I know the people who were here. I know them very well. I know what this place stands for. I’ll fight that even though I wasn’t here.”
During his six seasons at Florida, Meyer saw some of the worst parts of college football, especially when it came to recruiting. He admittedly got caught up in trying to fix things that were outside of his control, which is something he will try to avoid this time around.
“I think you worry about your own house. And at times, I went worrying about other people's houses and about the general state (of college football),” Meyer admitted.
“There's enough really quality people in the NCAA and conferences, that my focus is not going to be on that. It's going to be on this house.”
Much like Florida, Meyer knows the expectations never change at Ohio State.
“Win it all,” he said.
“This is a monster. Ohio State is a monster. I just came from a monster. There are probably five or six of them out there where they don’t want anything less.”
The Buckeyes won one BCS national title in 10 seasons under Tressel, but Ohio State fans were still upset when they could not bring home another championship against Meyer’s Gators in 2007.
The same can be said for 2008, when the Buckeyes lost to LSU in the title game. Meyer knows there will always be pressure to win, but he also has confidence in his blueprint for success.
“The formula is really easy: you go and recruit really good players who are tough and can compete and then you surround them with the best coaches in college football,” Meyer said.
“That’s the formula, but the execution of the formula is difficult."
More often than not, he made it look easy.
Part I: Chatting with Urban Meyer
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