Hurricane Meyer Building

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 12/19/2011 2:46 PM

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Hurricane Meyer Building Offshore
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Winters in Ohio are typically known for their harsh blizzards, but there is a tropical storm building in Columbus that just might slam the Midwest, and all of college football in 2012.

Urban Meyer
Urban Meyer

For that very reason, Urban Meyer has been content watching the Buckeyes from a distance as they prepare for the Gator Bowl under interim head coach Luke Fickell. When the time is right, Meyer won’t have to announce his presence.

“I want a hurricane when we hit,” Meyer said Monday morning while meeting with a select group of reporters in Columbus.

“A hurricane can’t hit by itself. I want nine guys (on staff) to present one very clear message.”

That message starts with Meyer’s relentless attitude towards everything surrounding the game of football and the Ohio State University. That starts with his players, and Meyer admitted has had a tendency to get a little too defensive over what he considers to be his extended family.

“I’m a great fan of the game of football. I love football. And when I say ‘love,’ I mean I’ve devoted my life to it,” Meyer said passionately Monday morning.

“When I say ‘love,’ I’m not talking about passing or trap plays or zone read plays, I’m talking about the struggle, the work that goes on in the locker room and what goes on with these kids’ lives. I just get real defensive and I think I will be much better at that.”

Meyer said he tried to step back and take on a CEO approach to coaching, where he coached his coaches and they were the ones intimately involved in the lives of the players. He thought that would help him manage his emotions, but quickly realized it is not the way he is built.

“That’s not who we are and that’s not how we are going to hire coaches. That won’t happen. I thought about it for a week, but that’s not what we’re going to do,” Meyer said.

“I have a job like everyone has a job. And my job is, without question number one, my players. I treat them like my kids.”

That doesn’t mean Meyer is going to go easy on his newly adopted children. In fact, he stated just the opposite on Monday morning.

“Football is a tough game and a tough sport. We’ll put them in situations where we’re going to evaluate,” he said.

“And I’m not talking about bench presses. Everybody in the country can do that. Mickey (Marotti) has a way of putting guys into different situations and I want to see how they respond. That situation could be conducive to converting a fourth-and-2, or a fourth quarter where you need someone to make a play. I’m trying to recreate that situation, so we can make an evaluation.”

By ‘we,’ Meyer means the new coaching staff he is putting together in Columbus. He already announced the addition of new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman, but Meyer is holding off on a few of the other names out of respect for all the parties involved.

“We are putting together a staff and we are kind of holding (some things) off out of respect to some people in bowl games,” Meyer said.

“More than anything else, most of my guys are head coaches now. They’re on their own.”

Meyer did say that cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson will be retained after the bowl game, along with Stan Drayton, who will return to coaching running backs like he did for Meyer at the University of Florida.

Linebackers coach Mike Vrabel is still being evaluated, although he has been on the road recruiting with Meyer and the other OSU assistants who are staying on the new coaching staff.

“It will be a staff that is very well thought out,” Meyer added.

His first hire after taking the job in Columbus was to retain interim head coach Luke Fickell—a decision Meyer said was all his own and not that of Athletic Director Gene Smith.

“I knew Luke more by reputation. I met him when he visited Florida a few years ago. Obviously, Jim (Tressel) spoke highly of Luke when we would be out places and we would talk,” Meyer said.

“Those are all positives. The reasons he is here are not those. The reason he is here is because he is an excellent football coach and an even better person. At no time did Gene say, ‘I want you to keep Luke.’ The conversation was, ‘We’d like you to consider keeping Luke and a variety of other guys.’”

Meyer said he had not made a final decision on whether that would include current defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. It seems unlikely Heacock would remain on staff, especially if Meyer is going to add North Carolina interim coach Everett Withers, as expected.

It would, however, depend on what happens with Fickell, who has interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Luke was very up front. He did interview for the Pitt job and we imagine we will hear something soon,” Meyer said.

“I think Luke is a head coach at some point. I don’t know him well enough to say when. I can tell you as a family man and a coach, he’s all you would want.”

Of course, Meyer is hoping he will stay.

“It would be significant,” Meyer said. “That’s a big hit.”

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