Meyer Soaks Up First Win at Ohio Stadium
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS — With the Victory Bell chiming and the excitement buzzing inside Ohio Stadium, Shelley Meyer made her way through the crowd.
She was looking for a familiar face.
Decked in Buckeye colors, with a temporary Block O tattooed to her cheek, the new first lady of Ohio State football was home, finally. Back in the Horseshoe with her husband for the first time since his final days as graduate assistant for Earle Bruce in 1987.
Only this time, her husband was the one leading the team out of the tunnel and on to the field where he began his college coaching career more than a quarter century ago.
With Earle watching closely from the press box above, it was Meyer’s turn to run the program he once referred to as “a way of life” for him growing up in Northeast Ohio.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“The day overall, it was a great day,” Meyer said following his first victory as the head football coach in Columbus.
“Hang on Sloopy kicked it off in the fourth quarter. I stared at that for a while, watched it. Told a couple of people that I've never seen that before. Checked that out.”
He had seen once before, but not like this. Though he claims he started thinking about this job the moment he stepped away from his last one, there was no way to simulate what it would feel like the first time he ran down that tunnel, under the red awning, and on to the field where the Ohio State University Marching Band – not to mention 105,000 fans – was awaiting their new conquering hero.
“I was anxious for the day,” Meyer admitted, despite the fact he says got around six hours of sleep on Friday night.
“I was glad the fans enjoyed a decent day. I was worried about how we would adjust to weather issues. I just wanted it to be a good day for Ohio State football. And I believe it was.”
Many would argue it wasn’t just a good day, it was a great day. Meyer didn’t actually come out of his shoes during Ohio State’s season-opener against Miami (Ohio) – at least not that we know of – but he was visibly animated, at least for Urban Meyer, before kickoff.
After kickoff, Meyer wasn’t quite as enthused with what he was seeing unfold in front of him, at least not in the first quarter.
“That darned first quarter, I was embarrassed with the way we were playing,” Meyer said after his team was outgained 172-48 in the first quarter of Saturday’s 56-10 win over Miami.
“We worked so hard and we didn’t play very well, in all phases. Defense let a couple of passes go that we shouldn’t have.”
Urban Meyer after OSU's win over Miami
Photo by Dan Harker
A couple of big ones were dropped by Miami receivers, who did very little to help quarterback Zac Dysert in his quest to upset the Buckeyes. The Redhawks led 3-0 after one quarter, but it easily could have been 14-0. Instead the Buckeyes responded with 21 points in the second quarter and they should have had at least six more but Carlos Hyde was stuffed at the 1-yard line on the final play of the first half.
The Buckeyes would go on to a 56-10 victory, outscoring Miami 35-7 in the second half while quarterback Braxton Miller posted Heisman Trophy-type numbers (207 passing, 161 rushing) in the first win of Meyer’s OSU career.
Afterwards, Meyer quickly made his way to the south end zone of Ohio Stadium for his first public rendition of Ohio State’s alma mater Carmen Ohio.
“I’ve been enjoying being Ohio State coach for about seven months now. So that was – I don’t want to deflate that moment. It’s a great moment,” he said.
It was there, Meyer’s wife was searching for him amongst the sea of players, coaches, fans and band members in the south end zone. When she finally found him, he was right where he wanted to be.
“I’m with a bunch of guys I care about,” he said.
“Love our players. I have my arms around two guys next to me and (Garrett) Goebel’s to my left, and I love that guy. There’s a lot of guys on this team I have a lot of respect for.”
Shelley never quite made it to her husband. She sang the alma mater with a few other coaches’ wives, but eventually found her way to Urban for the first of many victory embraces in this stadium.
“Saying the alma mater, I’m a graduate,” Meyer said with pride.
“And the fight song, that was a special moment. And we got to sing the fight song in the locker room as well.”
Again, the first of many for Meyer and his new players.
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