Meyer Enthused

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Last updated: 06/21/2012 1:48 PM

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Football
Meyer Enthused by Ohio State’s Momentum

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State football team posted its best Academic Progress Rate (APR) in school history on Wednesday.

Urban Meyer
Photo by Jim Davidson
Urban Meyer

While it wasn’t all Urban Meyer’s work that gave the Buckeyes the fourth-highest APR score in the country — behind only Northwestern, Duke and Boise State — Ohio State’s new head coach loves the upward trend in his program in the year 2012.  

“There’s 42 days left until we start camp, and we had one of the highest GPA’s here in the last 10 years,” Meyer said Wednesday during his appearance on “The Dan Dakich Show” on ESPN radio affiliate 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis.

“There’s a lot of momentum. Programs have momentum and then they lose momentum. Right now there’s momentum at Ohio State.”

Ohio State’s basketball program raised its APR score for the fifth-consecutive year, up to 969 for the 2010-11 academic year. It was the football program, however, which came under heavy fire during 2011.

The school lost a Hall-of-Fame football coach when Jim Tressel was forced to resign last May. The football program spun into disarray under interim head coach Luke Fickell, thanks in large part to the suspensions of a number of key seniors who were involved in the memorabilia scandal.

When Meyer took over the program in November — after a 6-6 regular season which would eventually become the school’s first losing season since the 1980’s — one of his first orders of business was to put an emphasis on personal accountability.

That was a big part of the reason Meyer suspended tight end Jake Stoneburner and offensive tackle Jack Mewhort, while also removing their athletic scholarships for the Summer Semester.

“The fact I know the kids, and that it’s the first time anything has ever been said negative about them, and that they get great grades and are war horses — but mistakes were made,” Meyer told The Columbus Dispatch.

“And that was a stupid mistake.”

Meyer and his new coaching staff — which includes Fickell as defensive coordinator — have made a number of changes since taking the reins of the program in January, but not because things were wildly out of control in Columbus.

Quite the contrary, says Meyer.

“The previous coaching staff — coach Tressel is a good friend — did a fabulous job,” Meyer told Dakich on Wednesday.

“Maybe a different style, but it’s not one of those things where there is something wrong here. There’s things we do different, and there were some things that maybe weren’t right, but name a program that doesn’t have something.”

Even the players understood things needed to tighten up, and everyone around the program needed to be held to a higher standard of accountability—both on and off the field.

“I have great respect for what was done here before — not good respect, great respect—but we’re moving forward,” Meyer said.

“And the kids like it. They want to win, and they really believe that we know how to win.”

Meyer certainly proved he knew how to win at Florida, where the Gators won a pair of BCS National Championships during his six-year tenure in Gainesville. It was the pinnacle of success for a young coach who had taken his first head coaching just five years before winning the title.

That instantaneous success had devastating effects on Meyer.

“I think I started with all the right intentions,” he said.  

“But I think it reached a place where I was different during the final stretch after the ’08 national championship, where I pursued perfection to the point where it was just a constant grind and you never shut the phone off.”

Meyer recalled specifically the differences in the way he celebrated winning the championship in 2008, versus the one he and the Gators won in 2006 when the knocked off Ohio State in the BCS title game.

“After the ’06 national championship it was nothing but just enjoyment in that locker room, sitting there with your family,” Meyer said.

“After the ’08 national championship, we celebrated quickly and I remember going into the coaches locker room and locking the door so I could email recruits for an hour.”

Meyer’s assistants were knocking at the door, trying to figure out why he was in there instead of celebrating with his players and coaching.

“It was all about the next one,” Meyer said.

Which is why he walked away from the game just two years later. With his health deteriorating, and his family life nearly nonexistent, Meyer simply had to get away from the game.

“I wanted to go visit some guys I have great respect for,” Meyer said.

“Guys who had a reputation for keeping that family/work balance that we all try to find. Watch how they ran their programs, in case I ever did decide to go back.”

It took Meyer less than a year to realize he needed back in the game, and so far, Meyer hasn’t regretted it for a moment. Especially now that his family is with him in Columbus.

“I’m loving it,” he said.

“Nate went from batting 10th and playing right field to leading off and playing shortstop. He’s still not very big, but he’s doing well. Gigi is my little Tebow and she’s incredible. She wants to be a pro wake boarder and Nicki was Academics All-ACC (at Georgia Tech), so we’re very blessed.”

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