COLUMBUS, OH – The day’s activities at the Ohio State coaching clinic had come to a conclusion. Attendees were filing out of the building, including this reporter who had just listened to a presentation by OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson.
The sun had long set and the man-door at the west end of the indoor practice field led to a dimly lit parking lot. As I made my way to the car I noticed a rather big, burly-looking guy walking to my right, also headed to the lot. He had the definite look of a football coach.
“Nice night,” I said making idle chit-chat on the way to the car. “Yeah, it is mate,” he said with an accent that at first I thought was Australian.
I was off by a few thousand miles.
“I’m not from around here, is it usually this pleasant this time of year,” he said.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“Manchester, England,” the big guy said. “Can you tell me how to get to Orangutan road, or whatever it’s called?”
His name was Ed Miller and he had made the journey from Manchester for the sole purpose of attending the OSU coaching clinic. After determining he was really looking for Olentangy River Road and giving him directions we continued to chat.
This year’s clinic was headlined by super-bowl winning NFL Head Coach Bill Belichick, and of course, Urban Meyer. When asked if Belichick and Meyer were what drew him to the event, Miller did not give the expected answer.
“I’m not much on the NFL,” he said. “I’m only interested in college football.”
Surely, then, it was the chance to hear Meyer that had drawn him across an ocean.
“No, not really,” he said.
So what brings a football coach from England over 3,000 miles?
“I coach defensive line,” said Miller, “I came to hear Larry Johnson.”
Miller had just finished listening to Johnson make a presentation as one of the featured speakers at the clinic, and he was thrilled to have been in attendance.
“I coach defensive line and I consider him to be one of the greatest coaches in the world at that position,” Miller said. “He’s really why I chose to come to this camp.
“Tonight I learned so much about technique and playing the position. It was fantastic.”
Worth the time and cost of a trans-Atlantic trip?
“To hear Coach Johnson, yes definitely,” he said, “but I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and being able to watch practice.”
Next fall when you see Larry Johnson on the OSU sideline coaching his defensive line, remember not to take the experience for granted. Some people people go a long, long way to see that happen because he really is one of the best anywhere at what he does.