Football

Why Now Was the Right Time for Urban Meyer

COLUMBUS — Urban Meyer was ready to retire and step down from coaching the Ohio State football program.

There wasn’t necessarily a precise moment when he knew he was ready, but by Monday he had come to terms with his decision.

While his health played a huge part in his overall decision to retire this year, the timing of the early signing date for recruits was what pushed him to make the decision at this time. He didn’t want to leave his future up in the air because it wouldn’t be fair to the recruits who will be able to sign on the early signing day later this month.

“I can’t tell you the exact time…walking off the stadium against our rival in that last game, things started to cross my mind. Going into Indianapolis, started to cross my mind. I wanted to go longer,” Meyer said. “The thing that really started to make things, when recruits started asking me, will you be here for four or five years…recruits I’m very close with.”

Meyer had conversations with senior captain wide receivers Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell, as well as recruits on Monday night to gauge how they would handle it. Athletic director Gene Smith gave him until Tuesday morning to decide.

“I walked into his office this morning and he was sitting at his desk,” Smith said.  “And I stood before him and we looked at each other in the eye and I said it in a different way than I’m going to say it right now. I said, ‘If you want to stop this thing, I’ll pull the plug right now.’ I articulated it a little differently. But at that moment — actually, yesterday I knew.”

Meyer has had constant conversations with Smith throughout the process, beginning earlier in the season. Smith has been fully aware of everything that Meyer has been dealing with, as early as 2014.

The first time Meyer thought about retiring was last season, when he had serious conversations with his doctors about longevity. There were conversations back in 2014 when he had the surgery on his arachnoid cyst. But after fine ‘15 and ‘16 seasons, the problems began to reoccur in 2017.

“More specific was Penn State a year ago. It hit real hard,” Meyer said. “And we have a great medical team that was over the top trying to help me through it. I was on medicine and all that. But we had conversations back then about longevity and the seriousness of it. Because, as they said, it’s not your elbow or your foot. We’re talking about something else.”

With knowing of the challenges the 2017 season brought him, Meyer said that there was another conversation before the season this year about potentially making a head coaching change.

“I met with Gene and I knew that this isn’t something I’m going to do for the next 15 years, 10 years,” he said. “I knew after the experiences I had on the sideline again and in 2014, just dealing with the headaches, that I wanted to do Ohio State right and Gene Smith right.”

In January of last year, Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day had head coaching offers. This also played a role in Meyer’s decision to retire this year. In knowing that he wouldn’t be here much longer, part of the push was to keep Day around.

Meyer said that he feels good about his decision knowing that Ryan Day is taking over. But had Meyer stayed, it would have been a hard job convincing Day to stay at Ohio State in exchange for a head coaching job elsewhere. Without Day in the picture, this decision would have looked a lot different.

“I hired Ryan Day because I thought he was a very good coach,” Meyer said. “I knew he was. He was with me before. What I found out was that he’s far past those thoughts. He’s elite.

“A head coach position, as I’ve learned over the last 17 years, is very complicated. It’s management of people. The one piece of advice I give coaches all the time — and Ryan, I see it with him, and Gene and I have discussed this — this is why I think Gene Smith is as good as there is — you have to have genuine love and care for that student-athlete. And I underline genuine. It can’t be ‘No. 78.’ It can’t be ‘that guy.’ It’s got to be his first name, his last name, where he’s from, his sister, his brother, and what he does after his football career is over.

“Once those players know that you have that genuine love and care for them they’ll move mountains for you. And I saw that with Ryan Day.”

12 Responses

  1. 85-9, 7-0 Vs. TTUN. ( I count the three victories at the beginning of this season as Urban’s) These are not numbers we will simply reproduce with Ryan Day or any other coach in the country. The old adage of “watch out what you wish for because you just may get it” applies to all of the naysayers in Buckeye Nation who have moaned and groaned about Urban Meyer and some decisions he has made, particularly filling his coaching staff with his “friends and relatives”. He is not perfect and I even agree with the fact that his loyalty to certain coaches and players may have hurt us to some extent. Imagine that, loyalty in today’s world!
    I’ll say it again 85-9…7-0.
    Once in a lifetime.

  2. We will miss Urban and probably never again see anyone like him. I absolutely hated the way so many people left him hang out to dry this fall. I wish he and his family the very best. I also think Coach Day will do a very good job and hope he makes some moves to improve the defensive coaching situation.

  3. Being a head coach in a major sport as OSU’s level s more than just a full time job, it’s a constant run at full blast, especially at Urban’s elite level, which to me, looks only up to one, N. Saban. It takes not only physical, but mental and emotional energy and glad to hear that EQ thing as well. To do it for his longevity and his rate of success is amazing, so I can see why with any health issue or any outside factor, that it’s time to slow down or move on! Life’s too short, smell the roses and enjoy life and grow old..and enjoy your family! God bless you, thanks for 7 terrific years and arguably the best 7 years of being a happy OSU FB fan, and that’s coming from a guy that made bets in Jr. High about how Archie would beat that TSUN in those magical years of Woody and Bo!

  4. Interesting that he had a major flare-up in the Penn State game last year and he and his doctors had to work hard to get it under control. That could have contributed to what we saw at Iowa the next week. It is hard enough to lead a team and prepare them every week when you are in great health. When dealing with major health issues, your energy is just not the same. Like the saying goes, try not to judge others until you have walked in their shoes, you never know what all they are dealing with.

  5. He also clearly pointed out when asked towards the end of the press conference that the way he was screwed over by Drake was one of the factors in his decision. I think if the Board had terminated Drake, Urban would have stayed.

  6. Whatever the future holds for Urban Meyer, I hope it holds good health. I suspect if it does, he will coach again somewhere someday. For the moment he seems at peace with his decision. He can enjoy his family and watch his son play baseball, hopefully for many years. Best wishes, Coach!

  7. Only a select few will make it to the NFL. The rest of them will go on to jobs where their degrees will come in pretty handy. Urban not only prepares these kids for the NFL, but also life in the normal working world like the rest of are in.

  8. We’ll miss you coach. We’ll miss you a lot, in many ways. What he’s done here record-wise will probably never be matched.

    Here’s my theory. I think Day has his sights on an NFL job. So after 2-3 years of reasonable success here, he makes the jump. Urban’s had a couple years to relax, maybe he’s back on ESPN. He’s getting itchy again, his head’s been feeling good, he misses coaching, is tired of sharing air time with idiot Desmond Howard. So he comes back to us, gives us another 5-10 years, then he really retires for good. Please don’t wake me from this dream.

  9. He probably realized.that he missed his chance at another NC with Haskins being gone next year and if he stayed, he would have had to fire at least two good friends. The play of the defense under his friends coaching would make anyone want to retire.

  10. We will miss his ability to recruit.
    We will miss his ability to prepare the team for a big game.
    What he leaves behind is a better program for the Players:
    If you work hard,
    If you keep your grades up,
    If you stay out of trouble,
    We will Guarantee you a job.
    Wow, He ought to work in the NCAA.

  11. Urban said it so well when he spoke about the genuine love and caring for his players, such a deep and profound insight that seems so easy to accomplish but is in reality not all that easy, We have been blessed to watch this master work his magic and for that I am thankful and wish him all the best!

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