Meyer will not coach in col­lege again — be­lieve it

The Beaufort Gazette - - Sports - BY RALPH D. RUSSO

Af­ter lead­ing Utah to an un­beaten sea­son in 2004, Ur­ban Meyer had a choice to make. He could be­come the coach at Notre Dame – a dream job, he once called it – or he could be head coach at Flor­ida.

Meyer picked Flor­ida be­cause the Ga­tors were bet­ter po­si­tioned to win na­tional cham­pi­onships. He won two with the Ga­tors.

Af­ter a year out of coach­ing, the Ohio State job opened – an­other dream job for the Ohio na­tive who grew up a Buck­eyes fan. He stepped into that gig, won an­other na­tional cham­pi­onship and went 82-9 over seven sea­sons be­fore an­nounc­ing on Tues­day he would re­tire at 54 af­ter coach­ing the Buck­eyes in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

“I be­lieve I will not coach again,” Meyer said.

Here is why you should be­lieve him: Meyer’s ca­reer has been a steady as­cent, from Bowl­ing Green for two years to Utah for two years to Flor­ida for six years to Ohio State. Each job has been bet­ter than the one be­fore it.

Fans, sports writ­ers and talk­ers love to de­bate about whether this coach­ing job is bet­ter than that job. Why would a coach leave this school for that school? Not every coach fits per­fectly into every sit­u­a­tion, though Meyer could prob­a­bly fit any­where. But he will never find a bet­ter fit than Ohio State be­cause there is no bet­ter col­lege job than Ohio State. And noth­ing about Meyer sug­gests he would be will­ing to ac­cept any­thing less.

Among all the tra­di­tional pow­ers, none has been bet­ter at main­tain­ing a high level of suc­cess than Ohio State. Since 1960, Ohio State has had two los­ing sea­sons. Since 1993, Ohio State has 19 10-win sea­sons. Be­fore Nick Sa­ban, Alabama was down. Ok­la­homa had its dark days be­tween Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops. South­ern Cal­i­for­nia pre- and post-Pete Car­roll has strug­gled to find the right for­mula. Notre Dame be­tween Lou Holtz and Brian Kelly was a mess.

Ohio State’s last four full-time head coaches – Jim Tres­sel, John Cooper, Earle Bruce and Woody Hayes – are all in the Col­lege Foot­ball Hall of Fame. This bodes well for Ryan Day, the

39-year-old first-time head coach.

Day’s big­gest chal­lenge is not screw­ing up a good thing.

“Start­ing a pro­gram and fix­ing some­thing that’s strug­gling is much eas­ier to me than main­tain­ing,” said Mack Brown, who at

67 is re­turn­ing to coach­ing with North Carolina af­ter

16 years as Texas coach. “When we won 10 games at Texas it wasn’t enough.”

For Brown and new Kansas coach and for­mer LSU coach Les Miles, two for­mer na­tional cham­pi­ons in their 60s, just get­ting back in the game was enough. They both seem to wel­come the lower ex­pec­ta­tions. When Steve Spurrier re­turned to col­lege foot­ball from a failed stint in the NFL he landed at South Carolina and was thrilled to – as he would so of­ten say – ac­com­plish things that had never been done be­fore at the school. Game­cocks fans were giddy about the 10-win sea­sons Flor­ida fans were com­plain­ing about at the end of Spurrier’s time there.

A se­cond-tier job with less pres­sure could be just what Meyer needs to con­tinue coach­ing with the cyst on his brain that causes se­vere headaches and makes it dif­fi­cult for an emo­tional guy to do a high-stress job.

“The style of coach­ing I’ve done for 33 years is very in­tense, very de­mand­ing. I tried to del­e­gate more and CEO more and the prod­uct started to feel … I didn’t feel I was do­ing right by our play­ers and by (ath­letic di­rec­tor) Gene (Smith),” Meyer said.

Now try to pic­ture Meyer do­ing some­thing even re­motely sim­i­lar to

MEYER’S CA­REER HAS BEEN A STEADY AS­CENT. EACH JOB HAS BEEN BET­TER THAN THE ONE BE­FORE IT.

what Brown and Miles have taken on. Ur­ban Meyer, Illinois coach. North Carolina State coach Ur­ban Meyer. Not hap­pen­ing. Only a school with le­git­i­mate na­tional cham­pi­onship as­pi­ra­tions could en­tice Meyer. That list is short. Even shorter is the list of schools that could al­low him to have any­thing close to Ohio Statelevel suc­cess.

Notre Dame? Meyer al­ready knows the lim­i­ta­tions in South Bend that kept him away the first time.

USC? South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s pen­chant for hir­ing celebrity ath­letic di­rec­tors doesn’t seem con­ducive to lur­ing a coach who has be­come ac­cus­tomed to sta­ble ad­min­is­tra­tive lead­er­ship.

A lot of things would also have to fall into place for one of those few elite jobs to open just as Meyer is get­ting the itch to coach again, as­sum­ing he does. Think of ev­ery­thing that had to hap­pen for Meyer to end up at Ohio State. What are the chances some­thing like that could hap­pen again?

Coaches coach and of­ten do so well past re­tire­ment age. Meyer is 11 years away from that so of course it is easy to ex­pect him back on the side­line again. But to do so Meyer would have to take a step back.

JAY LAPRETE AP

Ohio State coach Ur­ban Meyer has al­ways moved up to big­ger and bet­ter jobs, but if he were to get back into coach­ing, what job would be big­ger and bet­ter than Ohio State?

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