Meyer will not coach in col­lege again — be­lieve it

The Island Packet - - Sports - BY RALPH D. RUSSO As­so­ci­ated Press

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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