Ohio State finally smartened up.
After making the mistake of not firing Urban Meyer and Athletic Director Gene Smith back in August for lying and totally mishandling the domestic abuse situation with a former coach, the school decided to make Tuesday more about their new head coach, and less about their old one.
“I’m honored to have represented my home state and this great university the past seven seasons,” said Meyer in a brief statement he gave on Tuesday afternoon during a press conference that officially announced his retirement and the promotion of offensive coordinator Ryan Day.
“I want to thank Buckeye Nation, our students, and faculty. Our high school coaches. Gene Smith for giving me this opportunity. My awesome family. And most importantly, my staff and student-athletes for all that they’ve done during this time. My goal has always been to make this one of the premiere and most comprehensive programs in America. It’s always been the goal to see a healthy and strong program handed to an elite coach and person to make it even better. And I wanted to congratulate Ryan Day and his family.
“We have worked extremely hard to make the great state of Ohio, the university community, including our alumni and former players, and Buckeye Nation very proud. I look forward to working with our staff and players in preparing to play Washington in the Rose Bowl. It’s always been a dream of mine, and many of our coaches and players to compete in the Rose Bowl, and it’s going to be an honor to represent the Big Ten Conference in that game.
“Thank you very much.”
While much of the day was deliberately focused on Day, the most interesting takeaway from the press conference was that Meyer was only asked one question about whether the three-game suspension from earlier in the season had anything to do with his retirement.
“I’ve addressed that at several different times,” said Meyer as he sidestepped the inquiry.
“The decision was a result of cumulative events, health number one. The fact that we have an elite coach on our staff. The fact that our program is very healthy. We’ve recruited very well. All played a significant role in this. I can’t say ‘this’ is the reason or ‘this’ is the reason. But there are cumulative reasons why we’re at this point.”
Translation: It’s been a helluva year, and it’s time for me to go.
In the end, the cyst on Meyer’s brain wound up being the determining factor as he chose his health over coaching.
“He wants to coach. But physically he can’t coach. He can’t do this anymore,” said former Buckeye great and close friend, Cris Carter on Tuesday morning’s edition of First Things First on FS1.
“It’s been well documented as far as the cyst on his brain. When he gets agitated or upset. When he gets in coaching mode, it becomes very, to almost impossible for him to coach because the cyst begins to leak fluid which leads to, not a migraine headache, but a splitting headache.”
From the moment Meyer burst on the scene at Bowling Green, you could tell that there was something different about him. And as we’ve spent time looking back at his career on the sidelines, you could easily make the case that he’s one of the five greatest college football coaches in the history of the game.
Meyer was 17-6 at Bowling Green, 22-2 at Utah, 65-15 at Florida, and 82-9 at Ohio State.
And despite the three national titles he’s won and the outrageous number of talented players he’s recruited over the years and sent to the NFL, there are three things that Meyer has accomplished on the field that will always stick with me.
· He turned Utah into a national power.
· His genius on the offensive side of the ball when it came to spread concepts and personnel.
· The fact that he made a historic program like Ohio State even better by going undefeated against his biggest rival (Michigan) in arguably the greatest rivalry in sports.
As Meyer walks away from the game, only history knows how he’ll be remembered. To some, he’ll be thought of as a great coach. While others will more than likely think of him as a flawed legend.
I’ll look at him from both vantage points.
To me, he’ll always be a liar and a domestic abuse enabler that still hasn’t properly publicly apologized for his actions.
But he’s also one of the best I’ve ever seen do it.
In the end, Urban Meyer’s legacy will be determined by how sports and society handles this moment.
Because when we look back on it, how people feel about Meyer will say more about them than it ever will about him.