Meyer v. Saban: The Looming Clash

By Kyle Rowland on January 9, 2013 at 10:00a
67 Comments

It’s all over.

The college football season was shuttered on Monday night in underwhelming fashion. For over a month we were told a classic between two titans of the sport, Alabama and Notre Dame, would be played. Instead, it looked like a typical September snoozer – a game between non-conference foes that aren’t evenly matched.

He's smirking because he's owning.

When the fireworks finally stopped booming at Sun Life Stadium, one team was left standing. And, no, it was not the Alabama Crimson Tide. Rather, it was 12-0 Ohio State, the lone undefeated team of the 2012 season. While Alabama won impressively throughout the season, especially in marquee games, when it comes to wins and loss, the Tide can be lumped with 123 other Football Bowl Subdivision teams – those with at least one loss.

“We want to end the season without a loss,” Meyer said during the season.

The Buckeyes did. 

A marked improvement was expected in his first season in Columbus. But undefeated? C’mon. Yeah, there were murmurs about it. Easy schedule and all, winning every single game is anything but easy. You can’t be just good to rattle through a 12-game gauntlet at the Division I level. There has to be luck involved, and the Buckeyes got some, most memorably against Purdue.

“This is the state I grew up in,” Meyer said, referencing Ohio. “This is the state I made a comment on last November, December, whenever it was, that our objective is to make the great state of Ohio proud. I imagine there's a lot of people in this great state very proud of what their football team did, no one else's, this is the state of Ohio's football team.”

So just how improbable was Meyer’s first year back on the job? Very. Eleven times a coach has left a school where he won a national championship and returned to college football, and only one has won another – Nick Saban, who now owns three crystal football in Tuscaloosa. Meyer may not have completed the task yet, but he is well on his way, and the Buckeyes are tracking in the direction to take on their coach’s old nemesis in Saban.

It isn’t easy to win at the highest level of college sports, even more so when you leave something that was humming. But that’s what Meyer and Saban each chose to do. Their landing sports may be extra cushy. Still, history says their accomplishments are nearly unprecedented.

College football is about turnover – coaches, players, seasons. But a constant for the past decade has been the success rate of Meyer and Saban’s teams. Since LSU won the national championship in 2003 with Saban at the helm, he and Meyer have won six titles. Sixty percent! And that doesn’t include two undefeated seasons by Meyer-coached teams that didn’t win the national title.

More, please. 

At the moment, both look like they will be at their current schools for several years. For Meyer, that is a near lock. Saban, on the other hand, could be lured to the NFL, although he says that flirtatious period of his coaching career is over.

Why Meyer and Saban dominate their profession lies in how they operate. It’s not similar to their peers. Plenty of Americans immerse themselves into their jobs, but then there are Meyer and Saban. It quite literally becomes their lives.

“I don’t know if fun’s the appropriate word,” Meyer said. “You don’t have the time to really enjoy it until you have a chance to sit back. When I do, I enjoy it, I guess is more of a proper word. I enjoy being around these players and these coaches and obviously representing Ohio State.”

Breakfast, lunch and dinner all revolve around game planning and gaining an edge on the competition. The thirst for winning a national championship is almost unquenchable. Once it happens, the blueprint is drawn up again almost immediately.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Behind every man, there is a good woman.” Well, a variation of that also exists in the coaching world. It isn’t just the head coach who does everything on his own. They need to hire good assistants. Meyer and Saban have done exactly that.

“I think Ohio State deserves the best group of assistant coaches in America,” said Meyer, after he was hired to lead the Buckeyes.

Despite being a head coach for just 11 seasons, Meyer has already built a coaching tree that could one day grow to be a California Redwood. Charlie Strong, Dan Mullen, Kyle Whittingham, Steve Addazio, Gary Andersen, Tim Beckman and Greg Studrawa are all included. Nick Saban has hired the likes of Will Muschamp, Jimbo Fisher, Jason Garrett, Josh McDaniels, Pat Shurmur, Scott Linehan, Mark Dantonio, Mike Mularkey, Derek Dooley, Jim McElwain and Kirby Smart. 

During his time at Alabama, only McElwain has left for a head coaching job. It’s something that leaves Meyer flabbergasted.

“He doesn’t lose coaches,” Meyer said. “I’m still trying to figure that out. We had that thing going at Florida and it was a turnstyle – head coaches here, head coaches there. How do you not go hire one of those assistant coaches at Alabama?”

The two big-name coaches have met on the field three times, with Saban holding a 2-1 advantage. A fourth meeting in the near future is likely.

The 2014 BCS National Championship Game, the 16th and final BCS Championship before we embrace our playoff destiny, will take place in Pasadena next January. What more could you ask for than a clash between the two men that have come to own the series?

67 Comments

Comments

Bruce's picture

*Goosebumps*

From the 2007 HBO special ---->http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7x_DDPcLo

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Meyer owes Saban a butt kicking from their last encounter. It's coming Nicky.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Dougger's picture

im so excited for football season to start. meyer knows the blueprint. we can see it in his recruiting. If only we could be so lucky to end the streak, at the Rose Bowl. it's like a dream come true - redemption in it's purest form. i think we've got guys on both sides of the ball (roby/shazier, xbrax and el guapo) that are ready to be the vocal leaders for this team. it can't get here soon enough.

I like football

year2's picture

I'm not sure where this idea comes from that Saban's coaching staff at Alabama never changes. Four spots turned over after 2010, and two more turned over after 2011. This year, he's already lost one to FSU.
Yes, it's remarkable that he's been able to keep Smart around, but Smart, the S&C coach, and the running backs coach who you've never heard of are the only coaches from Saban's original Alabama staff still around.

AndyVance's picture

Interesting fact check. Good eye.
Even considering those changes, the relative continuity of his staff would seem to be one major factor in Saban's success during the current "dynasty." Finding, and more importantly keeping, the best coaches in the business has to be a key part of "The Process."

tennbuckeye19's picture

I keep hearing Smart is staying around to take over if and when Saban retires/leaves for the NFL/or is fired amidst rampant NCAA allegations ;)

year2's picture

The general feeling is either that, or he's waiting for Mark Richt to retire to a life of philanthropy and ministry so he can take over at his alma mater.

CC's picture

I've heard that before at Texas (Muschamp), West Virginia (Holgerson) and Florida State (Fischer)

sloopy88's picture

Apropos of nothing, I'm glad you're still around, Year2!  Your commentary has been great and I hope you continue to drop by. 

chitown buckeye's picture

I feel this is an appropiate thread to watch this beauty...

"I'm having a heart attack!"

buckeye76BHop's picture

I tried to find this EVERYWHERE...thanks for finding it.  I remember this from last year around this time....and it still makes me laugh (however....very prophetic if you really think about it;-)
GO BUCKS!

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Codeezy's picture

I second this. My day is so much better now lol.

Poison nuts's picture

Never saw this...that was genius. Bobby Petrino, 'this isn't a car' - wow!

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

justsaybuck's picture

To that ish is too funny.  Good work!

Jsb

Boom777's picture

Bwahahahahahaha! That was hilarious! I like the when the tOSU semi blows the scUM car over!

Wherever you are, there you be!

BuckeyeStrong2's picture

Thank you, as soon as I finshed reading this thread, this is what I was thinking too

20sider's picture

Thanks for sharing... full of so much win!

GO BUCKS!

brumon's picture

Great! who's photoshopped onto catwoman when their dancing?

sloopy88's picture

This is wonderful, and looks like it took a ton of work.  Thanks for posting. 

BuckNut51's picture

That video just made my day! Thank you. If I could up vote you I would.

Lincoln's picture

I often think to myself if there could ever be a better moment than the underdog Bucks knocking off the unbeatable Canes 10 years ago. I used to think that would always be the excitement-peak of my Ohio State fandom.
Not anymore. Urban vs Saban, battle for the National Championship, the whole world watches as our Ohio State Buckeyes end the SEC reign of terror (that he Urban and the Bucks also helped usher in). This I need

spqr2008's picture

That's right.  Saban is the Napoleon to Silve's Robespierre, but without ambitions of taking Silve's spot, yet.  Time for a Waterloo!

cinserious's picture

The SEC's reign of terror represent the 'Darkside' in star wars and Saban is darth vader. The world will witness Urban Skywalker lead the Ohio State Jedis in an attempt to save the galaxy (the rest of America) from the grips of the SEC!

Gone ham, be back soon...

UncleBuck's picture

Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here, tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with 'em. Tonight, we stay with 'em, and we shut them down, because we can! Tonight, we are the greatest football team in the world. You were born to be hockey players—every one of ya. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time—is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearin' about what a great football team the Soviets Tide have. Screw 'em! This is your time!! Now go out there and take it!"
Alabama=Soviet Russia 


 

buckeyedude's picture

I remember that miracle on ice in 1980. That was a bunch of unlikely Americna college hockey playing stars vs. the most dominating future NHL All-Stars(once the USSR collapses and they let Russians play in the NHL). I still get goose bumps thinking about it. That was the biggest upset, EVER. Nothing even comes close. 
The comparison to Meyer vs Saban/OSU vs. Alabama isn't a good one because the 2013 Buckeyes are going to be one very talented team, loaded with future NFL stars, possibly going against a very talented Bama team, loaded with future NFL stars.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

 

 

jarheadbuckeyefan's picture

actually i'd put saban as palpatine, but cast urban as vader, formerly despised and villified but ultimately turns good, perhaps fickell as luke though.

"The only meaningful statistic is number of games won."~ Woody Hayes

buckeye76BHop's picture

It's going to happen barring any series of unfortunate events (injuries or an upset lose).  OSU will play Bama...I'm so glad you wrote this Kyle....bc we should prepare for it now....it's gonna happen.  Let's face it...these two coaches hate each other....it's a mutual respect...yes.  But they hate each other...just look at Urban's face below....it's telling in his facial expression.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

cinserious's picture

Urban is using telepathy to tell Saban "I will annualy ream you"

Gone ham, be back soon...

Poison nuts's picture

I hope not.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Saban may have "The Process", but Meyer has "The Plan". Both similar in nature, focused on relentless solid fundamentals and pure execution. One is a guru of disciplined and ruthless  defensive strategies who believes in straightforward and mistake-free pro-set offensive concepts, while the other is an offensive power spread jujitsu blending guru who understands that great defense is the lynchpin of winning at any level.
Some of us on the board keep looking for the modern version of Bo versus Woody, but maybe what we will get is a modern version of Woody versus Bear in the years to come. Ah, the Yin and the Yang of it......

USMCBUCKEYE82's picture

Major UPVOTE if I could!!!

Citrus's picture

For Ohio State to de-throne 'Bama, what areas need to improve?

I will start with Braxton's throwing and scrambling (all his rushing yards are on designed runs not scrambles when no one is open).

LBs have to step up and be better than serviceable.

Another home run threat has to emerge.

buckeye76BHop's picture

^^^^^Get ready to see a lot of this happening...couldn't agree more with the improvement areas too btw.  But I feel Herman/Meyer know what's needed and it will happen.  As well as an improved Defense (I HOPE). Goodness I can't wait till next year....

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Citrus's picture

One benefit of all the scheduled cupcakes is that Brax should have plenty of time to improve his throwing. It should also minimize the need to for designed QB runs and allow other playmakers to emerge.

Between his offseason with a QB guru, his second year in Urbz system, and the schedule, Brax could be much improved come next bowl season.

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Buckeye76Bhop - You may have just unknowingly helped to coin a new phrase...."Herman Meyer"...which ain't the office furniture manufacturer, but is a twin headed beast of strategic offensive firepower heretofor unheard of in the CFB world! Someone please photoshop what this would look like.

unknownmusketeer's picture

Braxton Miller has always said that he keeps his eyes downfield when he is in the pocket and scrambling. He needs to realize that bigger windows will open up when the defense realizes he is more willing to tuck the ball and run.

tennbuckeye19's picture

What if Bama doesn't make it to the title game next year?

AndyVance's picture

Can you say "anticlimactic??"

tennbuckeye19's picture

Well, you know, Alabama is the gold standard of college football right now and to be the best you have to beat the best and all, but it's not a given that they'll be there next year. 

cinserious's picture

Ill take on Usc (being the rose bowl and everything) or another SEC team. If its not bama, its an sec team that BEAT bama (like A&M). That should feel good enough, but yeah, I'm hoping its saban.

Gone ham, be back soon...

shortbus20's picture

Notre Dame or Oregon will work just as well!!! Equal opportunity and both will bring almost as much pleasure.

  • shortbus20
Codeezy's picture

I would be very surprised to see a title game under the BCS format that didn't include the SEC champion. Even a 2 loss team will be pushed up to the forefront, and why not? Id rather play an SEC team. I trust the staff we have at The Ohio State University and we are only going to get batter.

Ahh Saturday's picture

Clearly there are many similarities between Saban and Urban.  The main difference is that Urban seems to coach because he loves the game, whereas Saban seems to coach because if he didn't he'd spend all his time alone in his basement feeding hamsters to his snakes.

Dougger's picture

or watch the weather channel for longer than 30 minutes

I like football

USMCBUCKEYE82's picture

Damn man you made me spit mt dew all over my macbook!!! 
+1000

jarheadbuckeyefan's picture

Another difference is Urban has a soul. I think they're still trying to prove that Saban once had one, which if true he has obviously sold long ago.

"The only meaningful statistic is number of games won."~ Woody Hayes

AltaBuck's picture

For once the national media will be supporting tOSU in the NC game because this is the match-up everyone wants. Meyer's reputation and track record plus his personal rivalry with Saban supersede the typical Anti-OSU, Anti-B1G bias we have seen these past years, some of which is certainly justified. It won't be about B1G vs SEC, it will be about Meyer vs Saban.

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

cinserious's picture

They'll still talk shit about the big ten and how osu is untested. meanwhile they'll inflate bama and the sec even more. there should be a few storylines.

Gone ham, be back soon...

Bucksfan's picture

To me, it seems like Urban has all sorts of fun.
From his introductory presser:

To bouncing up and down and pointing at you in your living room:

To singing Carmen with some guy in a #5 jersey:

Looks like he's "enjoying" it to me, no matter what he says.

onetwentyeight's picture

Urban belongs here. This is his home. He's one of us. 
 
Saban has no tangible Alabama connection beyond their willingness to bomb his bank account with zeroes. He has no loyalty and no roots to that program. That's why they're always one step away from panicking that he'll jump to the NFL again. 
 
Suffice to say that Urban won't have that issue. 

buckeyedude's picture

I heard Saban has jorts and a mock mullet that he wears around the house while relaxiing. So there's that.

 

 

Haybucks's picture

“I don’t know if fun’s the appropriate word,” Meyer said. “You don’t have the time to really enjoy it until you have a chance to sit back. When I do, I enjoy it, I guess is more of a proper word. I enjoy being around these players and these coaches and obviously representing Ohio State.”
From his quote I would say he is "enjoying" it too.  "Fun" is the word he thought not to be appropriate.

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon
 

Boom777's picture

To be honest I worry that it may take 2 years to be on the level bama is. They are so stacked with depth because Saban has been there a while. Meyer has catching up to do. A couple classes with this high talent and the roster will hopefully be toe to toe with bama. And no other team could take Bama's place if we play in a championship. Because if we win they'll (espn) will just say it wasn't bama or an SEC team, or some b.s like that 

Wherever you are, there you be!

chitown buckeye's picture

I agree, I think 2014 Buckeyes are going to be crazy good. Assuming Braxton sticks around as welll as development of the last two classes. We have a legititmate shot this year but I think we maybe the favorite in 2014.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

20sider's picture

Definitely some validity to this thought (worry). We definitely will not have the depth that 'Bama has, but we may have the same caliber first stringers. I am very excited to see how the team develops in year two!

GO BUCKS!

USMCBUCKEYE82's picture

I couldn't stop thinking about this whole scenario while watching that ace whipping of a national championship. Sometimes screaming at the television this scat wouldn't be happening if tOSU was allowed to be playing in a bowl game. Do I think we would've won the game...no. We would have had a much better of a showing. It is just too bad Simon didn't have one more year of eligibility to put the SimonSmash on McCarron. The same thoughts go for Big Hank as well when stopping the Bama run.
Here is to next year ladies and gents!!!
O-H!!! Make 25-OH come this time next year Buckeyes!!!!!

cinserious's picture

If OSU was in the title game, it would have been against ND and we would have beat the Irish too. Had we played Bama, they prolly woulda won this year. It just goes to show how flawed the current system is and so much of that will get taken care of in '14 with the four team playoff format.

Gone ham, be back soon...

WildBear Buckeye's picture

If OSU was alowed to play in a bowl game, the NC game would have probably been OSU vs ND. There's just no way an undefeated OSU team is kept out of the title game, for any one loss team. This isn't Auburn, it's the team with the most fans in the land (per Nate Silver). And even Auburn was left out for two other undefeated teams.
Now, aside from the very real possibility of watching ND beat OSU for a national title - just kill me know ... for some reason I could handle Bama, but not ND and their insufferable sycophants - I think we all know that an ND-OSU matchup would have actually left the best team out of the title game, tainting the title. Hell, I think Bama AND KSU AND Oregon, and maybe even TAMU and Georgia would have beaten either OSU or ND in a bowl game.
Frankly I'm very happy OSU got the 12-0 record with no threat of a bowl game. This team just wasn't good enough. For example, it wasn't anywhere as good as the 2002 team. It's no knock on Meyer, the rest of the staff, or any of the players. It just takes longer than 9 months (or even less than that, if you consider when Meyer actually had all his assistants in place) to build a team to compete at the highest level, especially after what we saw last year.

onetwentyeight's picture

I personally agree with you but I doubt the voters would have. It's unfair but there's a large contigent that thinks we played nobody and the B1G hasn't done us any favors. Don't get on me - i OBVIOUSLY think we should've been let in. BUT. I'm just stating that, realistically speaking, I doubt the voters wouldve voted us in this year, with this schedule, and this team. It sucks but that's just the way it is. 

bhardy22132's picture

IMO there would have been no real possibility of ND beating us. They had nothing to offer us in threats. They are a subpar running team and that is one thing that we are the best at stopping. They have decent WR's, not great. Our secondary would have had no problem keeping up with them.
Now where I disagree with you is your last paragraph. This Ohio state team WAS good. I would have agreed with you in September but seasons end I have to disagree. This was a good team that was clicking in all areas. No doubt in my mind they could have played against any team in the country.
 
Now he turned this years success with a bunch of players that he didnt even recruit! Just think of what this team will look like next year with kids that already fit his system and are monsters. I think the Buckeye team of this coming year is going to be scary. Right now im telling you that there is a whole bunch of cfb fans/coaches who are not excited about Ohio State being bowl eligible right now.
 
Now as far as the rest of the BIG goes, were they great? Nope. But this years bowl season was very telling for these teams even in defeat. They were game this year against some pretty damn good teams. I think the BIG as a conference is alot better than most people who dont follow the conference think and they are alot closer to these top conferences than most people think. They def. got a little taste of what the BIG brought to the table even in defeat.

JohnnySocko's picture

The ultimate irony is that Urban Meyer started the SEC winning streak (against OSU) in the BCS National Title Game and therefore who better to end it?
The ultimate football redemption?

osubuckeye4life's picture

PREVIEW : #1 Alabama vs #2 Ohio State 

XUBUCK's picture

Indeed, six years ago, a heavily favored BIG school got crushed at the hands of an Urban Meyer led SEC school leading to the current reign of terror.  And as the prophecy goes, balance will be restored when a heavily favored SEC school is crushed by a Urban lead Buckeye squad.
Urban created the monster and he is the only one who can kill it.  

Nick's picture

The depth issue is a factor really on the defensive line (mostly) so I think we will be good to go. We had a great class before Meyer arrived, his first class and now this year .

NJ_BUCKEYE's picture

I'm sorry I didn't have time to read all the comments above, so if I repeat something that has already been said, please excuse me.  I think we will get to see Bama vs. Bucks at some point in the next few years, but that assumes our Bucks can keep improving and elevating their game at the same rate as their talent level up-grades.
I will say that I don't think OSU will be able to compete with Bama from a talent perspective for at least another two years, and by that I mean the end of Braxton's senior year.  IMO 2015 would be the earliest the talent Urban is putting together can realistically be physically developed to the level needed to step on the field feeling good about their chances against Bama.  Obviously 2015 would be the first playoff and it would also be Braxton's senior season, the latter being the biggest factor in the equation that would be very important.  Don't get me wrong I would love to see OSU beat Bama if they got the chance to play them for a title next season, but I would rather pray for another team like Notre Dame to end up in the BCS NCG if OSU makes it, so that there wouldn't be the developmental and experience gap that Bama holds.
I think at least one more year of weight room work, especially for the linemen on both sides of the ball, and the linebackers before the combination of these guys natural athleticism and the mental side for playing top D-1 ball are both present.
GO BUCKS!! Prove me wrong next year!

BeijingBucks's picture

another thing... just think.
We are seeing top 5 recruiting classes... and we are still what, three schollies short for a couple years?  this just gets better and better.
bring the pain, urb bring the pain
IMHO As the Buckeyes go... so will the rep of the B1G.  Look at the SEC they barely even won .500 but they are still the toast of the nation.  
Let's do this!

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton