Meyer Has Players Thinking About Life After Football

By Kyle Rowland on July 10, 2013 at 9:30a
Always be planning.

When college football coaches aren’t coaching, they become salesmen. Preaching the positive nature of the program to boosters, recruits and the media is all part of the job.

Walking into living rooms is not all about football. Parents want a father figure who can watch over their sons for the next four years, and while the NFL is the light at the end of the tunnel, a minute percentage actually accomplish that mammoth target. That brings academics into the equation. A prestigious degree combined with a football playing past often leads to employment.

At Ohio State, Urban Meyer is making sure that’s the case. He’s started a series of events called “Real Life Wednesdays” that culminates with a first of its kind job fair that invites major companies to campus to meet with football players and student-athletes from all 36 varsity sports.

A full Ohio Stadium is a familiar sight, but not in the summer and certainly not with scores of people wearing suits, ties and dresses. But on June 20, that scenario came to fruition – much to the delight of Meyer. The athletes came armed not with playbooks but binders full of resumes.  

“I was easily excited about the program,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told Eleven Warriors. “It is consistent with all of the life skills programming we implemented with all of our student-athletes: etiquette training, financial literacy, apartment shopping and lease management, etc.

“I knew it would be successful because there are numerous Buckeyes willing to assist our student-athletes with improving their interviewing skills.”

Nearly 60 businesses – and Ohio governor John Kasich – were represented at the first-ever Ohio State student-athlete job fair at the Horseshoe. And they weren’t your mom and pop store on Main Street. Heavy hitters such as Nike, ESPN, Big Ten Network, IMG, Wal-Mart, the FBI, Kroger, State Farm Insurance and Columbus-based Limited Brands, Cardinal Health, Bob Evans, Net Jets and the Columbus Zoo were present, among other regional, national and worldwide entities.

All who attended – athletes, business leaders and coaches – were impressed, including Vice President of NFL Player Engagement Troy Vincent, who starred in the league for 15 years after being a standout at Wisconsin.

The NCAA is heavily criticized, and rightfully so 99 percent of the time. The tagline “there are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and most of us will go pro in something other than sports” might be the biggest truism when it comes to the bloated, bungling organization.

Athletes come in all shapes and sizes, but the most common trait is perfection. Competition fuels them, which carries over into the workplace. For the Buckeyes who participated in the job fair, it was an eye-opening experience that let them take a brief look at a different world.

“This was real life and this was great,” junior defensive tackle Joel Hale said. “I have ideas now about how I want to prepare myself, and I’ve got a list of key contacts that I will email a ‘thank you’ to tomorrow and possibly reconnect with once I graduate.”

The buildup to the job fair began more than three months ago when the football team listened to a different speaker every week. They ranged from Limited chairman Les Wexner, to retired FBI Special Agent Harry Trombitas, to 1993 Indiana Mr. Basketball Kojak Fuller, who fathered three children before he graduated high school and later spent nearly a decade in prison. Each delivered different messages with the central theme spotlighting the importance of college and making the right decisions for the future.

Family, job interviews and parenting were all discussed, and numerous former Buckeyes were part of the process: Clark Kellogg (CBS), Chris Spielman (ESPN), Ryan Miller (M2Marketing), Mike Doss (DePuy Orthopedics), Dee Miller (State Farm) and Jeff Logan (McCloy Financial Services) spoke to the team about how their careers shaped their post-playing lives.

“This really shows how much Coach Meyer and this football staff care about us and our life and careers after football.” 

It’s a lot different than making a read on a coverage, getting separation from a defender or kicking a field goal. But at the same time, the similarities are striking, namely preparation. No matter the task, preparing and executing is essential.

“Every football player had to have a new resume,” coordinator of player development Ryan Stamper said. “Every player learned about resumes and key components of them, and then our staff, support services staff and academic advisors helped each one update their existing resume or create a new one.

“And every one of our players, including freshmen, had to have a list going into the job fair of four business areas or interests that they would like to speak with reps about and learn about.”

Stamper, a two-time captain at Florida and a member of the Gators’ 2008 national title team, was put in charge of helping organize the “Real Life Wednesdays” sessions. Meyer operated a condensed version in Gainesville.

“Over the years we have continued to improve what we do to help our student-athletes be the best they can be academically, and athletically,” Smith said. “That focus, coupled with initiatives to develop the whole person has helped us create a culture where everyone understands what is most important. We are proud our graduation rate has risen from 62 percent (in 2005) to 81 percent and all our teams are doing outstanding with their APR scores. Increasing the number of student-athletes receiving post graduate scholarships, the study abroad program and Bucks Go Pro initiative are just a few of the most recent efforts. But having an individual academic game plan for each student-athlete that we started in 2006 was the most critical.”

Said Marcus Hall, a senior offensive lineman: “This really shows how much Coach Meyer and this football staff care about us and our life and careers after football.”

Senior center Corey Linsley, an economics major, sought out Miller, who is an entrepreneur. Linsley would like to use his degree to get into investing, financial advising or banking. But he’s also interested in starting a business.

“No one in the country does this,” he said. “This is a revolutionary idea. No one thought to do it. It’s an awesome idea and a credit to Coach Meyer. It’s awesome to see how the program is going in that area. Coach Meyer has done a great job of connecting academics and football.”

Many of the student-athletes don’t have the same ability as other students at the university to obtain internships and summer jobs. Athletics in the Big Ten is not just something fun to do. It becomes all-consuming, sometimes fraying the boundary of where the student and athlete coexist.

“The coaches want us to succeed after football, and that’s the big question mark for us. ‘What is after football?’” senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said. “The speakers we’ve heard and the people we’ve spoken to tonight have given us real insight into the opportunities and careers we can strive for.”

The process begins with a head coach sitting on the couch in the living room promising parents he’ll watch over their son. Playing time might not be guaranteed, but a college degree from Ohio State can be had. For those going pro in something other than sports, it’s a piece of paper that carries much more value than a multi-million dollar NFL contract.


Comments Show All Comments

cinserious's picture

“No one in the country does this,” he said. “This is a revolutionary idea. No one thought to do it. It’s an awesome idea and a credit to Coach Meyer. It’s awesome to see how the program is going in that area. Coach Meyer has done a great job of connecting academics and football.”

This statement by Cory Linsley could be applied to numerous ideas Urban Meyer and his staff brought with him to advance the Buckeye program. I also like Marcus Hall's comment about how much it shows Urban cares about these individuals beyond the football field. He really sets himself apart from the head coaches of other major football teams in the country and the parents of these recruits really take note.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Hovenaut's picture

Great point Cin....Meyer may not be able to steer every young man to knowing, staying on the right path. But it's great that he is putting forth the effort off the football field, despite what the media might say.

avail31678's picture

But this is totally inconsistent with the fact that Urban Meyer is a win-at-atll-costs coach who doesn't care enough about his kids to mentor them - i.e. Aaron Hernandez.
Seriously, this is great.  I think Urban is doing his "second round" of coaching right.  He's still recruiting like mad, he's still winning, but he's somehow doing MORE (with his family, and with his players, and with the fans and community).

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Awesome to hear!!!  What a fantastic program to implement and another great tool to help young recruits decide why OSU is the better choice!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

shade98's picture

ESPN and Clay Travis didn't cover this story? 

tennbuckeye19's picture

Thanks for sharing this story with us Kyle. What an excellent program for everyone involved. I have heard for years that in Columbus if you keep your nose clean and have 'former Ohio State football player' on your resume that somebody would hire you. And while to a degree that might be true, programs like this are a perfect way to set a kid up for their future off the field and away from OSU.

Grayskullsession's picture

ESPN Headline:

"Meyer Has Players Thinking About A LIFE OF CRIME and DRUGS AFTER FOOTBALL"

"if irony were made of strawberries, we' d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now."

southernstatesbuckeye's picture

Wow.  What a great thing to be doing for these kids.  You would have thought that somewhere, somebody in the college arena would have thought about this.  I'm stunned that this is not happening anywhere else.
This only adds to "good" side of the scale for Coach Meyer in the face of all the "bad" things some of these media clowns want to heap on him.
And please, get here quickly, August 31.

I like cookies.

MN Buckeye's picture

These are life and career skills critical for all college students.  Athletes have such limited opportunities for jobs and internships that this remarkable program will be great for them!  Also, I give Urban credit for bringing in the right people to run the program; he can remain the visionary without having to micromanage the whole thing.

GABuckeye's picture

"These are life and career skills critical for all college students."
I couldn't agree more.  Instead of requiring college students to take a BS art class that they have zero interest in, why not make kids take a life skills class?  Learn about useful stuff like insurance, buying/renting a home, paying bills, 401k and investment options, etc.  I know and have seen so many people that are completely clueless about many of these things.

BuckeyeFreak4844's picture

Outstanding but this will not be covered on anything but OSU sites unfortunately.  It should be a standard that other schools should try and duplicate.

Michigan Sucks!

osubuck57's picture

Would not surprise me at all if other coaches contacted Urban or OSU for implementation of similar programs at other universities. Ground breaking stuff right here!! Kudos to Urban and his staff for putting this program in place.


Firmthyfriendship's picture

You can't control what others say, only what you do, and I like what Urban is doing on and off the field. Eventually, the liars will have to throw up their arms and say, "Alright, I was wrong about him." I doubt they would have the humility to do that so they'll just have to look like foolish stubborn asses to keep up this tomfoolery. Now, it will be up to the hearers of these seminars/sessions to do the things they are taught...not up to the speakers/teachers and coaches. At some point you are going to have to take control and own your choices good or bad, but man is it good to see The Ohio State University do what they can to lay the foundation for them.

buckeye92's picture

I can only imagine this program will grow exponentially.  tOSU alumni, business leaders and former players, I believe would jump at a chance to meet players and give back to the university.  
Congrats to Coach Meyer and everyone involved in getting this program off the ground!

Denny's picture

How many car dealerships and real estate companies showed up to this job fair


Michibuck's picture

Way to go Urban. By the way, Happy Birthday.

NC_Buckeye's picture

About 2 years ago (more or less) a charter bus driver here in Raleigh crashed his bus on an I-40 exit ramp. He was killed in the accident. The driver, Lorenzo Charles, was a member of the 1983 NC State Wolfpack basketball team. The same one that won an NCAA championship. (Charles was the guy who actually slam-dunked the game winner.) And he was driving a bus.
I remember thinking at the time that I'd be ashamed if a member of any Ohio State team was a bus driver, or ditch digger, or whatever. That's why my blue-collar parents sent me and my siblings to college... so we'd have a career and some stability. And that's what should be on every Buckeye athlete's mind while attending classes. "What am I doing to prepare for life after my playing career is over."
Anyways, I'm very glad that Meyer is doing this. We're lucky to have him at tOSU and the players are lucky to have him as a coach.

unholy bucknut's picture

This is top notch stuff to do for our student athletes. Really shows he cares.

63tinman's picture

UFM is nothing short of an inspiration.  There's an old poem about pulling your fist out of a bucket of water, and realizing that the hole that is left is a measure of how much you will be missed when you're gone.  It's a cautionary tale of thinking you may be irreplaceable.
Urban is working in a bucket filled with something much different than water.  He's fixin' to leave a hole, Jack! The potential cumulative impact on the lives of these young men and women, not to mention the quality of life for their future families, with this program is awesome.  Rather than simply marveling at this force for good that is Urban and tOSU, perhaps we should all examine how the hole we each leave behind may be enlarged through positive action, ourselves. 
Do not be afraid to set a standard for your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc... Refuse to tacitly endorse mediocrity. A fantastic cumulative affect can begin to snowball with each of us.  We can all interact with kids needing guidance. Face it, most are not athletes in a position to reap the benefit of this great program. Most do not even have benefit of a college education. That does not reduce, but rather exponentially increases their need for life skills and guidance.  Guide them.
What if this was expanded throughout the community? Change the future for children near you through guidance and mentoring instead of feigning success by lowering standards or making excuses as to why there is no wonder little Brady turned out that way.  As long as there is free will, not all will be free. Some children (and adults) will still become prisoners of their own poor choices, but this type of exposure to options, expectations and mentoring can turn the tide for great numbers of impressionable youngsters.
Rather than bemoan what could have been had I realized the benefit of such guidance, this inspires me to use myself as a vessel for positive change and encouragement in the lives of those children I am in a position to influence.  I may still only pull my fist out of that bucket of water and leave no hole to be remembered, but I can sure try to make a few ripples along the way.

MAVBuck's picture

Another display of loyalty and family in the buckeye nation. You hear so many stories of how athletes fall on hard times when competition is done & this is a great step to fix the problem. This speaks volumes to Urban and OSU overall. Hopefully other schools catch on and implement the same process.