Before I begin writing this I need to issue a disclaimer. As I have mentioned before in previous posts, I was not always a fan of Urban Meyer. In fact I internally begged the Ohio State Athletic Department to hire one of many potential suitors not named Urban Meyer. I went to bed every night for weeks asking the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman and whoever else would listen to grant my wish and keep Urban Meyer away from the football program that I so dearly loved.
Since then, I've done a complete 180 and finally came to my senses. There was no better man for the job and I am happy to call him "my" head football coach. With that said...
"The Mystique of Meyer"
Since first setting foot on Ohio State's campus, has he done anything wrong? Urban F. Meyer was a tremendous influence to the sport of collegiate football for many years before donning the Scarlet and Grey. But I'm writing this to focus on what he has done since November 28th, 2011. And since that day, it is difficult to answer my initial question with any response other than, "Well no, I don't think so!"
Even before his welcoming press conference, UFM was on the phone with potential assistant coaches. He knew that this program needed speed and conditioning so he brought in Mickey Marotti. He knew how important it was to have a national recruiting footprint, so he brought in Tom Herman (Texas) and Everett Withers (Carolinas and Georgia). He knew how paramount it was to the loyal Buckeye fan base to respect the current coaching staff. Therefore he kept Luke Fickell, Stan Drayton, and Mike Vrabel on his staff. His continued knowledge of big-name recruits meant that there was no "learning curve" and he immediately started to bring in big names and flipped quite a few future stars.
And much of this started happening even before he was publicly announced as our coach.
His welcoming speech was elegant. He made sure to mention his love and respect for the state of Ohio and this football program. He mentioned the support from his family. And maybe most importantly he made it very clear that the product that he put on the field would be excellent - something that would "make the great state of Ohio proud."
To this point, he'd done nothing wrong.
Then came the spring game, spring camp, and ESPN Training Days. What an incredible glimpse into the world of Urban Meyer!!! He proved that he pushes his players, connects with his players, and that he is intensely in love with the sport of football. The Training Days special was even compelling enough to turn hard-nosed critics like Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless into UFM fans. He even provided me with my favorite UFM quote (that I now use as part of my 11W signature, below).
Leading up into the fall he started a new tradition called Fan Appreciation Day where, for the first time in my memory, the OSU students had nearly unlimited access to a team that previously seemed restricted to a few moments at Skull Session. UFM created a connection that had never before even been attempted at this university. Plus, he gave us images like this one:
And still, he'd done nothing wrong.
Fast forward to the fall. Ohio State was winning football games in a much different way than the general spectator was accustomed to. This speedy offensive juggernaut was a breath of fresh air. But Meyer kept everything in check with his addresses to the media. He said all the right things, being sure to compliment players on effort and leadership and downplay the hype. His often repeated "Did you push yourself to be the best today?" quote resonated into the minds of every devoted fan. He constantly pushed his players and never settled for anything. He was relentless - always asking his players and coaches if they did their job as well as Alabama did. The mindset was clear to everyone: this program was going to be the best in the country or it would be considered an unsuccessful year.
After the close game at Michigan State a story was unveiled about the pregame toast that brought the team together. Meyer's speech to his players, asking them to "rip open your chests and give your heart to your coaches" sealed the teams unity. At that point everyone had bought into the program, they believed in themselves, and they loved their coach.
The Buckeyes won many close games throughout the season, many of which brought up doubt in the hearts of the Buckeye hopeful. But, just like the players, the fans had started to believe. During every game fans could peer towards the sidelines and find the trademark white windbreaker and feel something that wasn't there in 2011: trust. Buckeye fans trusted that the man on the sidelines calling the shots would steer this team toward victory. Meyer symbolized hope for a team that didn't have an opportunity to play in a bowl game. And still, his inspirational leadership caused 106,000 fans and every player in a uniform to believe that they were champions.
Urban Meyer did nothing wrong.
The Buckeyes went undefeated in 2012, as all of you know. They provided one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. All along the way, UFM made sure that the fans were engaged with moments like this.
He showed us that there was no doubt that he was as much in love with this University as we were. After beating TTUN the feeling that Buckeye fans had for Urban Meyer can only be described as an infatuation. We fell in love with our football coach. And the light on the horizon shined even brighter.
Urban capped off his first full year by bringing in what some consider the best recruiting class in the country. He flipped players away from many big-name programs. Speeches from many new commitments on signing day proved that these young men felt that they could go to Ohio State and win a National Championship.
Meyer loved his players from 2012, particularly his seniors. He made sure that they were celebrated with a huge memorial in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and "12-0" Leaders Division Champion rings. It showed us that Urban Meyer cared about the success of his team and wanted to remind the players of their successes every time they showed up for practice.
Urban Meyer took the head coaching position with high expectations and respect for the program, school, and state. He hired an incomparable staff, whipped the Buckeyes into shape, and convinced them to trust in the program. Meyer got the students involved with the team, inspired hope in the fans with his passion and poise, and brought a certain "mystique" to this team that wasn't there before. He didn't lose a single game.
So you tell me, has he done anything wrong?