Meyer says 2012 Buckeyes Transformed From Awful to Unbeaten

By Kyle Rowland on April 11, 2014 at 3:36p

Ohio’s long shared a rich history and influence on the sport of football.

The NFL’s first league offices were in Columbus; legendary head coach Paul Brown won championships at Massillon, Ohio State and with the Cleveland Browns, and founded the Browns and Cincinnati Bengals; the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton; and, of course, Ohio State receives nonstop attention from adoring fans.

Football is the state’s pastime.

With that in mind, Urban Meyer decided the annual high school football coaches clinic at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center should be a tribute to the “Great State of Ohio Football.”

“I started thinking about the great state of Ohio, and I think people sometimes forget that Ohio is the birthplace of football,” Meyer said.

Over two days, Paul Brown and Larry Kehres were honored and Marvin Lewis and Mike Pettine spoke to hundreds of Ohio high school coaches.

Said Kerry Coombs: “My dad played high school football in Ohio, I played little league, high school and college football in Ohio. Every day that I have coached at the high school or college level has been in Ohio. Everything I have and everything I am, I owe to the men who coached football in Ohio.”


  • Meyer spoke for about 30 minutes, providing details on leadership, values and team management. A bulk of his speech centered on his Ohio State tenure and how he’s revamped the culture inside the locker room.
  • “I’ve always believed in leadership, but never quite understood it,” Meyer said. “I thought leadership was a quote from Winston Churchill that you slapped on a wall and by osmosis it permeated through the team. I was guilty then. I made tactical errors through the years.”
  • Meyer: “When you really think about our jobs, leadership is key. …If you’re a blame, complain and defend guy, you have a serious problem within your team.”
  • On the 2011 Ohio State season: “Ohio State was 6-7. Ohio State lost seven games, think about that. Was it because of bad players? Hell no. Was it because of bad coaches? Heavens no. All those coaches won a national championship. We have great football coaches. So what was the problem? After being here for a couple years I know exactly what the problem was. It’s called leadership on that team. I witnessed it. At my first team meeting, is guys didn’t show up, so I gave them a chance to come back the next morning. Four or five of them showed up five minutes late. Got a little problem, don’t we? We can fix it. We jogged out that morning at 5 a.m. in 10-degree weather and had a little chat. We ran a couple people out of here because they didn’t need to be here. But I wanted to see who was going to make a commitment to be part of the team, and I wanted to find out who would be the leaders of the team.”
  • On Zach Boren: “One of our great leaders ended up being Zach Boren. That day Zach Boren was screaming, 'You guys can’t break us!' First off all, we can break his ass in about four minutes. I got a whistle around my neck. You want me to break you, I can break you. That’s not the intent. That’s just the mentality going around the older players on that team. I whispered in his ear, “Zach, don’t say that, because if we wanted to break you, you’re broken. We need to develop guys who can pull this team together.”
  • “I walked in front of the podium deep in my gut knowing we’re horrible,” Meyer said, referring to the 2012 season-opener against Miami. “We had a horrible football team, but I couldn’t tell the media that, I couldn’t tell the public, ‘Oh, by the way, we’re God awful. We have a major problem at Ohio State.’ So we kept working and kept working.”
  • Meyer on his thoughts after the UAB game: “I accepted the fact that we were a bad football team, we’re looking at a 6-6 season and I’m going to go recruit my guys to get those guys the hell out of here. I was at Ohio State in 1986 and ’87, and that was not what I was used to.”
  • The end of the story is known: Ohio State went undefeated because of “some of the best leaders I’ve ever been around,” according to Meyer. Boren, John Simon, Etienne Sabino and Garrett Goebel were “undervalued” in Meyer’s eyes.
  • Meyer said Philly Brown was one of the biggest anti-establishment players he’s ever coached. But Brown developed into one of the top leaders on the 2013 team.   
  • “There’s no way we win 24 straight without what happened that day,” Meyer said about meeting motivation speaker Tim Kight, the brains behind E+R=O.
  • On playing for the national championship last season: “Quite honestly, I don’t think we were ready. We weren’t good enough on defense. You can’t play defense the way we did. You have to fix it. You don’t blame people, you go fix it. And, by the way, you can’t fix it in one day. Not when it’s some deep-rooted stuff. ”
  • On Ohio State’s culture of four to six seconds, point A to point B: “You either adhere to that culture, or you got to go. You won’t be involved anymore.”
  • Meyer said he now calls assistant coaches unit leaders. “Anyone can coach, who can lead?” he said.
  • When Christian Bryant broke his leg, Meyer said he knew Ohio State’s national championship hopes could be dashed. He thought the Buckeyes had a championship offense, but thought the defense would have to overcome adversity.
  • “Our objective at Ohio State is to beat That Team Up North, get to the Rose Bowl and win a national championship,” Meyer said. “Tough job description, but we all selected to come here.”
  • Meyer said if all nine units are in sync and have great leaders, Ohio State shouldn’t lose this season. 

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buckeyestu's picture

I have been a Urban Meyer fan since his days at Bowling Green, and I always hoped he would one day become the coach of TOSU.

+3 HS
OfficerRabbit's picture

I love the guy now, but he had me ready to take a bath with my toaster after that fateful night in 06'. Winning a NC would certainly go a long way in erasing that from my memory.



+11 HS
CGroverL's picture

I'm looking at it right here Mrs. Bueller....NINE TIMES. Well, we have 9 units. If we need all nine, let's get 'em Buckeyes....I want to see a National Championship every season but this season is our last with Braxton Miller. I really figured that the Buckeyes would get a title in the Miller/Meyer years and this is the 3rd and final shot.

There is always a shot and if we need nine units to be perfect and "in sync", let's be perfect and bring the Coaches Trophy back to Columbus...For now though, let's just go out and put on a good show for our final spring practice. BELIEVE!!! Go Bucks!

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



+3 HS
doodah_man's picture

Urban is very popular. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

+9 HS
FitzBuck's picture


Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+3 HS
AndyVance's picture

Everything rises and falls on leadership. Great insights into the mind of a master motivator.

+4 HS
BroJim's picture

Amazing and powerful! I wish I could have been there.

I season my simple food with hunger

+1 HS
jedkat's picture

That day Zach Boren was screaming, “You guys can’t break us!” First off all, we can break his ass in about four minutes. I got a whistle around my neck. You want me to break you, I can break you. 

f'n brilliant.

"Can we please stop the message board fighting? I really can't stand the message board fighting..."

"No. You're an idiot, and your posts are terrible."

+8 HS
buckeyeEddie27's picture
I Must Break You


I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

+4 HS
doodah_man's picture

I think that all you had to do is watch the teams play. You consistently ask yourself, "why with all this talent and coaching, at a school like tOSU, do we seem to just bumble along?" Hey, it's leadership. Someone has to step up.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

ibuck's picture

"why with all this talent and coaching, at a school like tOSU, do we seem to just bumble along?

I've been in California for 36 years, and I've heard the Buckeyes abused in sports bars and sports radio, and I've wondered myself why OSU athletes in both football and basketball so often perform like deer in the headlights. Could it be perhaps the athletes' sense of entitlement; something like "I've got an OSU scholarship, so I don't have to try that hard: winning is guaranteed."  Scoonie Penn, Maurice Clarett and some '02 defenders are obvious examples of athletes that were very determined to win, so it hasn't been everyone. But far too many Buckeye athletes seem to not know (or follow) the OSU song, "Our honor defend, we will fight to the end, for Ohio."  I hope Meyer is correct, and that leadership will make the difference.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

IGotAWoody's picture

You've heard the Buckeyes abused in sport bars and sports radio NOT because "so often (they) perform like deer in the headlights", it's because OSU is consistently good and playing for championships. Seriously, dude, nobody hates on teams/schools that aren't playing for championships, because nobody cares about those teams. If they're talking shit about you, it's because you matter to them.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+1 HS
btalbert25's picture

That was the problem with the Tressel Era.  They had no killer instinct.  There were great teams and players to be sure, but they weren't ruthless.  Urban wants to ransack your campus and burn the stadium to the ground and his team reflects that.  Tressel wanted to teach the other team a lesson and hope everyone was better for it lol.  I'm of course exaggerating some here, but you'll never see Urban pissed off on the sideline when his team scores an extra TD in garbage time.  You'll never see Urban have a game like that Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.  His teams will stomp on your throat. 

To me, the Culture was the biggest obstacle to over come.  The program needed someone who wasn't afraid to make enemies.  Who wasn't afraid to turn his team into a bunch of killers.  We needed a guy who wanted to crush spirits and hope for anyone the Buckeyes play. 

+3 HS
buckskin's picture

I am absolutely thrilled that Meyer is our coach, but I am still waiting on a defense that is "ruthless, crushing spirits and hope, and a bunch of killers".  So far, I'll take Tressel's defenses over Meyers OSU defenses any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Hopefully that changes this year with marked improvement.

I would rather have that Arkansas Sugar Bowl score than what we did against Clemson in the Orange Bowl this past year.

+5 HS
Poison nuts's picture

I have to disagree with this assessment BT. At least to some extent. In their first 2 years in Columbus, Meyer won 22 games, Tressel 21. The glaring difference - a  B1G title & NC. far, I haven't seen that "killer instinct" too much. Matter of fact, I've seen just as many super close, heart stopping games. Sure there was PSU, but that was the exception, not the rule. Then there was Florida A&M & Cal, but that's Florida A&M & Cal. No, so far this notion that Meyer is a killer compared to Tressel being a bunny, holds no water IMO.

Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't trade Urban Frank for anyone & am a huge, huge fan of his, but until I see a year where OSU performs like the type of team that will crush the souls of their opponents then I don't believe that anyone has a killer instinct that's any different than JT & his teams.

Edit: Buckskin beat me to it...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

+2 HS
woodcocklives@osu's picture

Throat stomping is great and all, but so far all to show for all that machismo is a win over a final ranked #22 Wiscy squad in 2013....

-1 HS
AngryWoody's picture

Who is your team?


Our Honor Defend!

+1 HS
Kingbuck12's picture

From 6-7 to 24 straight wins. Thats all that needs to be said. Im glad he came back home to the great state of OHIO


+3 HS
thunderhawks51's picture

I was in attendance today. It was a great experience I'll never forget. I think I still have chills from the great speeches.

+2 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

If you’re a blame, complain and defend guy, you have a serious problem within your team.”

This reminds me of our good friend bert. And a hint of brady.

+2 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

For the 3rd year in a row Hoke plays the we're "so young" card..Can you picture Urban doing that once, let alone 3 years in a row? BTW, how is possible to be "so young" 3 years in a row???

+3 HS
BuckeyeDevil's picture

Like everyone else, I am glad Urban is our coach. It was a dream come true for me when what we all expected came true the day he was announced as the coach. He was robbed of a league title in 2012 by naïve decision making the year before. But with that said, I don't think that OSU is the elite team in the conference right now. Michigan State in my mind rightly deserves that title and it is ironic that they won the same way Tressel teams did: with tough defense and average offense that sometimes springs to life. This is a pretty important year for Ohio State as they will be starting anew with a different QB in 2015. It just seems to me that if there is no league title (and/or beyond) that the Buckeyes and their adoring fans will be waiting a couple of more years for that to be a reality. And how long do we realistically expect Urban to be head coach? I just don't see him doing 10 years.

+1 HS
Eph97's picture

I'll take whoever wins more. No one knows how any of these guys are for real. Earle Bruce ostensibly cared about his players, but he was 9-3 every year and had OSU in obscurity for the entire 1980's. No one is going to care years from now whether Tressel or Meyer were nice guys. Only the championships or lack thereof and wins against Michigan are going to be remembered. That's all I care about. 

Personally, I also like how Meyer is more frank and less corporate speak than Tressel. However, I will grant that Meyer doesn't seem like a nice guy and is more like Saban. In particular, I remember that press conference after Christian Bryant was injured and Meyer was talking about it. It just seemed fake and he was acting as if were so upset.

BuckeyeCrew's picture

1) You profess to enjoy Meyer's frank nature, and then say he seems fake.  Umm.. ???

2) Wrong.  I care about more than wins and losses, concerning a team I don't even play on, despite enjoying and supporting it.  College football may exist wearing only the thinnest veil of propriety, but honor and integrity (within a specific contexts here) still matter to me. See, some of us have more to look forward to in life, than living vicariously through the lives of high-school and college athletes.  Really.. there's more out there.  Please, don't beat your dog or wife, or stick your schlong into a blender, if we lose. And please don't try to shoot a family member (reference: an ALABAMA fan years ago).

3) Tressel and Bruce will be remembered for far more than their records.  Ramzy has already done one piece on Coach Tressel, that should give even the most jaded weasel some pause, before blindly ESPiNing him.  (Look it up.. Google is fun)

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

My man crush on Urban grows every time he speaks!  We are very blessed to have him as our coach!

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

+1 HS
headina's picture

I fully believe in urban. This is the first time I have ever heard him say something like the last bullet point. If we are in sync we wil win all games. This shoulda care people. His first year and part of last year were spent saying how the receivers were bad, the was bad etc. he now is publicly saying they have a championship caliber team. I can wait to see them play this year and obliterate all opponents. 


BuckeyeCrew's picture

Urban is a great coach, fantastic motivator, and I'd imagine a potentially elite CEO.  He is a 'winner', and seems to have transformed the business of OSU football to a successful model (internally).  It's good for the university, in terms of recognition and money garnered; it's good for the fans, who live almost exclusively for Buckeye victories, and of course it's good for the young men who put in so much effort to be a part of a D1 football team (especially at OSU), and get to enoy the spoils of an elite program.

All that being said, I'm going to state something unpopular: I don't like Urban as a person.  I know I know.. it doesn't really matter for the "bottom line", but to me, there isn't much of a difference between him and Saban.  Both are ruthless, and have the personalities of a corporate-dickhead.  (Yes, I am one of those "anti-establishment" types, he likes to label)  The fact that he even brought up having the ability to "break" someone, was wrong, IMO.  Why do it?  Ego, much?

So, I'll say it.. I'll take Tressel, tattoo-gate and all, even if it means less wins.  In comparing the two characters, I'd say one actually cares a lot more about people (on and off the field), and the other cares only so mcuh as it affects "business".

+1 HS
woodcocklives@osu's picture

Superbly stated... My exact sentiments!

AngryWoody's picture

Who do you root for?

Our Honor Defend!

+1 HS
BuckeyeCrew's picture

Why would you ask something like that? 

-1 HS
Hoody Wayes's picture

Well, then, 2013’s Buckeyes, transformed from unbeaten to awful.

Headed into the third year of Urban Meyer's tenure, Buckeye expectations (Winning A National Championship) remain unfulfilled.