What is there to say? The man’s record speaks for itself more than I ever could hope to. But if there is anything I’ve learned from being a Buckeye fan it’s to always shoot your shot. When I met Drue Chrisman one random Sunday at church, I decided to ask him only one question regarding Ohio State (to avoid geeking out like the fanboy I am) and I asked something along the lines of “What’s Urban Meyer like?” Chrisman said; “When Urban Meyer walks in a room, you know it, you just kind of feel his presence.” Not direct quotes but they sum up part of my brief encounter with Ohio State’s amazing punter and talking about the man, the myth, the legend, Urban Meyer.
I wasn’t surprised by the news of Urban Meyer retiring, but I was saddened. Not just because an awesome head coach was retiring from leading the Ohio State Buckeyes, but because it seemed the only reason he would retire now, was for medical reasons. This was something that Meyer alluded to as the most contributing factor in the press conference announcing that the Rose Bowl will be his last game as head coach. I will say that I found it interesting that he mentioned the headaches got so bad last year during the PSU game that he began to consider stepping down. Maybe that had something to do with Iowa? Or Purdue? These games were so uncharacteristic of the man because he has literally been so sick it’s been affecting his work.
Cris Carter said it best on his show, when he described that Urban can’t coach anymore because it is physically hurting him. Having coached Carter as a wide receivers coach when Carter played the two became close friends. Carter said; “He wants to coach, but physically he can’t coach. He can’t do this anymore.” Carter described the specifics of the very painful condition regarding Meyer’s health. When asked if he was relieved, Carter described his reluctance to go to games out of fear for his friend and only went the B1G Title game at Urban’s request. He said Meyer’s wife and kids were relieved. “I was worried that I was going to have to speak at my friend’s funeral.” Carter said.
Urban Meyer told of some other factors that led to this decision and it’s timing. He said he didn’t want to mislead recruits, that his goal was to pass the baton to an elite coach and person and he thinks Ryan Day is that person. He also added this would have been a tougher decision if the program weren’t enjoying the success it is right now. I particularly am thankful for that last part because you never know if a person may push themselves too far, just to end on a high note, or out of loyalty to others, even when it hurts themselves.
Meyer told everyone that this was it for him coaching, yet you could tell just in the press conference he has a desire to be involved with Ohio State in some way. Cris Carter also said he didn’t think Urban was done in the arena of helping young people. Which made me think that maybe like Woody Hayes, Urban would have some kind of faculty role in Columbus going forward.
Carter seemed to be the only pundit who doesn’t think Urban is going to coach again. Despite him saying; “I believe I will not coach again." “Are you fairly certain?” "I'm certain, yes." I heard other people say they thought he’d take another year off and return to college and coach at USC where Clay Helton is embattled, or Miami who has longed for a return to prominence since the another Buckeye coach dug their grave in the Arizona desert, or Notre Dame where it is rumored their current coach, Brian Kelly has strong NFL ambitions. I even heard one person say they thought he could end up coaching the Green Bay Packers or the Cleveland Browns. I supposed we’ll know in about a year, but it seems like this is it for the man born in Toledo, raised in Ashtabula, and educated in Cincinnati and Columbus. I think this true son of Ohio is going to hang up his whistle for good after the Rose Bowl.
I’m not going to go over all of his national and conference championships, his winning undefeated seasons, winning streaks, or even his rivalry game records. I will say one thing about one of his records. The one he and we all are the most-proud of and that’s 7-0 against that team up north. Undefeated against them. That team never, ever, not even once got the better of Urban Meyer.
Some will only remember Urban as a guy who gave too many people, too many chances. All I’ll say about that is as someone who also tries to follow Christ, I find that to be most redeeming quality that not enough of us acquire, and none of us have the perfect amount of. Most will remember a family man. He joked at the press conference that everyone was there to celebrate his grandson Troy’s second birthday. A leader, and a leader of men, just check out what so many of his players are saying about him. He made and makes the great state of Ohio proud, but I think he’ll be remembered for all the joy he and his football teams brought to millions across the country.
I love Ohio State football. It represents Ohio. Ohio is my home. My home is where my heart is. My heart is with my family. I love my family. God is love. God loves us all. See how all these things are interwoven? They walk with me through life, often time propping me up, carrying me, and leading me. I’ll remember Urban Meyer for being a fans coach. For going for it on 4th and 1 against that team in 2014 and throwing punches in the air after Zeke broke it for a touchdown. For throwing his headset in the Sugar Bowl, for me jumping up and down as Zeke went 85 yards and my brother sat on the couch in stunned silent joy. For a few days later when The Chase was complete, and though my brothers were in Utah, my sister and parents in Arizona, and myself all alone in Ohio, I could feel our family smiling across the country. I’ll remember for how almost every game Block O would scream “Hey, Urban, O-H!” and would shake the south stands when he’d throw up the “I-O!” I’ll remember him for falling to my knees while unknown to me at the time he fell to the turf as Curtis Samuel ended The Game. For every November where I felt like I was in a tough spot in life around Thanksgiving and needed a win. And would get THE win and be reminded that the impossible is possible and that our biggest foes can be conquered. I’ll remember It’s Time For War, the Brotherhood, the Grind, and Win the Moment. I’ll remember watching Zeke throwing up the Bosa shrug after torching Notre Dame while watching my first game with my nephew, and holding his little brother while Damon Webb pick sixed Sam Darnold three years later. I’ll remember 62 and how just saying that number adds another family smile.
Thanks, Coach Meyer. Ride off into the sunset. You earned it. You deserve it. O-H!