PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Dan Dakich, a former colleague and longtime friend of Urban Meyer, didn't miss a chance to jab at his buddy on what's already the most talked about story of the college football offseason.
"True story: I got three letters today at the hotel. It was the damnedest thing and they said 'Coach please read this tonight as you introduce Coach Meyer,'" Dakich said Monday at the Hilton Garden Inn, Perrysburg at the "Urban for Autism" event. "I have not looked at these, I have no idea what they say."
Dakich, who coached the men's basketball program at the same time Meyer was at Bowling Green, then proceeded to unfold three pieces of paper in front of a packed house in the west parlor room at the hotel.
"'Coach those other two guys suck, start me. Cardale Jones,'" Dakich read, to a chorus of laughter and smiles. "'Coach I saved your ass last year, start me. J.T. Barrett.'
And finally: "'Coach you came here because I’m a Heisman Trophy candidate. You said so start me. Screw them. Braxton Miller."
"The older you get and you look back, you see the faces of players. To see these guys now and they're all doing so well, to watch that highlight video today, that was an impressive deal. I love these guys. They're my peoples, and they’ll forever my peoples."– Urban Meyer on Bowling Green
"It's humbling to come back to Northwest Ohio where it all started," Meyer said. "It's real emotional for me today."
Meyer came back to Bowling Green State University — the place he received his first head coaching offer prior to the 2001 football season — Sunday evening to spend time on campus.
It included an emotional rendezvous with his former players, a luncheon and a highlight video of that faithful 2001 season prior to heading to the event in Perrysburg. The event included a live and silent auction for various Buckeye and Falcon memorabilia.
"The older you get and you look back, you see the faces of players. To see these guys now and they're all doing so well, to watch that highlight video today, that was an impressive deal," Meyer said. "I love these guys. They're my peoples, and they’ll forever be my peoples."
Meyer went on, motioning to a table full of players from that 2001 Bowling Green team, among them his first quarterback, Josh Harris: "They were unselfish and really the reason they played hard was a little bit of blind faith. Because there's no track record. Now, kids kind of think we know what we're doing."
Meyer's won nearly 85 percent of the games he's coached in college football, including an astounding 38-3 mark at Ohio State that contains the 2014 College Football Playoff National Championship.
The Buckeye head coach recounted his coaching moves from Bowling Green, to Utah, down to Florida and back at Ohio State, but this day was all about his roots and spending time with those who mean most to him.
"He could ask me to dig ditches, he could ask me to do anything and I'll do it for him because he's been such a good friend," Dakich said after.
"It’s so humbling to be able to come back to Northwest Ohio and drive around Bowling Green State University," Meyer said. "It was not good here a few years ago."
Things have turned for the better, however, with the Falcons winning the MAC's East Division in 2014 and finishing 8-6 in new head coach Dino Babers' first season.
Ohio State's coach said he met with Babers and saw the school's updated facilities — "he has much better toys here than I had," Meyer said — after playing golf Monday morning with Dakich, but wanted to leave one final thought with both them and those in attendance at the charity event from poet/journalist G.K. Chesterton.
"Why do soldiers fight? They don't fight because of the hatred of those in front of them, they fight because of the love of those behind them. What these guys taught me, at Bowling Green, it was witnessed, it was true," Meyer said, before listing the trials and tribulations the Buckeyes endured prior to getting to the zenith of the sport in 2014.
"How did that happen? I never compare what we do to the military because I have too much respect for them, but I studied them non-stop. It's because of that quote I just told you," Meyer said. "If you're an Ohio State fan, and a Buckeye — it’s as strong as it’s ever been at Ohio State."