By leading the Buckeyes to a 24-7 win over USC in Friday’s Cotton Bowl, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer won his 73rd game in just six years.
Meyer has lost just eight games in that same span.
Because of the lofty expectations that surround the Ohio State football program, Meyer’s six seasons leading the Buckeyes haven’t all been unanimously viewed as great.
Cumulatively, however, the statistics show that Meyer’s first six years in Columbus have been one of the most consistently successful starts to a coaching tenure in college football history.
Ohio State has won more than 90 percent of its games over the last six years, making Meyer one of only two coaches to win with that much consistency over that span; the other, as you might expect, is Alabama’s Nick Saban, who has gone 75-8 dating back to 2012, entering the Crimson Tide’s upcoming College Football Playoff game against Clemson.
Furthermore, Meyer’s Buckeyes still have never lost more than two games in a season, while winning at least 12 in five of those six seasons and winning at least 11 in all six.
Saban’s Crimson Tide have matched that feat for the last two seasons, but that streak began in his fifth season at Alabama, not his first. The Crimson Tide went just 6-6 in Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa and 67-13 in his first six seasons – still exceptional numbers, especially considering that the Crimson Tide won three national championships in those six years, but numbers that reflect just how remarkable the Buckeyes’ consistency thus far in the Meyer era has been.
Meyer was perhaps expected to win more than the one national championship he’s won in his first six seasons leading the Buckeyes, but no Ohio State coach has ever accomplished that feat. The Buckeyes have been in the national championship conversation until at least November in each of the last five seasons, with Meyer's first season at Ohio State – when the Buckeyes were ineligible for postseason play but went 12-0 – being the only exception in his tenure.
Since that season, Ohio State has played in either a BCS or New Year’s Six bowl game every season, winning four of its six bowl or playoff games, while also making three Big Ten Championship Game appearances, winning two of those.
Ohio State finished sixth or better in the end-of-season AP Top 25 in four of Meyer’s first five seasons, never finishing worse than 12th in the final rankings, and appear set to finish no worse than fifth in this season’s year-end rankings after their season-ending victory in Dallas.
It’s debatable to say that every one of Meyer’s first six seasons at Ohio State have been great seasons, but it’s simply fact to say Meyer’s Buckeyes have never had a bad season.
In an era where successful college football teams play more games per season than they ever have before, Meyer is the first coach in Ohio State history to go six seasons without losing more than two games in a year (John Wilce accomplished the feat for five years, but went 3-3 in his sixth season in 1918). His 73 wins in his first six seasons as Ohio State’s coach easily surpassed the previous mark set by Jim Tressel (62). His .901 winning percentage also outpaces Tressel’s (.816) as the best for an Ohio State coach through six seasons.
At a school where the likes of Tressel, Woody Hayes and Earle Bruce have become legends, Meyer has had the most successful first six seasons of any Ohio State football coach.
While Ohio State has had a couple disappointing missed opportunities to compete for national championships – and Meyer will be expected to win at least one or two more of those to establish his place alongside Hayes as one of the Buckeyes' best coaches ever – Meyer has won games more than nine times as often as he has lost, a tremendous feat by any standard and the most consistently successful any Ohio State coach has ever been at this stage in his career.