Comparing Urban Meyer's First Six Years At Ohio State To Woody Hayes, Other Former Buckeye Coaches

By James Grega on May 7, 2018 at 10:10 am
Urban Meyer

By now, everyone knows and can appreciate what Urban Meyer has done in his first six years as the head coach at Ohio State. 

Meyer has more wins than any former Buckeye coach in that same span, and has a national title and two conference titles to add to the list of accomplishments. His 73 wins give him 11 more than Jim Tressel, who set the previous school record for wins in his first six seasons. 

We decided to compare Meyer's first six seasons to those of other former Ohio State coaches in other areas, starting with first team All-Americans. 

First Team All-Americans

The Buckeye trees that are planted in Buckeye Grove just south of Ohio Stadium represent the first team All-Americans that have donned the scarlet and gray in their illustrious college careers. Through six seasons, Meyer matched the number of All-Americans in his time with those of Tressel, each getting 17 selections. 

URBAN MEYER (2012-17) 17
JIM TRESSEL (2001-06) 17
JOHN COOPER (1988-93) 5
EARLE BRUCE (1979-84) 5
WOODY HAYES (1951-56) 7

Tressel had three two-time winners in his first six years (Mike Doss, Mike Nugent, A.J. Hawk) while Meyer tallied two (Billy Price, Joey Bosa). 

The names on this list include a pair of Heisman winners (Howard Cassady 1955, Troy Smith 2006) and a number of first-round draft picks (we will get to that in a second). Eddie George, of course, won the Heisman in 1995, but that was John Cooper's eighth season as head coach of the Buckeyes. 

Linebacker Steve Tovar accounted for two of Cooper's five first-team All-Americans in his first six years, while Cassady and Jim Parker accounted for four of Hayes' first seven. 

First-Round Draft Picks

As we have seen in recent years, sending players to the NFL is one of if not Ohio State's primary recruiting pitch. Meyer's staff has prepared a plethora of athletes for the next level in his first six seasons, more than any other Buckeye coach in that span. 


With Billy Price and Denzel Ward being selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, Meyer passed Tressel in first-round picks through six seasons at Ohio State. Both coaches had a season in which five former players were taken in the first round. In the 2006 draft, A.J. Hawk, Donte Whitner, Bobby Carpenter, Santonio Holmes and Nick Mangold all went in the first round. Exactly 10 years later, the Buckeyes sent Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Eli Apple, Taylor Decker and Darron Lee to the NFL in the first round. 

Hayes' first-round selections came in 1956 (Cassady, No. 3 overall) and 1957 (Parker, No. 8 overall). Bruce sent Art Schlichter, William Roberts and Jim Lachey into the first round, while Cooper's haul consisted of Vinnie Clark, Alonzo Spellman, Robert Smith and Dan Wilkinson, who went No. 1 overall to Cincinnati in the 1994 draft. Of the coaches on this list, only Cooper has had multiple players selected No. 1 overall, as Orlando Pace was selected with the first pick in the 1998 draft. 

Conference Championships

Through six seasons, Meyer has won just a pair of conference titles, a number that seems low when you consider the amount of success he has had, including 73 victories. 

However, when you look at what his predecessors accomplished in their first half-dozen years, it doesn't appear that Meyer is too far behind the eight-ball, especially considering he now has to win an extra game to claim a conference crown. 

URBAN MEYER 2 (2014, 2017)
JIM TRESSEL 3 (2002, 2005, 2006)
JOHN COOPER 1 (1993)
EARLE BRUCE 3 (1979, 1981, 1984)
WOODY HAYES 2 (1954, 1955)

Remember that Meyer would have had a chance to compete for a third Big Ten title in his first season had Ohio State not been under NCAA sanctions and banned from postseason play in 2012. Meyer got his first shot at a Big Ten title in 2013, but lost to Michigan State in the conference title game, 34-24. 

Two of Tressel's three conference titles listed above are shared, as both Ohio State and Iowa went undefeated in conference during the 2002 season and did not play each other in the regular season. The Buckeyes went on to win a national title against Miami, while the Hawkeyes were defeated by USC in the Orange Bowl. 

In 2005, Ohio State and Penn State shared the conference title, but it was the Nittany Lions that went to the Rose Bowl because of a 17-10 win over the Buckeyes during the regular season. Penn State went on to defeat Florida State in the Orange Bowl while Ohio State defeated Notre Dame in the Fiesta.

Cooper's lone conference title in his first six seasons was shared with Wisconsin, as both Ohio State and the Badgers finished with identical 6-1-1 records in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes and Badgers tied in their regular season meeting, and OSU could have won the conference outright in its regular season finale against Michigan, but lost 28-0 in the Big House. 

Bruce's 1979 team won the conference outright, going undefeated in the regular season before losing to USC in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes shared the 1981 crown with Iowa before again winning it outright in 1984. 

Like Meyer, Hayes' first conference title was also his first national championship season. Ohio State went a perfect 10-0 and defeated USC in the Rose Bowl to capture just its second national title. The Buckeyes dropped a pair of regular season games the following season, but finished a perfect 6-0 in conference, giving Hayes back-to-back Big Ten titles, the only Ohio State coach to accomplish such a feat in his first six years on campus. 

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