With one day to go until the Big Ten Championship Game, Urban Meyer had to answer questions about his future as Ohio State’s coach once again.
According to a report published Friday by Football Scoop’s Scott Roussel, Meyer “continues to contemplate his future on an ongoing basis” and “has told (Ohio State athletic director) Gene Smith that he doesn’t expect to continue to coach past the 2019 season.” Roussel also reported that Meyer is expected to address his future in the days following Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game.
Smith told The Athletic’s Bill Landis on Friday that he and Meyer have not discussed the possibility of 2019 being Meyer’s last season coaching the Buckeyes. When Meyer was asked about the report himself during his Big Ten Championship Game press conference in Indianapolis on Friday, however, Meyer neither confirmed nor denied the report, instead declining to comment altogether.
“No comment on that,” Meyer said when asked about the report.
In a season that started with Meyer being suspended three games for failing to take sufficient management action regarding alleged misconduct by former Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith, and in which Meyer also revealed that he has battled severe headaches due to an arachnoid cyst in his brain, there have been repeated questions about his future and whether he is approaching the end of his tenure coaching the Buckeyes.
Earlier this week, Meyer said he plans to coach at Ohio State next season. The Athletic’s Ari Wasserman reported in September, however, that Ohio State has had discussions with offensive coordinator Ryan Day – who was the Buckeyes’ acting head coach for the three games that Meyer was suspended – about a “coach-in-waiting” agreement for Day to ultimately succeed Meyer, though that report did not specify when that succession could take place.
According to Roussel’s report on Friday, Day – who has been named as a speculative candidate for several other head coaching jobs that are currently open – is expected to remain at Ohio State next season “with a significant raise coming and with the (most likely) unwritten understanding that he is in line to become head coach once Urban steps down.”
Day appears to be in line to become a head coach sooner than later, whether at Ohio State or elsewhere. Meyer said Friday that there will be discussions with Day about his prospects of becoming a head coach at some point, but that Friday – one day before the Buckeyes play Northwestern with a conference championship on the line – was not that time.
“We've had a tremendous amount of guys to go on to become great head coaches,” Meyer said. “Ryan Day is elite. I've said that many, many times. There will be a time and a space. Certainly now is not that time, and this week’s not this time. But there will be a time.”
While Football Scoop’s report, if accurate, suggests there could be more clarity on how long Meyer plans to continue coaching as soon as next week, his future is certainly the last thing he wants to be answering questions about one day before his team plays for a chance to defend its Big Ten title, which also serves as its chance to make one final statement to the College Football Playoff committee before the four-team playoff field is set on Sunday.
Meyer said Friday, however, that the reports and speculation about his future have not been distraction to him in terms of preparing to coach each game.
“Just trying to do the job that we're all asked to do the best we can, so it hasn't been a distraction,” Meyer said.
As for his team, Meyer – who said he was going to be hard on his team this week – said he is pleased with the way the Buckeyes practiced this week and feels good about how they have turned the page in preparation for Northwestern after their 62-39 win over Michigan last week.
“Be hard on them, be fresh and be mentally prepared, and I think we're there,” Meyer said. “Obviously the foot hits the ball tomorrow at 8:00, so we still have a lot of time, but I like where we're at.