Rumored for months, Urban Meyer made it official yesterday announcing he would retire as Ohio State's head football coach following the Buckeyes' Rose Bowl matchup with Washington on New Year's Day.
Meyer carved out a legacy as the most dominant head coach in Ohio State's history, capturing a national title and three Big Ten championships while going a perfect 7-0 against Michigan.
He also won a ridiculous 90.1 percent of his games, going 82-9 with one game left to play.
But Meyer was about more than just winning. He was about loyalty – sometimes to a fault. He was about bringing a smile to sick kids facing long odds. He was about setting his players up for success after football. And he was about trying to make the great state of Ohio proud.
His detractors will rightfully remind us his legacy is more complicated than Ohio State fans ever hoped it would be and there's no question Meyer brought much of that discussion on himself.
That said, I'd argue Meyer's positive contributions to his state and university far outweighed the negatives and the man set a new on-field standard – one that Ryan Day will have his hands full trying to live up to – for a program that was already one of college football's blue bloods.
With that, here's a special edition of Five Things, taking stock of Meyer's legacy in Columbus.
CHASING THE ELITE
Urban Meyer certainly had his offensive philosophies and brought in a host of top-flight assistants like Larry Johnson, Kerry Coombs, Ryan Day, Tom Herman and others but what he did even better than attract assistant coaches was bring elite talent to Columbus.
Every successful coach has giant ego but Meyer was never confused about the fact the college game is more about the Jimmies and the Joes than the X's and the O's.
He was more John Cooper than Jim Tressel in that he scoured the country for the nation's top high school talent and he was dogged in his pursuit of their commitment.
With Meyer at the helm, Ohio State attracted names like Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, Taylor Decker, Darron Lee, Gareon Conley, Curtis Samuel, Michael Thomas, Raekwon McMillan, Vonn Bell and on and on and on.
HE DON'T GIVE A DAMN..
Urban Meyer only gave a damn about the whole state of Michigan when he was invading its high school talent right under the nose of his rivals.
When he wasn't bringing Michigan products like Mike Weber, Michael Jordan, Damon Webb and 2019 commit Dwan Mathis to Columbus, he was smoking the Wolverines like a victory cigar.
As a child of the Cooper era, watching Jim Tressel win nine out of ten against the Wolverines was cathartic as hell especially as he won seven straight from 2004 to 2010 but Meyer was even better going a perfect 7-0 against his rival.
Meyer's record is made all the more sweet by notching four straight victories against Michigan's anointed savior, Jim Harbaugh. And that reality is made even sweeter when you consider the 2016 win was a double-overtime heartbreaker and the latest edition saw Meyer's squad put up 62 points – the most by an OSU team in The Game's history – while dashing Michigan's hopes at swinging the pendulum and earning a likely bid in the College Football Playoff.
Meyer embraced the rivalry just like Tressel and Woody did and on the heels of Tressel's magic, ensured Ohio State's ownership of the head space within every Michigan fan for the better part of the last two decades.
THE GREATEST RUN OF ALL TIME
Amid the countless memories Meyer's team provided the fan base, nothing will ever top the magical three-game run to claim the 2014 national title.
Even the staunchest Meyer hater would struggle to objectively come up with a more improbable run in the history of sport than Ohio State's three-game blitz of Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon – with a third-string quarterback, no less – to capture the crystal football.
As Buckeye fans, that's as good as it'll ever be. It will never be matched. It's impossible.
Hell, the 59-0 blitz of Wisconsin might be the best non-Michigan game I've ever seen then he followed that up by slaying Nick Saban and unleashing his squad in a physically dominating effort versus Oregon.
I'll always remember 2002 for being the first national title of my lifetime but the 2014 craziness can't objectively be topped.
This Thing isn't about the on-field success of Meyer's 10 first round NFL selections or the eight second round picks, it's about his commitment to developing men.
The guys who get in trouble are the ones that make the biggest news in today's society but there are dozens, hell hundreds, of others that either do great things while playing professional football or have gone on to enjoy success in their chosen professions.
Meyer's commitment to ensuring his players are prepared and employable through efforts like his Real Life Wednesdays program or his passion around developing leadership traits in partnership with Tim and Brian Kight's Focus 3 organization should be commended, not downplayed or dismissed.
"THE BEST I'VE..."
If you've been around our site for any period of time, you might already know how much I loved Meyer's penchant for hyperbole, most often in the form of calling a particular player or thing to be the "best I've ever been around" at one thing or another.
These unsolicited declarations ranged from the wildly general to the oddly specific and always brought a smile to my face.
Talking about Dwayne Haskins on Signing Day 2016, Meyer called him "the best quarterback at his age I've ever seen" which, well, okay maybe that's a bad example.
You've obviously heard him list at least 10 guys as "one of the best leaders I've ever been around" highlighted by Tim Tebow, J.T. Barrett and John Simon.
Some of his best work came ahead of fall camps when asked to opine on which guys might contribute in the fall. My favorite example came in July 2017 when he said with a straight face that seven guys were in the mix at right guard:
"There’s positives and negatives to having seven guys. How do you get those guys reps? And no one has really stepped up and taken it. So it’s going to be a street fight, especially the first 10 days, because you can’t have seven guys competing for that spot."
Freezing Cold Takes even got in on the fun last summer:
Happy birthday Urban Meyer! One of the best coaches anyone has ever "been around" who has "been around" some of best players and coaches! pic.twitter.com/Butm9OQakd
— Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed) July 10, 2017
All hyperbole aside, the bottom line is Urban Meyer is the most dominant coach Ohio State football's ever been around and Ryan Day has some Grand Canyon-sized shoes to fill.
Urban Meyer had his flaws but he also had his strengths and The Ohio State University is better off for having him guide the program for the last seven years.