ANAHEIM, Calif. – Urban Meyer’s final week as Ohio State’s head coach is underway.
He doesn’t particularly want to think about that, though, as the Buckeyes prepare to play Washington in Tuesday’s Rose Bowl.
Most of the spotlight in the week leading up to the Rose Bowl and during Tuesday’s game in Pasadena will shine upon Meyer, as he wraps up his seven-year tenure coaching the Buckeyes in a game that he has long dreamed of coaching, but never actually has coached before.
Meyer’s focus this week, though, isn’t on what he has accomplished in his career or the fact that he is coaching on his final game, but on his players – some of whom will also be participating in their final games as Buckeyes.
“Coaches come and go,” Meyer said Wednesday while meeting with the media for the first time this week during an interview session at Disneyland. “The players, they’ll never get to do this again. They’re the ones doing the work. They’re the ones that have blood, sweat and tears put into this thing, and it’s our job to get them into a position to win. That’s it.”
As the Buckeyes have prepared to play in the Rose Bowl, which they continued to do Wednesday when they held their first practice of the week at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, Meyer said there have been moments where the finality of this week has hit him. But he’s tried to keep those thoughts out of his mind as much as possible.
“I try to avoid it at all costs,” Meyer said. “It catches you once in a while. Like today, I just remember at practice, I was looking around and I just love this group of players I’m around. I think the clarity of what’s coming next has helped a little bit. So the focus is just on the game.”
As such, Meyer said he has tried to keep his routine “as normal as possible.” Asked whether he has spent any more time than usual reflecting on his career this week, Meyer said “there will be time for that.”
“It’s all about winning,” Meyer said of this week. “It’s all about preparing. And the team we’re playing, that catches your eye when you put them on video tape. Our full focus is on them.”
“Coaches come and go. The players, they’ll never get to do this again. They’re the ones doing the work. They’re the ones that have blood, sweat and tears put into this thing, and it’s our job to get them into a position to win.”– Urban Meyer on preparing for the Rose Bowl in his final week as Ohio State's head coach
Meyer said he is trying to soak in every moment this week, though, and acknowledged that there is some sentimentality to finishing his career in the Rose Bowl, a game he has been watching since he was a kid growing up in Northeast Ohio.
“I’m very appreciative, and I didn’t realize it until I really think about it now, that to have never had the opportunity to coach in the Rose Bowl and say, ‘I’m done,’ that would have been very hard,” Meyer said.
Urban Meyer talks about what it means to him to coach in the Rose Bowl for the first time. pic.twitter.com/8R0SsFabYS— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) December 26, 2018
While this is Meyer’s final week coaching the Buckeyes, it won’t be his final week at Ohio State. OSU athletic director Gene Smith said this past weekend that Meyer will become an assistant athletic director for the university in his retirement from coaching, and Meyer also confirmed Wednesday that he will be co-teaching a class next semester in the Fisher College of Business.
As for what else Meyer will be doing as assistant athletic director, though, Meyer said he will hash out those details after the Rose Bowl – once again, because his focus right now is on winning next week’s game, which would bring his record to 83-9 to conclude his Ohio State career.
“I think after (Jan. 1), Gene and I will sit down,” Meyer said. “It’s all about, ‘Let’s go win this game.’ At the right time, I think it will be spelled out very clear.”