Urban Meyer is taking his talents to the NFL.
The former Ohio State coach has officially signed a deal to return to coaching as the new head coach of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, ending a two-year break from the sidelines since he retired as the Buckeyes' coach at the end of the 2018 season.
“This is a great day for Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a statement. “Urban Meyer is who we want and need, a leader, winner and champion who demands excellence and produces results. While Urban already enjoys a legacy in the game of football that few will ever match, his passion for the opportunity in front of him here in Jacksonville is powerful and unmistakable.”
While Meyer, 56, had frequently said over the past two years that he thought he was done coaching, the opportunity to coach at the highest level of the sport was one he decided he couldn't pass up.
“I’ve analyzed this decision from every angle – the time is right in Jacksonville, and the time is right for me to return to coaching,” Meyer said in a statement Thursday night. “I’m excited about the future of this organization and our long-term prospect for success.”
It's a new challenge for Meyer, who won three national championships as a college football coach but has never coached in the NFL before. He has a tough job in front of him, taking over a Jaguars team that won just one game in 2020, but he will have the No. 1 pick to draft the franchise quarterback of his choosing – which most believe will be Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, though Ohio State's Justin Fields could also garner consideration.
He takes over a roster that includes two of his former players from Ohio State: defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton and offensive lineman Andrew Norwell.
Since retiring as Ohio State's coach in 2018, Meyer has spent the last two years working as a college football analyst for Fox Sports while also maintaining a role in Ohio State's athletic department as an assistant athletic director of athletic initiatives and relations. Shortly after the hire was officially announced, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks both took to Twitter to congratulate Meyer on his new job.
Current Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who Meyer initially brought to Ohio State to assistant coach and recommended to be his successor, also took to Twitter to thank Meyer on Thursday.
While Meyer is already regarded as one of college football's all-time great coaches, he'll have a chance to build on that legacy even further if he can translate that success to coaching at the professional level.
The big question from Ohio State's perspective now is whether Meyer will poach any of his former assistants or other staffers from the Buckeyes to join him in Jacksonville. Schefter has reported that Meyer's coaching staff is expected to include some assistants from the collegiate level, but it's unclear whether that will include any current Ohio State coaches. The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday, though, that director of sports performance Mickey Marotti is expected to remain at Ohio State despite his history of working with Meyer.