Meeting Of The Minds: What Is Urban’s Upside?


Hello Columbus!

After a week’s worth of flirting, heavy petting and sneaking around behind their parents back, Urban Meyer and Ohio State are now, finally a couple. I’m pretty sure they made it Facebook official and everything just moments ago.

But now with that, the fun part begins: How good will Urban Meyer be at Ohio State, and how long will it take to get them there?

A few things to remember: First, the Urban Meyer that Ohio State is getting in 2011 is not the same as the one Florida got in 2005. This one may be a bit smarter, but he also knows that he can’t push himself to the limit, and if he does, it could again cost him his health and his future. While it’s asinine to think that Urban Meyer would ever allow himself to be a “figure head” it’s hard to imagine him being the grind-it-out, 24-7-365 guy he was in the early days in Gainesville either. He just can’t be.

Another thing to remember is that he’s replacing not only one of the most successful coaches in Ohio State history, but also in recent college football history too. Say what you want about the way that Jim Tressel ended his time at Ohio State, or his boring style of play while there, that guy just…won…football…games. Including the vacated games from 2010 (since really, nobody ever really worries about vacated vs. non-vacated wins), Tressel won at least 10 games for his final six seasons in Columbus, and made BCS bowl games in eight of his 10 years there. Because of Tressel’s success and because of Meyer’s championships at Florida, you could easily make the case that expectations are even higher for Meyer entering Ohio State than they were in Gainesville. Urban may get a honeymoon at Ohio State, but it won’t be for long.


And finally, there’s this: The Big Ten that Urban Meyer is entering is much tougher than the one from even two or three years ago.


Yes things are still a bit boring at times there, but the overall quality of football is improving. Wisconsin is a consistent juggernaut. Michigan State has won 21 regular season games over the past two years (and yes, I cannot believe I just typed that). And Brady Hoke has things rolling at Michigan. Yes the bottom of the Big Ten is still dreadful, but the top is tougher than it’s been in some time.

So again I ask you: How good will Urban be, and how long will it take him to get the program back to the top of the conference?


Allen Kenney: Meyer has plenty of detractors for the stuff outside the lines – myself included – but there are few who can match him when it comes to putting together a top-notch college football team.

Coaching at Ohio State is similar to Florida, except for shittier weather and less attractive people. Oh, and it’s also easier to win there, too.

Meyer proved his recruiting chops in the Sunshine State. In Ohio, he won’t be drawing from quite the same size talent pool now that he had in Florida. However, he won’t have to fend off many marauders to keep quality Ohio prospects in the fold, a luxury that life in the SEC didn’t allow. All in all, he’ll have his pick of the best players in Ohio at his disposal. That’s an enviable position.

In terms of scheme and strategy, Meyer’s version of the spread isn’t so complicated as to make it hard to win big in his first year in Columbus. He has a quarterback in Braxton Miller who looks ready to get that baby humming from the jump, and the Buckeyes have tons of talent, despite what their record this year indicates.

Winning the Big Ten in his debut season, let alone a national championship, would seem to be asking a lot, though. I think a reasonable expectation for 2012 would be that Meyer will field a strong team that will scare the bejeezus out of people with thoughts of how good the Buckeyes will be. In 2013, once he and his staff have had a chance to do things their own way for a while, blast off.

Really, the only threat I see to Meyer have a nice run of success at Ohio State is himself. Based on how things ended at Florida, I’d have concerns that he can keep it together for more than a few years. But, hey, strike while the iron is hot.

Michael Felder: Urban is walking into a place that already has the best players in the conference, has a quarterback capable of being wildly successful and a fanbase that will, after this one year drought, be begging to get back to the top. I really don’t see why contending for a Big Ten title in year one is out of the question.

Depending upon how Meyer fills out his staff- keep an eye on the offensive and defensive coordinator hires- he can have things humming quickly. Defense is the Buckeyes hallmark and they have got legit talent all over that side of the ball. On the offensive side the key will be hiring an offensive coordinator who, like Dan Mullen, was able to help Urban maximize this power spread ideal.

The biggest positive in all of this though?


Meyer is a bear in the recruiting landscape. He will bring a fire, fueled from his SEC days, that will either force the rest of the league to step up in aggression OR see a lot of butthurt programs as Urbz takes kids they thought they had committed.

Regie Eller: Covering Florida State for as long as I have, I got used to paying attention to the Seminoles biggest rival, the Gators.

Anyone with a brain – or half a brain – knows that Urban Meyer can coach football. He turned around Bowling Green, he turned around Utah, he turned around Florida; and all were much more difficult situations than he is walking into now in Columbus.

As Michael touched on, Urban can also recruit with the best of them.  One distinction though worth pointing out, is that I will be very interested to see how well Meyer finds it recruiting the state of Florida, or if he will need to.

Trust me, I know many of the coaches in Florida, and many are a bit perplexed at Meyer recruiting their kids to play for him and then folding up shop and bolting.  No matter how Urban left, it is either one way or the other. I would hope, most can and will take Meyer on his word, but many high school coaches did not like Urban when he was at Florida, so coming in there now – at particular schools – will be nearly impossible. That is a different debate though.

Can Urban surround himself with coaches who can take some of the “pressure” and his 365-24-7-mentality down a notch or four? Maybe he will. If he does not, I would question the longevity at Ohio State.

Remember, every single coach who will now recruit against Urban Meyer has a built-in bolted-down recruiting pitch against Ohio State – whether or not it is truthful, it does not matter. Dirty recruiting is, just that, dirty. Urban used the same argument – that will now be used against himself – while recruiting against Bobby Bowden.

Allen Kenney: To me, that’s the elephant in the room, Regie.

I have some friends who loved Guns ‘n Roses. After most of the original band dissolved, about once a year, a rumor would bubble up that Axl Rose was nearly finished with post-production on his masterpiece, Chinese Democracy, an album recorded with a new iteration of GNR. A rumored release date would surface, everyone would get all jacked up and, inevitably, nothing would come of it. Until it actually did, of course, about 15 years after the whole dance first started.

There’s the potential for the same dynamic to play out with Meyer and Ohio State, albeit in reverse: When is Urban going to burn out? Coaches will undoubtedly use Meyer’s health concerns against OSU in recruiting. Annual whisper campaigns that Meyer will be forced to retire will become grist for the rumor mill.

Ultimately, I don’t think it will have much of an impact on OSU’s recruiting, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.

Kevin McGuire: I see no reason to believe Urban Meyer won’t have the Buckeyes back to a top level in a short period of time. Why? Ohio State has mega-resources and Meyer has mega-coaching skills. The two will go hand-in-hand to form a program that really has only taken a small step back in one year’s time. I mean, Ohio State is a program that went to the Sugar Bowl (like it or not) last season, so how much more work does Meyer really have to do? You know Meyer is going to be a top-notch recruiter, especially in Big Ten country as he is the only coach who can show off some BCS bling (insert Ohio State ring jokes here). You know that Meyer will walk in to the Big Ten and automatically be the top coach in the conference, and you know that Ohio State has the funds to put together whatever assistant coaching staff Meyer desires.

And let’s take a closer look at Ohio State in 2012. They will have Meyer as head coach, plus whoever joins the coaching staff (expect a very good staff). He will have a kid in Braxton Miller who has shown some very good things this season and will have a full year under his belt. And he has a fantastic schedule to work with. Out of conference games against Miami (Ohio), Central Florida, California and UAB at home. He gets Nebraska and Michigan at home and has a bye week to prepare for a late-season road trip to Madison.

Can Meyer turn a 6-6 team in to a Big Ten favorite? If any coach can do that, Meyer is it in this conference.

Michael Felder: Allen and Regie I’d be far more worried about the negative recruiting in the south than I am in Big Ten country. Perhaps that’s due to my familiarity with just how cutthroat the south is but overall the Big Ten landscape just doesn’t lend itself to as nasty an environment.

That’s also a product of the whining about recruiting that was done by Big Ten-ers when Rich Rod was in Ann Arbor.

Urban’s been in a grinder. Recruiting Florida up to North Carolina isn’t an easy task but he got it done against Saban, Richt, Kiffin for over a year, Fisher-Bowden and the rest of the coaches in the area. There isn’t anything, from a negative recruiting standpoint, that Meyer has not already combated and overcame.

He faced negative recruiting about his leaving for just one season. He will now face it every season, whether he likes it or not. It is worth noting – at the very least.

Regie Eller: My point was that Urban used – what will be used against him – against Bowden in the latter years.

On a different note, Urban may be helping FSU out a bit, if the rumor of him targeting Chad Morris to be his OC is true. Holy cow.

Michael Felder: Yes Morris was the name I had on my mind as a great orchestra conductor for him to hire.

Regie Eller: Would be a great hire for Urban, for sure. No one can argue that Ohio State is not serious about football, not one. Clemson on the other hand? Well.

Allen Kenney: Huh. I kinda thought Meyer might want someone a little more deferential as OC, given that’s kinda his baby. Had assumed that rumor was driven by Morris’ agent. Quite interesting.

Michael Felder: Clemson’s as serious as they can afford to be. If they lose Morris I take a trip to the sun belt for my next OC.

Regie Eller: Meyer fell in love with Chad’s scheme and his playcalling this season.

Michael Felder: That and he recognizes from Addazio issues he needs a guy that’s capable.

Reggie Eller: Morris and Meyer have known each since 2003, which would make their relationship longer than his and Dabo’s. This may get fun.

Tom Perry: I should have chimed in earlier as pretty much everything about Urban Meyer has been touched on, but I want to reiterate one point.

The Ohio State fans and their expectations are at the same level (if not higher) than Florida. OSU will afford Meyer any and every resource that he sees fit (as long as it’s legal). Brady Hoke had a one-year advantage over the Buckeyes and it is now gone. Meyer will lock down the best players in Ohio and use his recruiting contacts in Florida and Georgia to bring in enough talent to be back on top.

As already noted, Braxton Miller looks like a great fit for Meyer’s style and the defense should be better next year.

I am most interested to see how his staff takes shape. That will be a key to his success in Columbus. It will also be interesting to see how long until Ohio State’s AD is gone and Urban has someone in that position that he likes better.

As you know, I live in Ohio, and the Buckeye fans are going nuts over this hire. You’d think they actually beat Michigan Saturday by the way they are acting.

Aaron Torres: I too am late to the party, but really want to hammer Tom’s point home: Urban will only be as good as the staff he puts together.

That might seem like common sense, but to anyone who thinks that Urban is going to walk in the door, wave his magic wand, and all of a sudden Ohio State is going to win 11 games again, well I’m sorry, but it’s going to take a bit more work than that. He’s only one man, and even the great Urban Meyer (and I’m not even being sarcastic, he is great) needs help. Remember, his offense was never quite the same when Dan Mullen left following the 2008 season, even with Tim Tebow. It didn’t help when his defensive coordinator Charlie Strong left Gainesville a year later.

Point being I love this hire, like everyone does. But it’s going to take time, and it’s going to take all the right pieces.

I for one can’t wait to see it all in action!

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About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.