The Urban Meyer File -- Here and Back Again
By Tony Gerdeman
Long before Urban Meyer was pulling back the reins on his Gators in a 41-14 drubbing of Ohio State in January of 2007, he had already had a long history with the Buckeye State.
Born in Toledo in 1964, Meyer's family moved to Ashtabula when he was a child. It's there where he took roots and became one of that city's favorite sons.
After high school he went on to play baseball in the Atlanta Braves organization as well as defensive back at the University of Cincinnati, where he received his undergraduate degree.
Upon graduating, Meyer spent a season helping out with the football program at Cincinnati's St. Xavier high school in 1985. Following that season, he went on to his first stint at Ohio State as a graduate assistant for two seasons. He would then receive his Master's Degree from Ohio State in Sports Administration in 1988.
He left the Buckeyes after those two seasons for an actual assistant coach's job with Jim Heacock at Illinois State. Heacock, who has spent the last 15 seasons as an Ohio State assistant coach, was a rookie head coach when he hired Meyer in 1988. He coached outside linebackers for Heacock in 1988 and quarterbacks and receivers in 1989.
In 1990 he left Illinois State for Colorado State and joined Earle Bruce's staff for the second time. He stayed with Colorado State for six seasons as their wide receivers coach, and was a part of two Holiday Bowl appearances.
In 1996 Meyer's path would cross with Ohio State yet again, but only tangentially as he moved on to Notre Dame to coach the receivers for the Irish. Under former Ohio State assistant coach Lou Holtz, Meyer energized the Irish passing game and in just his second year in South Bend, receivers Malcolm Johnson and Bobby Brown became the first pair of Irish receivers to ever record 40 receptions in a season.
Meyer spent five seasons with the Irish before he got his first head coaching job. Bowling Green came calling in 2001 and Meyer once again found himself coaching football back in his home state.
He took over a team that was 2-9 the year before he arrived and turned the Falcons into an 8-3 team in just twelve months. He bettered that number in 2002 with a 9-3 mark and the highest scoring offense (40.8 ppg) in the school's history to that point.
With everything riding high at Bowling Green, Meyer surprised a few people by taking the job as Utah's head coach. The year before Meyer showed up in Salt Lake City, the Utes went 5-6. He immediately turned them into a 10-2 team in 2003 and won the Liberty Bowl, which was his first bowl win as a head coach.
Meyer one-upped himself--and just about everyone else--the following season when his Utah team went 12-0 and won the Fiesta Bowl with a 35-7 victory over Pittsburgh.
Meyer won a slew of National Coach of the Year Awards in 2004, including the Woody Hayes Trophy, which is given by the Touchdown Club of Columbus to the nation's top head coach.
It was the success at Utah that made Meyer the hottest name in coaching, and when Florida fired Ron Zook, there weren't two more natural fits for eachother.
In Meyer's second season at Florida, the Gators won the BCS National Championship, defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 41-14 in Glendale, Arizona. Meyer was named the National Coach of the Year by the All-American Football Foundation following the season.
In 2008 Meyer became the first head coach with two BCS National Championships when his Gators defeated Oklahoma 24-14 in Miami, Florida. His 2008 Florida team scored 611 points, which was the most in SEC history.
His 2009 team finished 13-1 with a loss in the SEC Championship Game. The 2009 senior class finished 48-7 over their four-year careers, which was the winningest mark in SEC history.
Meyer retired following the 2010 season, citing the desire to spend more time with his family.
Meyer owns a 104-23 record as a head coach and was named the National Coach of the Decade by both The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.
He spent the bulk of the 2011 college football season broadcasting college football games with Buckeye legend Chris Spielman, including the Ohio State season opener against the Akron Zips.
Today's return for Meyer is different. This time he comes back to Ohio State not as a visitor, or an analyst, or an assistant coach. He returns as the head football coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes, which is something that only 24 other men can say, and it's unlikely that many would say it prouder.
Meyer's college coaching career began at Ohio State and if he has his way, it will likely end at Ohio State, and with many more trophies yet to come.
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