GENE SMITH: Good
afternoon, everyone. And thank you for
being here. I appreciate you taking the
time out of your schedules to share a great announcement with us.
We just had an opportunity to speak
to the football team. I'm sure Urban
will talk about that. And had an
opportunity to spend some time with President Gee earlier today.
We're really fortunate to
have this opportunity to announce our next head football coach at The Ohio
State University, Mr. Urban Meyer.
I think we
all know that Coach Meyer is known for a lot of things. He's a great football coach. But more importantly, he's an outstanding
great leader in our industry. He's from
Ohio. Born and raised. And when we went out looking for a football
coach, we were particularly looking for an individual that had integrity, that
demonstrated outstanding leadership.
you think of people who understand what leadership is, they're usually those people
who have been through a multitude of experiences in their lives as leaders.
background has provided him a unique opportunity to lead different programs in
different environments with different cultures. Bowling Green State University, the University of Utah, and the
University of Florida.
had an opportunity to step away from the game and reflect back on the
experiences that he has had to allow him to form the leadership skills that he
As you all
know, we're the total sum of experiences in life. He is without a shadow of a doubt one of the
premier leaders in football. It's
represented in his record. But more
importantly, it's represented in him, the man.
thing we were looking for is someone who was an outstanding coach, but
outstanding recruiter, someone who understands that in the state of Ohio we're
blessed to have great high school football coaches, great high school football
coaches who create great programs, who young men have an opportunity to grow in
and ultimately dream of the chance to go and play at a collegiate level.
We wanted a
football coach who understood that, who would create the environment here with
the aspiration for every single football player in the state of Ohio is to be a
Buckeye and come to The Ohio State University and have no other thought.
Ohio, born and raised, having an opportunity to coach here under Earl Bruce,
fortunate enough to marry his boss from Ohio; he gets it. At different times in organizations, teams,
groups, whatever, there's the right time for certain leaders. This is the right time for Urban Meyer to
lead our football program.
to our environment an understanding that to be a great leader you have to
implement different styles of leadership, seamless and indifferent measure,
depending on the business situation. His
experiences afford him that opportunity to do that here.
blessed to have him as our football coach. Let me also take this opportunity to thank Luke Fickell. There's no question, we all know it, that
Luke and this staff took on an unbelievable challenge to lead this football
program through this particular year at this particular time, and he was the
right leader for that time to lead this football program.
And I think
we all saw it on the field of play, different situations at different times,
that he responded. So I want to publicly
thank Luke and the staff for taking on the challenge and leading these young
men through this challenging season.
Fickell will continue to be our coach for the Bowl game. He will be the head coach for the Bowl
game. Coach Meyer will take on the task
of forming his staff, putting together his organizational structure that fits
his leadership style, and recruiting. But Luke Fickell will be our head coach for the football game.
I want to
share with you a little information about the process because I know you have
questions on that. Urban and I go back
quite a ways and have known each other for a while.
conversation about this job was on Sunday, November 20th. There was no previous conversations about
this job until Sunday, November 20th.
We had a
search committee that President Gee formed that included myself, President Gee;
Chris Kelley, our Vice President and General Counsel; Jeff Kaplan, our
Executive Vice President for Advancement and Special Assistant to the
President; two trustees, Alex Shumate and Robert Schottenstein.
I took a
slate of candidates to that group to discuss, and ultimately we vetted it down
to Urban Meyer being the individual that we wanted to talk to, and I talked to
him on November 20th. And
ultimately we went to see him on November 23rd and spent time with him.
past ‑‑ yesterday ‑‑ I'm forgetting what day
it is ‑‑ yesterday, Sunday, we actually presented an offer to
Urban Meyer for the job at The Ohio State University, and this morning he
accepted it. And that is the process.
fortunate to have a man who gets it, who has great understanding of the rich
history and tradition that is embedded in The Ohio State University and
embedded in being a Buckeye. So I want
to thank he and his family for taking on this leadership role. Congratulate them for coming home, because at
the end of the day they're coming home to Ohio.
introduce to you our head football coach, Urban Meyer.
COACH MEYER: Thanks, Gene. I'm deeply honored and humbled that Dr. Gee, the trustees, and Gene
Smith have selected us to lead The Ohio State University football program.
It's a great opportunity to come
back to my home state where I was born and where I grew up, where I went to
school and met my wife, who was the Miss Junior Ross County Fair Queen,
something like that, 19 ‑‑ what was it, Gene says 1983. That's exactly right.
I began my college coaching
career at Ohio State in 1987, working for Hall of Fame Coach Earle Bruce. My relationship with him is extremely close,
second only to my father.
of my career, every part of my family life, Coach Bruce has always been there. So close that he was graciously enough to
speak at my father's funeral just last Friday.
I made the
decision to step away from coaching a year ago to focus on family and determine
if I could some day return to a profession that I love and I realized I missed
so dearly last February.
I did that,
after having an opportunity to work for ESPN, watch my kids compete, and also
reflect and research on ways that I could improve.
been an exceptional experience. And I'm
grateful for the opportunity; and if it was but for the coaching position at
The Ohio State University, I would not have coached this coming year.
the opportunity to once again work with the state of Ohio high school coaches
and re‑establish the many relationships that I had that existed the
previous 25 years.
objective is simple: It's to make the
state of Ohio proud; recruit student‑athletes that will win in the
classroom and win on the field.
to go about and try to assemble the best coaching staff in college
football. Our goal is to compete and win
Big Ten championships. I'd like to
introduce my wife, Shelley, my son Nate, my sister Gisela ‑ Gigi ‑
and my brother‑in‑law Jim Escoe. Thank you very much, and I'll certainly answer questions for you.
GENE SMITH: Questions?
Q. Given what the program has been through in
the last six months to a year, what's the biggest need? What's your first job? The on‑field product or the conduct or
the way this program carries itself off the field?
COACH MEYER: Well, I don't think it's broke. I've done a lot of research. I don't think Ohio State's broke. I think there's some obvious mistakes made on
the grand scheme of things, mistakes that are very correctible.
My goal right now is to put together
a fantastic recruiting class and I've had ‑‑ I've been very
fortunate ‑‑ if you look back at the last 10 years of being
head coach I've coached with arguably the best group of assistant coaches a
good majority of them either been head coaches, they are head coaches now.
I think Ohio State deserves
the best group of assistant coaches in America. Some will be on this staff. Some
will be from anywhere in the country. The calls I've been getting and people of interest in this great
university is overwhelming.
my focus right now. And I just met with
the team. Had a great team meeting. Good‑looking group of players. I asked them to play and be respectful of
this great school of the coaching staff and go out and find a way to win a Bowl
game. Have a good taste in your mouth
and let's start on January 2nd moving forward.
Q. Healthwise, how are you? That was part of the reason you stepped down. And the contract is for six years, are you
hoping to fulfill the entire six years?
COACH MEYER: Healthwise I feel great. I had a health scare a couple of years ago
that made me sit back, reflect. I didn't
feel right. But I feel fantastic now. And I gotta ‑‑ I just took
that opportunity to do two things. First
of all, get my health get my family ‑‑ I wanted to go spend
time ‑‑ I missed so much of them growing up.
But I also went out and I researched
and I spent time with colleagues, colleagues that I respect in this
profession. And I don't want to be one
of those guys that's sleeping in the office saying I missed this, I missed
Believe it or not there's lot
of quality coaches out there that are still able to have a little bit of
balance. I was proud I had balance for
quite a while. I lost that near the end.
is in good shape. I've been checked out
over and over again. I feel
fantastic. And I'm ready to go.
Q. Did you think ‑‑ could you even wrap your mind
around a year ago that you would be standing here now, and is it surreal that
COACH MEYER: Well, a year ago I was ‑‑ in
my mind I was convinced I was done coaching. I was concerned with health issues. Family. I just wanted to be
Also I didn't like the state of
college football. A lot of stuff going
on. I'd hear about all kinds of things
going on. And I just didn't want to be a
part of that.
Then I moved away. Went on with ESPN. And I did a lot of travel, spent a lot of
time with my kids. And then I didn't
realize I'd miss it so bad.
Shelley and I went for a walk one day, and I looked at her and I said: I don't think I can do this. She started rolling her eyes at me
again. She's had to deal with me for 22
years, really 27 years.
But I said
I want to do this again. I had no idea
thinking it was going to be in a year. Certainly Ohio State had a great football coach, great football
program. If this was the one, then that
would be the one.
answer your question, absolutely zero thought about coaching at Ohio State.
Q. What are you looking for in a coaching staff and which of the
current staff members are you planning to keep and what role?
COACH MEYER: That's a great question. I think first thing you look at is fit. And fit means it's a Midwestern school. It competes in the Big Ten conference. You have to recruit Ohio and the surrounding
areas. That's critical. Ohio background is key.
If you can find any guys with any
kind of Ohio background; however, I would not put that in front of quality
The players deserve ‑‑
the way I do it, if you're the best secondary coach in college football, I'm
going to try to get you to come here coach at Ohio State. If you're the best offensive line coach, I'm
going to do my very best to get you to come here.
I was very
fortunate, in 2005 ‑‑ I know this is a little biased ‑‑
I think we put together the best coaching staff, group of assistant coaches
maybe in college football history. I
know that's a profound statement. But
what those guys did, the recruits they brought in and the run that team went
on, with the great players, the style of offense, defense and kicking game, my
goal is to find that kind of group of coaches again.
staff, Luke Fickell ‑‑ I met Luke three years ago. I believe he came down ‑‑ as
a matter of fact, it was before we played Ohio State in the '06 game. So it was spring of '06. Luke and Tim Beckman, a former coach of mine
now at Toledo, obviously, came down. First time I met Luke. I watched
his defenses over the years.
great respect. I know what kind of guy
he is. He's an Ohio guy, a Buckeye. I knew him from afar. I watched closely how he handled the
situation. I thought he's a man's man. Obviously he's everything that you hope for
for a Ohio State former player.
I wanted to
research what kind of coach he was. And
I did a lot of research. I called some
of the colleagues that have worked with him. I've watched his film over and over again. That's the greatest thing about coaching,
it's very evaluation‑friendly. And
then I needed to meet with him.
night, Shelley and I ‑‑ and without asking he brought his
beautiful wife, Amy, and they sat with us three, almost four hours.
wanted to do the due process and due diligence, and we said we'll talk to ‑‑
I asked him to come back and have coffee with me 7:00 a.m.
I prayed about it. We talked about
it. We took our time. Next morning, we woke up. I looked at her again. She's a better judge of talent than I
am. And there's no doubt I wanted him to
be a part of this team. And he was very
open and shook my hand, a big smile on his face, and we called Miss Amy and she
was great. And it was a very good moment
for Ohio State.
Q. How daunting is it that there's still NCAA final sanctions that
haven't come down yet and it could entail a Bowl ban or additional scholarships
that you might have to deal with next year?
COACH MEYER: I think that's where the faith and trust has
to come in. I have great trust and faith
in our athletic director and president, Dr. Gee and Gene here, that that
conversation was had.
On my own, I did a little bit of
research. But at the end of the day I
asked the same question you did: Is
there anything behind Door No. 2, 3, 4, and I feel very confident and have
great trust that there's not.
We'll have to deal with the
scholarship issue, and I have great trust that we will and we'll move forward.
Q. Urban, you have a reputation for being a very committed coach, a
very intense coach. How much do you feel
you will be pretty much the same guy you were at Florida or how much in the end
do you think you'll be a little bit different in how you coach right now?
COACH MEYER: I coached at Florida I went through
stages. I hope I'm the same guy ‑‑
not hope ‑‑ I will be the same guy that the beginning of the
tenure. And that was a guy that did have
balance, a guy that took care of himself, a guy that did not try to get
involved and change everything.
I think as it rolled on, we were
dealing with magical things there. I
call it the pursuit of perfection. I
think at the end of the day we all know there's no such thing. I fell victim to that.
And so I'm not going to ‑‑
I've been to a place I'm not going to go back. And I'm sure there's a lot of people in this room maybe been places they
don't want to go. And I was there. I'm not going back.
Q. When you hear the name Braxton Miller, what goes through your
COACH MEYER: I just met Braxton. And I wanted to meet Braxton. That was very important. All due respect, everybody in this room, that
was the highlight of my day, not this.
Sitting there shaking hands with
that good‑looking quarterback with a nice smile and a very humble
player. I watched him play throughout
the year. I've watched him compete in
the big game.
And to say to tell you I'm
excited to coach him, I'm not using the correct adjectives. And because there's mixed company around I'm
not going to use the correct adjectives, how excited I am.
So I think
you get it, right? Really excited.
Q. What did you not like about college football that might have influenced
your decision to step away, and how has it become more to your liking in the
last 12 months?
COACH MEYER: That's hard. I want to say this the right way. I tried to do other people's jobs, because I'd sit in the staff room. I'd hear about all the nonsense going on and
where were recruits, why they were going here, and what's going on.
That's age‑old. And I tried to, maybe a fault, I think some
things were going on, obviously there were, because all you do is read the
newspapers for the last 12 months or last two years, and we all make mistakes,
but willful and intentful mistakes I have a real problem with that.
I let that not destroy me,
but ESPN ‑‑ we were at a little seminar this summer, and a guy
made a great, gave a presentation. He talked
about just keeping it in center field. ESPN does a great job keeping it in center field.
sitting doodling, making notes, my problem was I left center field. I tried to cure NCAA issues, started trying
to cure agent issues, maybe drug issues, whatever. I went out of center field.
people that get paid a lot of money and very professional, that's their
obligation and responsibility to fix those things.
spending time with the NCAA and evaluating and sitting back, and you know what,
that's their job, that's not my job. So
I'm going to go about it and keep it right in center field. And that's do what I do, enjoy doing,
coaching guys like Braxton Miller and some of these great players here at Ohio
Q. How would you describe your style, what you want out of a
football team if you had to put it into words? I've got two questions. I want to
ask that one first.
COACH MEYER: I think go hard. I mean, like relentless. I want a bunch of coaches that coach like
their hair's on fire, and I want a football team that goes four to six seconds
of relentless effort. You do that, you
have a chance to win in every game you play.
Go out and recruit some good
players. The formula is real
simple. Go recruit some really good players
that know how to compete, are tough, go surround them with the best coaches in
the country, you usually find a way to win a few games. That's the formula we're going to use here,
and we're going to go really, really hard.
Q. When did Ohio State just put its feelers out
to you? Obviously November 20th is
when you sat down or when you got contacted formally. When did Ohio State first start making some
contacts or vice versa?
COACH MEYER: Last Sunday. I mean, I got like a ridiculous amount of letters and e‑mails,
you're not talking about that, I don't know how people got my phone
number. But I mean ‑‑
Q. Word out that you were being courted.
COACH MEYER: But it was some 12‑year‑old
wearing Ohio State sweatshirts, I think. Come on, Coach, let's go. It was
Q. Coach, through the years, especially
recently, too, coaches from your neck of the woods down in Florida have been
able to come up to our area and grab recruits. There was one particular person in Springfield that Nick Sabin was able
to come up and get to. What do you think
you'll be able to bring to the Ohio State staff to prevent people from going
out of state?
COACH MEYER: That's tough. The SEC is hot right now. And
I've recruited against Alabama as well. They're hot. But so is Ohio
State. So we're going to do ‑‑
that all goes back to our best recruiters, and I just talked to our players
about that. First are them, then it's
your group of assistant coaches that you bring in.
So I'm going to ‑‑
you put together the right staff, you can ‑‑ I'm not saying
stop that ‑‑ but you can ‑‑
Q. What title will Luke have on the staff, and
two‑part, your take on the OSU/Michigan game?
COACH MEYER: Question number one, Luke, I don't want to
speak before I'm ready to speak. It will
be a significant title and significant position on our staff. Luke and I, we have not even had that
conversation. We will shortly. Because I want his expertise in helping me
put together the staff.
Second, obviously that's the game of
games. That's the game that I grew up
watching. It's a game that I thought
teams, both teams played very hard. It's
also a team that the next game is 362 days away.
So I understand the
significance of it. And I remember my
experience in that game was the first year when Jim Harbaugh guaranteed to win
here in Ohio Stadium, and the second one was Coach Bruce's final game at
Michigan, and we were able to beat Bo Schembechler and Michigan. So the one thing I know about that game, as
much as there is dislike and hatred across college football in some rivalries,
there's a share of that, but there's also a lot of respect in that rivalry, and
I'm looking forward to coaching in it.
Q. You've had the rare opportunity to look at the football team
you're about to coach with a critical eye from the broadcast booth. I wonder what deficiencies you maybe see as
you come into this job in the football team and how you might attack those best
COACH MEYER: Well, I think Luke's better at that, because
I didn't have a good feel of who is coming back, who is hurt. Nathan Williams, I got to see him. I think he's not a good player, I think he's
a great player. He's kind of the heart
and soul. When he went out, that hurt
us, hurt Ohio State.
I think Braxton Miller is a
difference‑maker at quarterback. You can build a team around what I saw.
But until I get my hands on
them, obviously end of spring I can be real detailed. So what I see I'm really going to lean on
Coach Fickell. I've already had that discussion
with him. He made the comment we need
depth at linebacker and pick that position up a little bit.
other areas I'd rather not comment on until I get my hands on it, though.
Q. You've had the good fortune everywhere you've gone as a head
coach to have a good, inherit a good quarterback or great quarterback. Josh Harris at BG and Alex Smith at Utah, and
Chris Leak, and now Braxton. Can you
talk about how that makes a job easier coming in the door when you have
somebody like Josh Harris?
COACH MEYER: Josh Harris is right there, by the way. I'd like to think that ‑‑ I
kind of ‑‑ that's not why you select a job. However, when you are getting ready to make a
decision, you do look at that, because you don't have time to really build a program
nowadays. You need to get going and find
a way to win.
And I watched Braxton very
close. But what that means ‑‑
at Bowling Green obviously it meant instant success. Josh was a tailback, converted to
quarterback, that ended up being one of the best players I've ever been around.
Obviously that guy, that
little skinny guy at Utah, Alex, is doing fine in the NFL now and great player,
great competitor. And then Chris Leak,
what a magical player. And obviously the
guy that came behind him.
been blessed to have some great quarterbacks. And I'm really thinking this guy can be ‑‑ I'm putting
a lot of pressure on this cat already ‑‑ but he's
special. What I've seen on film he's
Q. Urban, given your health issues and your situation at Florida,
did you have any second thoughts at all about coming to a program like this
where you've obviously been here before and you know the interest and the
magnitude of the coverage and all that stuff?
COACH MEYER: Yes, second, third, fourth, fifth, a lot of
thoughts. There's no people more
important than my three children and my wife. They had some second thoughts. We
had a meeting. As a matter of fact, I
showed Gene this not too long ago. This
is a contract that my kids made me sign before I was allowed to sign a real
It's tougher than any other contract
I've signed in my life. So, yeah, a lot
of thought. I don't want to spend all
day talking about that, but I feel very blessed to be able to stand here, to
know where I was and where I don't want to go again. And maybe help others.
Because what's amazing in
this profession I found out a lot of guys, you just ‑‑ not
just this profession, what are we talking about, this is an age‑old
problem about the executive or the doctor or the lawyer or the teacher, the
professor, the policeman that just gets so enamored or so consumed by their
profession that they forget really the purpose of our whole deal is, and that's
to raise a wonderful family.
And so Gene
and I have talked about this. There's
ways to, whether it be teaching class, whether speaking, writing a book or
whatever, that's part of the issues we deal with today, is when you see people
too consumed with their profession that they let things go at home and then
that costs them down the road.
So I don't
want to get too philosophical on you, but that played a major role. When you said second, third, fourth
discussion, that was a big part of it.
Q. First of all, two‑part question. Have you made any determination at all on Mike
Vrabel and his presence or absence on the staff to come?
COACH MEYER: I have not. I look forward to it. I have not
met with Mike yet. I'm going to soon. I'm a big Vrabel fan.
I don't know him as a coach. I'm going to go watch a little bit. I have the ability to go watch. A that's never recruited. He played for a great friend of mine. I'm eventually reach out to Coach Belichick
when it's time. But Luke Fickell would
be the best expert on that because he's worked with him all season. And I'm going to lean on him quite a bit for
Q. Also different body type obviously between
Tebow and Braxton, one's like a fullback and one is kind of a scat back, but
how many similarities are there?
COACH MEYER: I don't know. I like the way he throws. I think
he's a ridiculous athlete. But you can
stop ridiculous athletes by loading you up. And I like his delivery.
We'll have some great conversation
throughout spring practice and after spring. But I'm just real excited. I
think he could be special.
Q. How do you describe your style in terms of a
disciplinary coach when you lay down the law to your players to do the right
thing; how do you go about doing that? What's your style? Can you tell
us about that?
COACH MEYER: Great question. I know there's been some issues that we've
had that I've had to deal with, not that we're proud of. We have a set of core values. Honesty, respect. Number one, treat everyone with respect. Number two, no drugs, no stealing, no
weapons. Those are core value
issues. You're either dismissed or you
miss a good bunch of time playing the game.
Most everything else are
mistakes. Sometimes you're in a college
town where things get ‑‑ anything ‑‑ all of a
sudden it's on the front page of the paper. So the issues we had ‑‑ I see numbers of arrests and
the numbers I see are exaggerated.
I know what we've had to deal
with. If we had one, that's too
many. Our job as a coaching staff is to
mentor, to discipline and to educate young people. And we've had a pretty good track
record. We ran some bumps in the road at
the University of Florida.
mean we had bad kids? I'll fight that
forever. No, absolutely not, we did not
have bad guys. Did they make stupid
mistakes. Yeah, I've made a few stupid
mistakes. We're going to correct
them. We're going to go really hard and
try to recruit really good people to represent Ohio State. That does not mean we're going to give up on
kids. So that's kind of the belief we
Q. My question is I've been from Ohio. I grew up Ohio, was born here, raised. From the time I knew what Ohio State was I've
always wanted to come here, Ohio State has been my passion. My question to you s how long has it been
your dream to be standing up there right now?
COACH MEYER: You were pretty passionate. That's good. You went for about a minute telling us how much you loved Ohio State. As far back as I can remember.
The one thing I do remember is
walking ‑‑ Thanksgiving time and walking around, and we had to
go shopping. And I was with my mom for
something. I remember the loud speakers
in Ashtabula, Ohio. They were playing
the Woody Hayes versus Bo Schembechler, Ohio State versus Michigan. I was enamored. The whole city shut down. That's all they listened to, as far back as I
can remember. Other than those 60
minutes in Glendale.
I've always followed the
Buckeyes, though. I will say this: My six years in Florida, Florida was my dream
job. Everybody says: Is Ohio State your dream job? That's a term that's thrown around really
loosely. To say I was this big and
wanted to coach at Florida. No, I'm not
from Florida. The way Coach Spurrier and
the way I really became a huge fan, I wanted to coach there.
always be a Gator, will always be a part of that situation. Jeremy Foley, had a great conversation with
him today and yesterday. Bernie Machen,
the president down there, is one of my great friends. However, this is my home state. And it's great to be back home.
Q. Let me follow up with a tradition. You have a portrait of Woody Hayes in your
house. And I think as a kid you wore No.
45. You were here the year before Coach
Hayes died. Did you ever have a chance
to talk with him, meet him here, speak, anything of that nature?
COACH MEYER: I sure did. I went over to the ROTC building and met with him. My wife Shelley is from Chillicothe. We were at a recruiting dinner at the Scarlet
and Gray Golf Course.
We were sitting there. Coach Hayes was in a wheelchair, wasn't doing
very good. She asked me, she said: Let's go meet Coach Hayes. About 30 people in line. Near the end of recruiting. I said: I'll bring you over to his office some time. I still regret that to this day. So does she, that she never had a chance to
meet Coach Hayes.
But to say ‑‑
a fan is not a strong enough word. To
think I admired him, yes, and there's always been a portrait in my house
of Coach Hayes. And obviously my mentor,
Coach Bruce, is here as well.
So it goes
back real thick, real strong and real thick, the admiration I have for Coach
Hayes and Coach Bruce.
Q. Do you remember your first time in Ohio Stadium and if you can
reflect on that for me?
COACH MEYER: You know, I don't. I believe it was Tom Cousineau had some
ridiculous amount of tackles, like a 30‑tackle game. Might have been a Michigan game. That was so long ago. But I remember the stadium very well.
I came back this year. And I was with my teammate Chris Spielman,
who is here today and a great friend. And the band came out. And I used
to sneak out when I was a GA here at Ohio State. And we had the old locker room.
And I knew exactly, it was,
what, 12:15 or there's a game clock in the locker room. And I would always know, it was like 16:36
when the band would come out. Coach
Bruce would doing his stuff. I would
look at the clock, shoot down the stairs and just watch the band come out, play
across the field, march across the field.
And so I
haven't been back since 1988 in that stadium against Akron. I'm up there with Chris and Dave Pass,
getting ready to broadcast that game, and that band came out of that tunnel, I
was wiping tears out of my eyes and all the memories came back.
Q. Do you think that you can lead Ohio State with its current
personnel to a national championship within the next few years? And also you've won a couple of national
championships and one being against Ohio State. What would it mean for you to bring a national championship back to
COACH MEYER: Wow. I'm just trying to get to tomorrow, man. I'm trying to go make some recruit calls
tonight and I'll get to know these guys.
So with all due respect, wow, I
don't know. I'm going to try to really
put together a good coaching staff and do the best we can.
Q. Earl Bruce, I believe, called his own
plays. Are you going to call plays? Are you going to have an offensive
coordinator? Your thoughts on that and
running the spread. People are pretty
excited about that.
COACH MEYER: We're going to hire an offensive
coordinator. One of the issues that I'm
dealing with right now is my guys are all gone. Everybody has their little coaching tree. And mine ‑‑ the Bowling
Green Utah crew, they're all, one's at Michigan, Greg Madison, great football
coach, and a bunch of head coaches all around the country. So I'm going to go and have to find a guy.
We're going to run the spread. The spread is also going to have some I
formation pro style in it which we've always done, we'll try to adapt it the
best we can. The good thing is we have a
tight end here, with Jake. And some big
backs. You try to adapt to what you've
So it's going to be some
spread elements. But there's also going
to be other stuff involved. I will hire
a play caller offensive coordinator. I
will call plays myself and be very involved in that like I've done in the
past. But I need to hire a really good
offensive coordinator, and I've been blessed to have some great ones.
Q. Obviously all of Ohio very important, but can you talk about how
important it is to recruit in the Cleveland area?
COACH MEYER: I'm from Ashtabula. I know Cleveland very well. I've recruited Ohio. In my opening comments, I mentioned my
respect I have. I started my career as a
high school coach in Cincinnati Saint X. I loved these coaches here. It's
a state where you have a high school coaches association, several thousand
coaches show up to it.
Football is really, really important
in the state of Ohio. Cleveland, Ohio,
Columbus, Cincinnati, this is as good of football as there is in America. It's certainly well coached as any in
So to say that I'm excited to
go recruit Cleveland is not a strong enough statement. I'll be on the phone tonight with a couple of
guys. I can't wait to get back involved
Q. The SEC has dominated college football. You were a part of that. We hear the Big Ten's too slow, they're not
fast enough. Just your thoughts having
coached against them, and now coaching Ohio State out of the Big Ten, having to
take down the SEC, how true are those statements, and where does it have to get
COACH MEYER: I think football ‑‑ that's a
great question. That's the obvious that
SEC right now is dominant. It's a faster
league than the Big Ten. Does it mean
it's a better league? When they win, I think
it's five straight national titles. The
top three were all in one division west. Yeah, it's the best conference in college football. Does it mean the Big Ten's far behind? I don't think it's that far.
I think you'll see the game change
again. It changes all the time. There was a time where the Big 12 was pushing
the SEC for who had the best team. So I
see what the coach is doing at Michigan. I see other teams making ‑‑ Wisconsin making progress.
There's a lot of good stuff
going into this conference. How far off
we are? I think Ohio State, the team
that I saw getting ready to play the Sugar Bowl year, last year, that was ‑‑
I don't want to use that term but it was SEC speed, that was a great football
team. I was blown away because I didn't
really get to watch them. So I don't
think the Big Ten's that far off. I
think you're going to see that gap closed I hope quickly.
Q. A lot of Buckeye fans right now watching this press conference
will be watching it for the next couple of days. What would you like to say to them?
COACH MEYER: It's great to be home. And the same thing I told the players a
little bit ago, is that I realize those players didn't choose me. I chose them. So I chose to pack up and move the most precious things in my life, and
that's my family, to back home.
And it's a decision I'm very proud
of, a decision that was not thought of overnight; a decision that had a lot of
prayer, a lot of research. At the end of
the day, to tell you we're excited to be back, once again, is not a strong
enough statement. We're grateful to be
welcomed back home.
Q. You referenced a couple of times your
admiration for Coach Hayes, Coach Bruce. Can you explain how your offensive philosophy evolved in stark contrast
COACH MEYER: Ask the man himself. He's sitting right back there. Jon Gruden, who became a good friend, and I
had long discussions about this.
There's different elements of spread
offenses. You can say Texas Tech and all
these different spread offenses. The one
thing that our offense that we always tried to take great pride in is Big Ten I
formation power football. We just do it
from a unique formation, sometimes do it with a 240‑pound quarterback.
But the same ‑‑
if you look at our plays, it's the same plays that I was brought up on, split
zone and off‑tackle power. That's
a staple here at Ohio State.
motion and fake a jet sweep, but we're still running hard, aggressive downhill
football at you. We've added elements to
But if you
really cut it down and watch film and study, it's still I formation
football. Just from a unique set of
formations. It's just trying to be
creative and outnumber people. That's
all it is.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Meyer, thank you very much. (Applause).
Questions for Gene Smith.
Q. Will there be any academic requirement changes, has anything
changed in terms of academic standards for recruits?
GENE SMITH: No. The only changes that are in place obviously are the NCAA rules that
were recently voted in. But nothing from
The Ohio State University.
Q. Can you shed any light on NCAA rulings? Were you given any indication? Will it be by the end of the year? Will it be within a week? Can you narrow it down just a little bit?
GENE SMITH: We're hopeful somewhere in mid‑December
we'll have a response.
Q. And when you were in negotiations, talking to
Urban, were you able ‑‑ does the NCAA give you any insight
into what they're thinking or anything you can tell him?
GENE SMITH: No. Obviously we can't speculate on what they will do. All we can do is look at precedence, look at
cases. Some of you know we looked at
cases from January 1, 2007 that were similar to us and looked at rulings
relative to those, that's actually what drove us to imposing some of the
sanctions that we ultimately came up with.
So I'm not certain what they'll
do. So we'll just have to wait and see.
Q. I just wondered are you still (inaudible)?
GENE SMITH: When you look at all previous cases, there's
no precedences. There were a couple of
those more egregious than ours. And I'm
hopeful we won't have that.
Q. Were you able to get on the teleconference
with the NCAA this week? Are you still
going to go to the Committee on Infractions in December?
GENE SMITH: We're not required to be at the Infractions
Committee in December.
Q. How confident are you that Coach Meyer's
going to be able to fulfill this contract given some of the health issues in
GENE SMITH: Urban and I and his wife and family, we had
great conversations about his health issues. You guys heard him explain what he went through. We had a great deal of research done on
him. And I feel confident that we'll
work very hard to make sure we meet the requirement of his daughter's contract.
And we will make sure he has balance
in his life. I think if you really
listen to him, at the end of the day that's something that he needs. And I am one of those athletic directors that
believes in that.
I will work very hard to make
sure he has balance. He'll definitely go
see his daughters play volleyball. There
will be no excuse. I've heard them all
in my tenure about relative to why someone can't take a vacation. That's why they call it vacation. It's unacceptable. So I am pretty dogged on making sure that he
has the balance that affords him the opportunity to lead our young men.
Q. One of the questions that Urban answered was the difference
between the Big Ten and the SEC. And one
thing the SEC's been willing to do is invest in their assistant coaches. Is Ohio State willing to go to SEC levels in
terms of how much money they will invest in assistant coaching staff?
GENE SMITH: We'll put in place the resources necessary to
attract the staff that Urban feels he needs.
Q. Can you elaborate on that?
GENE SMITH: No.
Q. You said a year and a half ago that you
really didn't want to get into that kind of ‑‑
GENE SMITH: What year was that? 2011? Was that 2009 I said that?
Q. What has changed?
GENE SMITH: Age and maturity and competition.
Q. Were there any other candidates that were
contacted or formally interviewed?
GENE SMITH: No. I
had a slate that I'd been considering for a while through the summer and did
some serious soul searching throughout the season. Talked to a number of people. Never talked to another candidate.
Q. As Urban was being considered, did you feel
good about the idea that he would want to come here, or how much persuading did
Ohio State have to do to get him to come back into coaching and take this job?
GENE SMITH: It was interesting. That Sunday, we had a great
conversation. And obviously we've had
former players who had a relationship with him who had been sending me messages
that, you know, you ought to talk to him. And so I felt comfortable when I did talk to him that I'd have a great
entrée into the conversation.
So I want to thank those former
players for sending me texts and all that type of stuff. But I feel confident when I was first made
that contact that we have a good discussion.
And so once we got into it,
he was pretty passionate about it. Then
we had ‑‑ obviously I had a series of questions many of you
asked here today, that I needed to vet.
And I spent
a lot of time that Sunday night, Monday, Tuesday, and then ultimately when we met
with him on Wednesday, hard, hard conversations face to face for the first
So I wasn't
sure really until we got there Wednesday and looked him in the eye and met
Shelley. Shelley was in the room and
actually talked through really what he talked about today.
Okay. This guy's actually prepared to come back
into it the right way. So kind of a long
way to answer your question, but that's really what happened.
Q. Gene, was having the current staff handle the Bowl game really
the only way to go about this? And how
much impact will Coach Meyer have, game plan, things along those lines as far
as the Bowl game is concerned?
GENE SMITH: All of you have seen it, I've seen it. I've handled it before, seen it in different
ways. And I just felt with this staff
and this team, and we're fortunate, rarely do you have a chance to have your
new head coach come on this way, this fast, without a staff. So it's slightly unique compared to other
experiences. So it affords you an
opportunity to look at it differently. So I felt that this staff was the right staff to coach this team.
And particularly knowing that Urban
really wanted to hopefully have a conversation with Luke, and he was hopeful
going into that conversation that they would click, hit it off and Luke would
ultimately still be here. So that gave
me a little edge obviously. And so I
just felt that this was the right way to do it. And in all likelihood there could be some of those staff members who
ultimately pursue other opportunities and we'll have to deal with that when it
It will be a little fluid in
that regard, but we can manage it.
Q. (Question off microphone)
GENE SMITH: Urban, nothing. We'll separate Urban from coaching this
team. The reality is he will ‑‑
he'll go to practice on occasion. But he
will focus on building his staff, building his organization and
recruiting. He will not be involved in
Q. (Question off microphone)
GENE SMITH: You know, it's funny. I've heard that, I've never really thought of
it that way. I really haven't. We've had issues that we should not have, and
we need to operate differently to avoid those in the future. I would never ever, ever hope that things
would happen to another school, at another school to make our situation
So I've never looked at it that
way. I understand what you're saying,
but other people can probably project that, but I would never ever say that and
I never thought it that way.
It's unfortunate what's
happened at those schools. And I would
wish that on no school. So thank you
guys for coming, appreciate your patience. Thank you.