Gene Smith Introduces Urban Meyer as OSU Head Football Coach
By John Porentas
Ohio State Director of Athletics Gene Smith introduced Urban Meyer as the Head Football Coach at Ohio State yesterday. Meyer succeeds one-season head coach Luke Fickell, who in turn succeeded 10-year head coach Jim Tressel.
In his opening remarks before presenting Meyer, Smith described Meyer as "a great leader in our industry" who perfectly filled his vision for a football coach that could relate to and mobilize the high school football coaches and players in the state of Ohio.
"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," said Smith.
"Being from Ohio, born and raised, having an opportunity to coach here under Earl Bruce, fortunate enough to marry his boss from Ohio; he gets it."
Smith's message included the idea that the leadership needs of any organization is a shifting thing, and that Meyer is the perfect fit for Ohio State at this moment in time.
"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," Smith said.
Fickell to Lead Buckeyes in Bowl Game
Smith also added that while Meyer is the right leader going forward, Luke Fickell was the right man for the job this past season.
"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," said Smith.
According to Smith, Fickell will continue to function as the Ohio State Head Coach through the bowl game. Until that time, Meyer will concentrate on recruiting and on assembling his coaching staff.
According to Smith, he was charged with the responsibility of creating a slate of candidates for presentation to the search committee organized by OSU president Gordon Gee. That committee was comprised of Smith, Gee, Vice President and General Counsel Chris Kelley, Executive Vice President for Advancement and Special Assistant to the President Jeff Kaplan, and two trustees, Alex Shumate and Robert Schottenstein.
That committee determined that the only candidate on Smith's list to be contacted was Meyer, who according to Smith, was contacted for the first time on November 20. OSU subsequently met with Meyer on November 23. An offer was made to Meyer on Sunday, November 27.
Meyer began his comments by mentioning his Buckeye roots, and by mentioning former OSU Head Football Coach Earle Bruce. In describing his relationship with Bruce, Meyer said "My relationship with him is extremely close, second only to my father.
"Every step 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."
In the course of the question and answer period Meyer was asked to address many issues.
On the Current Status of the OSU Football Program: "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 correctable."
On his immediate priorities: "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. "
On the status of his health: "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. "
On his formula for success at Ohio State: 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."
On his passion for Ohio State Football: 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."
On what message he would give to Buckeye Fans: 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."
Follow the link below o see a complete transcript of the remarks of Smith and Meyer.