Thought: Urban Meyer's great first year
Posted Nov 4, 2012

Harrison Thought: Urban Meyer's great first year at Ohio State

Urban Meyer-Getting it Done at Ohio State
By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

Two national titles, four conference titles, seven bowl wins, an .828 winning percentage, and multiple national coach of the year awards. Those are just some of the tangible accolades to describe the young, yet esteemed coaching career of Urban Frank Meyer.

But nobody makes it to the top of his profession by accident. Meyer is a tireless recruiter, schematic trailblazer, and maybe most importantly, a master motivator.

It is that last attribute that has been worth its weight in gold this year.

In most years, there is a big-prized carrot to dangle in front of a burgeoning team. It's not simply enough to load a team with talent and then not provide dreams, goals and aspirations to plod, tweak, and keep a team accountable for its work on the field. And what better dream and prize to put up on the bulletin board in training camp than the chance for conference and national glory? How about an opportunity to travel to a bowl site, take in some sights, get some bowl swag, and waltz away as "champion?"

But this year isn't your run of the mill year on the banks of the Olentangy. There is no pot of gold at the end of the college football rainbow, no medal to bestow, and no bowl parties to attend. Ohio State instead, is in the midst of a season in purgatory. A season in which playing for pride alone seems more like a carrot that has been peeled, chopped, devoured and spit back out. There it is boys, go get it.

Sure, there's a division "title" to play for, but never has that been a stopping point along the gravy train for a program like Ohio State. The Buckeyes, like a handful of other teams in this great nation of ours, measure success by conference and national titles. Nothing less.

And that's where we pick things back up with the job that Urban Meyer is doing this year at Ohio State. He has had to keep this year's team focused on a week-to-week basis despite the big elephant in the locker room trumpeting loud and clear a message of finality once the season ends on November 24. It's the equivalent of getting dressed to the nines with no place to go.

Yet somehow, despite some glaring holes on this year's Ohio State team, the record says all we need to know. After laying a beat-down on Illinois this past weekend, OSU now sits as the only team in the nation with a perfect 10-0 record. That's right, ten up, and nill down. One word comes to mind.


One only need to look at a few examples across the country to see how difficult it is to keep a team focused once goals and aspirations have expired. Look in Blacksburg where Virginia Tech seems to have relinquished control of its season, or Morgantown where a Heisman campaign has evaporated at the same rate as national title hopes. Even just around the block in Ohio State's own neighborhood, the Michigan State Spartans seemed to have lost interest in things once the going got really tough. And then there's the Illinois debacle that has gone south faster than a retiree trying to get out of Dodge before winter snow flies.

Examples abound all around the country.

But not this Urban Meyer led Ohio State team. If this team had given up on a lost season, it would have folded when a game California team came into the Horseshoe and had it on the ropes. The Buckeyes would have thrown in the towel when it traveled to East Lansing and got punched in the mouth. Chips would have been cashed in when an underachieving Purdue team had the scarlet and gray feeling blue late in regulation with a backup QB trying to lead an improbable comeback.

But none of that happened. Instead, each time this Ohio State team answered the bell and beat back complacency to keep its record unblemished.

And who do we have to thank for the resiliency? Certainly there are many stakeholders responsible for this improbable run. The seniors on this team who have no shot to finish their careers on top deserve some credit, as do the others on the coaching staff who come to work each day and work their tails off to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

But if a coach gets all the blame when things don't go right, then certainly the man responsible for bringing it all together deserves more than a sliver of recognition for what's happening in Central Ohio. Urban Meyer has been able to push all the right buttons, tug on all the correct strings, and plug round pegs in obtuse, triangle-shaped holes all season long. At least up to this point.

The season is not over yet, not by a long shot. Many around the program will tell you that beating Wisconsin on the road and then putting the momentum of the OSU vs. Michigan rivalry back on the scarlet and gray sideline will mean more than the combined body of work to date. That's just the way it works at a place such as Ohio State.

But before we get there, let's give credit where credit is due and commend Urban Meyer for the success his team has had so far this season. There have been better teams with much more to play for who have flopped and rolled their way to disappointing seasons. There have been an avalanche of teams who--given the chance--would climb up the wrong tree in a forest of just one tree.

Nothing could be further from the truth despite what happens in the remaining two games for the 2012 version of the Urban Meyer led Ohio State Buckeyes. He'll never be recognized for it, but this may just be Meyer's best coaching performance of his career.

Are you feeling motivated yet?