On Friday, former Ohio state soccer coach Urban Meyer sat down with The Dispatch in his first interview since retiring.
The story of his adaptation described his adaptation to his new role as assistant sports director. But the interview contained many more reasons that did not fit into this story or needed to be condensed.
Here’s more from that conversation:
• Meyer said his job as assistant sports director was largely tied to the new Gene Smith Leadership Institute and an offshoot of Real Life Wednesday’s football program, which is now expanding to all 36 OSU sports teams. Wednesdays in real life include having celebrity guest speakers and preparing players for their post-athletics careers.
Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
Meyer met every month with captains from all Ohio state teams. He said that in addition to career preparation, each team selects and works on 3-4 social issues – mental health, Title IX, substance abuse, relationship issues, etc. Meyer also deals with leadership issues with them.
“I always say one of the most misunderstood and overused words in the English language is leadership,” said Meyer.
The roots of his emphasis on leadership began for Meyer while he was in Florida, realizing that a mere degree alone was not enough to prepare for a post-game career.
“It’s something very honest, in my early career I didn’t really understand it,” said Meyer. “The older I got, and really got to be in Ohio, the more systematic it became in teaching our team leadership.”
The Wednesday Real Life program has proven to be an invaluable recruiting tool as OSU could convince parents to give their son the opportunity to make a career after football.
“I’m very proud that we did that,” he said. “Most programs in America now have this because of the recruitment. That was our difference. When we started going to Georgia and beating SEC teams and going to Texas and beating Big 12 teams against each other, it wasn’t the weather. It was because if a player was serious about their life after the game, we had this kid.
“If the head coach can reach across the table and say, ‘Your son will have a job, if he does this, this and that, we will set it up and he will have a career when the sport is over. ‘I can’t tell you how many times they got up and said,’ OK, we’re good. ‘ “
• Meyer on teaching a leadership class with Charles Buchanan at the Fisher School of Business:
“One thing about science is that a lot of it is theory,” said Meyer. “There was no theory in this class. There is a man who has done several tours as a lieutenant colonel in our country overseas. There is a man who has coached football for over three decades. It was a real life experience. Lots of dialogue. It was based on virtues and vices – Aristotle (moral virtues). It was a class he taught before. I gave guest lectures beforehand.
“I gave them different leadership styles and situations dealing with virtue and vice. Excessive virtue can turn into vice. Too much courage and you are inconsiderate. Too much compassion and you’re soft. Like him, I have given real life examples. Here was a man who led people into very difficult situations in the military – life and death – which is far more serious than leading your football team into a very serious situation. “
About 200 students attended the class, which was not based on lectures.
“It was direct teaching, constant dialogue,” he said. “The response was fantastic. I love the students. We had a great time studying (as teachers) and they learned. “
Was he a tough grader?
“I left all the grading to Charles,” he said.
• Meyer said he spoke to about 30 groups on campus as a token of appreciation for the support he had received during his seven years as a coach.
“I would always tell some funny stories,” said Meyer. “I would always talk about the 4-1 win against our rival.”
That was JT Barrett’s famous 2016 overtime goalkeeper, who was counted as the first failure – Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh asked to distinguish himself – before Curtis Samuel won the game in the next game.
Now that he’s no longer a coach, can he be sure if that was the right call?
“He absolutely did it,” said Meyer.
Meyer said he also speaks about the 2014 championship team, what he calls “the incredible run” and “the transformation” of Cardale Jones.
“The love of unity,” said Meyer. “I call this solving the riddle. How did he become the legendary Cardale Jones? He has learned to put the team in front of itself. “
• Meyer on what surprised him most in his new role over the past five months: “Just my appreciation for all the other coaches. I didn’t get a chance to meet her because you step into a cocoon at Woody (Hayes Athletic Center). And your appreciation for the sports ADs. You speak of incredible coaches and staff. Gene put together an (excellent) sports department. I can’t think of better coaches, better people, better student-athletes. Over half of our student athletes have a value of 3.0 and the average ACT is 31. “
• Meyer on what it was easiest to let go as a coach: “The transfer portal”.
He described the revolving door of quarterbacks across the country, including the state of Ohio, as “alarming.”
“I don’t get it,” he said.
None of Ohio’s current quarterbacks were on the list a year ago. Again he alluded to the example of Cardale Jones in 2014.
“It’s hard to believe that we won a national title with a third-string quarterback and didn’t have many third-string quarterbacks,” said Meyer. “It’s not only found in the state of Ohio. It is a national matter. “
He said he agreed that graduates should be able to move, as Joe Burrow did from the state of Ohio to LSU last year.
“I think this is a good opportunity,” he said.
• Meyer was an avid recruiter but said he didn’t miss the intransigence or the earlier recruiting calendar with an extra day to sign in December.
“I loved recruiting,” he said. “(But) it was 24/7. I never really went on vacation. I never really left recruiting. The whole new rules … last year was horrible. They had official visits every weekend. We went to the Hyde Park Steakhouse (where we housed recruits) like four weekends in a row. We love Hyde Park, but after a while Shelley and I looked at each other and said, “What are we doing?” We missed our son’s baseball games. “
Nate Meyer is a freshman to the University of Cincinnati baseball team.
“I’m not a fan of the new recruiting calendar,” he said. “I was at the meetings for 3-4 years. (I asked) “Are we sure we want to do this?” Now everyone is making their decision before their senior year. High school coach, this is not good for you because players start closing it down sometimes (once they commit). “
• Meyer on speculation that he would be involved in opening a restaurant in Dublin where he lives: “A group came up to me and spoke to me. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But it was addressed. I don’t know what will happen later. “
• Meyer on his golf game: “Boy, it started well, but I have a little bit of problems now. I have a few things to work through. “
He said his game was helped by not having to take recruiting calls while playing. Meyer said he couldn’t play last year without his phone ringing.
“I would put the phone on speakerphone and actually play five or six holes with it on speakerphone,” he said. “I’m not that relevant anymore. I don’t get any calls. “
• Meyer, whose daughter Nicki had her second son Gray 5 months ago, as a grandfather: “I always heard how great it is. I keep telling Nicki this – I think mothers should have statues built for her when I see what she’s doing. She works. She has one that walks around like a nut (2½ year old son Troy) and another that clings to her. I am amazed at their energy. It’s amazing to see. When they’re your own, you’re on the go (working) so much. I’ve been there a lot, but I’ve also missed a lot. “
• Meyer on his OSU coaching career: He said the accomplishment, which he didn’t fully appreciate at the time, was the regular season winning streak of the 30-game conference at the start of his tenure.
As with many coaches, the victories are a blur for Meyer, but the losses haunt. No loss has hurt more than losing to the state of Michigan in a 2015 rainstorm at home.
How often does he think of this game?
“Every day,” he said. “That’s the one. I don’t blame others. I blame myself. I could have done some better things that day (as a coach). The 2015 state of Michigan game was a tough one. “
Of course, the unlikely national title in 2014 was a highlight.
“I remember seeing the joy on these players’ faces and the illogical,” he said.
As for his favorite win?
“I’ve been asked that many times, and I have to say the 62 points against our rival,” he said of the 62:39 surprise in Michigan last year.
• Meyer on whether his new $ 100,000 role could be considered a return to Ohio State after training his dream program for seven years: “I have a great boss, Gene Smith. My real love for the state of Ohio is real. It was never really a job. “