I met Urban Meyer once, about a month after we won our first title with him at the helm. Through a series of very fortunate events, I actually got to have an uninterrupted conversation with the guy for about 20 minutes. In that time, it became obvious that February 2007 Urban Meyer only cared about two things: winning football games, and spending time with his family. And it was clear that, notwithstanding all the success on the first front, he was pretty upset about everything he was missing out on at home.
Which is why, 2 (and then again 3) years later, when he claimed he was leaving, at least in part, on account of his family, I believed it. I really think that was a big deal to him, and I think he has, by and large, taken great advantage of the time off to see his kids. But he loves coaching football, so seeing his inevitable return come a little quicker than I expected is understandable.
Given all that, I’m having trouble being mad at him. Sure, he said some ridiculous things about how he couldn’t step away and then end up coaching somewhere else in a year or two; how wrong that’d be. I’m sure he felt that way at the time, and I appreciated the sentiment. But he obviously can’t come back to UF now, and tOSU is his alleged dream job, so I don’t begrudge him moving on. If he raids our coaching staff, as has been rumored, that’s another story. But until we see that confirmed, best of luck buddy.
My feelings about the way UF handled the Urban Meyer situation over the past two years are a little different. I understand that he had a ton of leverage when we negotiated with him, but our AD, Jeremy Foley, basically let Urbz walk all over him. As I understand it, he had a $500,000.00 buy out, on a deal that paid him millions of dollars over a very long period of time. Even worse, a month after his second, longer-term retirement, we still paid him a $1MM bonus that he was to earn if he was still the coach as of January 1, 2011. So we essentially gave him a cool million to take a year off while he waited on what is reportedly a 7 year, $40MM contract. Money aside, the guy also got to keep an office on campus, and was a continued presence in Gainesville. It made for a challenging transition, and probably didn’t make Will Muschamp’s job any easier (though I’m not going to begin making excuses for this season).
As for how this hire plays out for tOSU, it’s tough to predict. Call us bitter Gator fans, but from discussions with fellow UF grads over the past week, the consensus seems to be that the Buckeyes might not be getting their money’s worth. The Urban Meyer that won national championships had great assistant coaches he could rely on. Even then, he was a workaholic. If he’s truly found a work-life balance, I think we’ll see a more even win-loss balance as well. I’ve heard more in depth analysis about why he’ll have trouble succeeding, but I’m not an Xs and Os guy, and I can’t begin to give a good explanation. Surely they will improve on this year’s record, but questions of how many years before he can win a national championship are a little premature. In terms of recruiting, I’d assume tOSU starts getting more national recruits than they have in the past, but I’m praying that kids from the state of Florida still think of Ohio in the same way I do: Cold, gray, ugly, and irrelevant for decades.