For those of you who are both Bengals and Buckeyes fans, here are my thoughts on Urban Meyer, the new coach at Ohio State.
1) It’s hard to imagine any candidate having a better background than Meyer for the Buckeye coaching job. He was born and raised in Ohio and is rumored to have a picture of Woody Hayes in his basement. He has connections all over the state, from his childhood in Ashtabula, playing days at the University of Cincinnati, and coaching stops at Ohio State and Bowling Green. He should be able to recruit every inch of his home state. He’s also won everywhere he’s been. And he has experience at a big-time program, including two national titles. Furthermore, he’s well-schooled in the modern offenses, which should help him to avoid the drab and dull labels of previous Buckeye offenses. From a distance, Meyer is the perfect fit. Let’s hope perception meets reality.
2) I’m happy to see Luke Fickell is set to return as a high-ranking assistant for Meyer. Fickell handled a dreadful situation admirably for the Buckeyes. He was a first-year coach, following a legend, in a rebuilding season without an established quarterback, and with NCAA sanctions looming over the entire program. Certainly the results weren’t what Fickell or anyone else hoped for, but his team was extremely competitive and his professionalism should be applauded. Fickell could gain a little more knowledge and experience under Meyer and flourish in a second go-round as a head coach.
3) Meyer’s experience in Florida could be a huge asset for the Buckeyes. The modern college game requires speed all over the field and Florida’s talent-rich schools are full of it. If Meyer can lock up the best players in-state and fare well with the speedy, skill-position types in Florida, the Buckeyes should have a formula for sustained success. Again, with Meyer’s experience and connections, it’s hard to imagine anyone who might have a better resume for Buckeye football.
4) I thought Braxton Miller was good enough to win a national championship at some point in his college career and that belief is strengthened further with the hiring of Meyer. You don’t have to be a great passer to be a champion college quarterback (think Tebow, Vince Young, Terrelle Pryor, etc.) if you can run the ball well. And Miller can certainly do that. Braxton is shiftier than Pryor and his accuracy has to improve with both time and Meyer’s tutelage. If there’s anything to be happy about following a six-loss season, it’s that the future in Columbus is exceptionally bright.
5) Urban Meyer’s offense will get a lot of the attention in the months ahead, but it is the defense that could have Ohio State ready to compete on the big stage next season. Ohio State’s young secondary has improved throughout the season and the corners and safeties possess enough talent to compete with any team in the country. The linebackers and defensive line will have a few returning playmakers as well. Overall, the defensive unit isn’t losing many players to graduation and should be plenty hungry with a whole year to think about how Michigan ran roughshod over them.
It might be hard to believe as Ohio State waits for a bid from a miserable bowl game, but it’s a great time to be a Buckeye.
Urban Meyer is the perfect person to turn things around. And I think he might do it a lot quicker than people expect.