Ron Meyer was the featured guest speaker at the New Horizons Credit Union 1st & 10 Club meeting held on Monday evening at the Heron Lakes Country Club in Mobile, Ala. He began his head coaching career in 1973 at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV) before a six-year stint at SMU (1976-81). He moved onto the NFL as the head coach of the New England Patriots (1982-84). The former Purdue University quarterback and defensive back (1961-62) returned to the Hoosier state to lead the Indianapolis Colts (1986-91).
In 1974, he was named the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year. He was the Southwest Conference Coach of the Year in 1981. Twice he was honored as the AFC Coach of the Year (1982 & 1986) and was the UPI NFL Coach of the Year (1987). Meyer had half a dozen Alabama players on his NFL rosters. Guards Bob Cryder and John Hannah were teammates on the New England Patriots. Defensive backs Chris Goode and Freddie Robinson along with defensive lineman Jon Hand and linebacker Barry Krauss were on the Indianapolis Colts.
’BAMA Magazine/BamaMag.com spoke to the 73-year old Miami native about the former Tide players and his visit to the tower in Tuscaloosa to scout a future College and Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman. College coaches are annually paid millions of dollars. The gigantic seven-figure payoff has reached the assistant coaching levels. Meyer said he was paid a mere $80,000 per year to coach the SMU Mustangs in 1981.
His thoughts on the College Football Playoff System:
“I’m against the whole playoff system but that is from a coach’s standpoint. Why? Because, you only have one winner. The Super Bowl has given us that, the great NFL of which I was a part of. Unfortunately, the collegiate side is adopting that and the general public, John Q. Public who never played or coached football; they are demanding a winner take all. They kind of demanded this on the collegiate scene. Number one, the college football season is too long. There ought to be 10 games. They ought to go back to the bowl system, end it on December 1. Then have a mythical national championship and you’ll have a lot of football teams that are happy because we won the Sugar Bowl, we won the Cotton Bowl, we won the Rose Bowl. They can hang their hat on it. Now, every team accept one is going to be hailed a loser, no matter how good they are because it’s a winner take all. I don’t think that is fair to a college athlete that it might be the last go around. You were a 13-1 team but you lost the national playoff but what about the 13 other games we won. This all gets back to the North Carolina thing (recent academic scandal). This all mighty dollar stance is forcing the playoff. It may be alright for basketball but you don’t get concussions in basketball. You don’t get busted knees in basketball to the biggest extent. I’m just opposed to it (college football playoff).”
Machoism, unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and disrespect for the game are pervasive in football. How would he manage the lack of discipline displayed by players?
“We had a discipline type of program at both the colleges I coached – UNLV and SMU. At SMU, I called them the Mustang reminders. You would run 250 yards and every five yards you would have to hit the ground. That was one. If you missed a class, you would do three of them that afternoon. They could hardly walk afterwards. I would try certain things like that because you don’t want to run a good football player off. They are not there to be kicked off the team. We are seeing that at Texas now but somehow you’ve got to re-channel them. You’ve got to train them. No different than the military in my opinion. You will lose some probably but you’ll save a bunch too.”