Monday Morning Meeting With Meyer

New Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer met with selected media members Monday for a wide-ranging interview that included such topics as Meyer's coaching staff, his offensive philosophy and his opinion of what kind of sanctions the program can expect from the NCAA.

New Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer spent about 30 minutes with a select group of media members Dec. 19, talking about a wide range of subjects. Here are excerpts of what was discussed.

Meyer: "I'm a great fan of the game of football. I love football. And when I say ‘love,' I mean I've devoted my life to it. When I say ‘love,' I'm not talking about passing or trap plays or zone read plays, I'm talking about the struggle, the work that goes on in the locker room, so sometimes I get real defensive about my program and my players. But I'm going to be much better about that. I just migrate more to the football guys – the guys who appreciate the game, appreciate the players.

"I will do better. At Bowling Green, I thought we did great. I was excited whenever we had a press conference if somebody showed up. My first press conference at Bowling Green, there were two people there. Then when we went to media day, I walked into the room and was there 20 minutes and no one talked to me. That was my first media day. No one cared.

"I'm going to do my best to get (media members) what you need, but I have a job to do and my job, No. 1, is to my players. I treat them like they're my own. Some places don't do that and I wondered if I shouldn't do that, but I can't. I went through about a week wondering if I should have that mentality of coaching coaches, but I can't do that.

"I'm putting together a staff and we're holding off (any announcements) is deference to the guys who are in bowl games. More than anything else, most of my guys (that worked with me at Florida) are head coaches now. But the formula is easy – recruit really good players with good character and then surround them with the best coaches in college football. The formula is easy. Execution of the formula is difficult.

"Recruiting, we're not hanging back. We're knee-deep in that. I can't get into a bunch of detail, of course, but the reception we've received has been very good. I attribute that to Coach (Luke) Fickell and what those guys did as well as this great institution and what it stands for."

Q. Can I get your reaction to Jean Bruce passing away? Obviously, Earle means so much to you.

UM: "There are some coaches' wives that are maybe good at fundraising or player functions. The thing with Jean Bruce was that she genuinely cared about the other coaches' wives. Sometimes I'm asked how did my wife grow up in the profession. The answer is Jean Bruce.

"My relationship with Coach – and I'm not ashamed to say it – is that other than my dad … He's a man's man. He's what football is, he's what Ohio State football is."

Q. Did your relationship with Coach Bruce play a role in you being here?

UM: "In 1986, I graduated from Cincinnati and had the chance to either become a GA at Cincinnati or come here and I came here because I was a fan. Tom Lichtenberg was the guy who brought me up to interview, and when Coach Bruce walked through the door I just couldn't believe I was in the same room as him. If you're talking about football, integrity, doing it the right way, recruit hard, play hard, Coach Bruce is the guy.

"I used to carry around a piece of paper with my players' information – height, weight, major, parents – because I knew there would be a time when he would ask about them and I'd better know it."

Q. Can you talk about the NCAA violations that were committed that ultimately brought you here?

UM: "I don't think the mistakes made here were willful or intentional. I know the people involved and I believe that very strongly. I would fight someone indicating otherwise even though I wasn't here."

Q. What have you been told about pending NCAA sanctions?

UM: "Before I got here, I did a lot of research and contacted a lot of people outside of Ohio State. I wanted to hear from people I trust who know the NCAA, and while I wouldn't use the word ‘assure,' they were talking about the overall integrity of this institution. So, I have no assurances of what is going to happen, but I have had a lot of positive feedback and we'll hear soon."

Q. You have been very successful recruiting in a short amount of time. Can you share anything about your approach and why it has been so successful so quickly?

UM: "I think it has been our staff. When you can go into a young man's home and talk about what you passionately believe in, it's not very difficult. It's what I really like to do. And I think some of our players – Braxton Miller and others – are very good when we get those recruits on our campus.

Q. Has it been difficult to stand back and let Luke do the coaching and bowl preparation while you concentrate on recruiting?

UM: "No, because I want a hurricane when we hit. A hurricane can't hit by itself. I want nine guys (on staff) to present one very clear message."

Q. Can we expect the offense you will run at Ohio State will look much like what you ran at Florida, and are you sure what you ran at Florida will fit at Ohio State and in the Big Ten?

UM: "What we have to be able to do is adapt. I don't really have a good feel for our speed right now. Carlos (Hyde) and Jordan Hall have some speed, but so much of what we can do is about the quarterback. Until we get our hands on Braxton and really get a feel for what he can do, I can't really evaluate. I've watched him in practice some, but some of those other things – release, pocket presence, things like that – I want to evaluate myself.

"People ask about a hurry-up offense or running the no-huddle. We didn't do that with Tim Tebow and the reason why was because when you go so fast you lose your leadership role and that's one of those intangibles in football. When you're going fast, your quarterback or your center can't look in the tailback's eyes and tell him he needs to get those two yards for a first down. You lose that when you go no-huddle. I'm trying to evaluate that now and see what we have.

"We have some big backs and I haven't had one of those in a while. We would also like to have a speed back. If you threaten the perimeter of the defense, that opens up everything else. Now, how you do it is dictated on your personnel."

Q. New offensive coordinator Tom Herman said he didn't want to be known only as a spread guy. Does that mean you will run some variations off the spread?

UM: "The thing we have to remember is this is Ohio State. You have to know where you are in terms of your environment and the weather, so we have to be able to turn around and hand that ball off. That will have to be part of who we are, probably more than we have ever done. Not that we have never done that. I mean, our big back at Florida was a 240-pound quarterback, so we did that a little bit differently. But we still need to be able to pound the football."

Q. How do you compare the expectations for success at Florida against those at Ohio State? What are the realistic expectations as an Ohio State fan?

UM: "The expectation level at both places is real clear. Those two schools are among the five or six where the expectation level is extremely high. Ohio State is a monster and I get that. You can get caught up in that, and at one point I did. I can assure you now that I won't. But it's a fact of life of who we are."

Q. Luke has been very clear about wanting to be a head coach again and seems to have a chance at Pittsburgh. How would him leaving shape your staff?

UM: "That would be a big hit. A couple of comments about Luke. I knew Luke more on reputation and obviously Jim (Tressel) talked very highly of Luke. I keep going back to the program's APR and GPA, one of the excellent things about our program. Our academics are good; they're great.

"But Luke has been very upfront. He has interviewed for the Pitt job, and I imagine we'll here something soon. I think of Luke as a head coach – when that will be again, I don't know. But as a family man, I can tell you he's all you'd want."

Q. Along those same lines, not much has been said about retaining defensive coordinator Jim Heacock.

UM: "So much has been talked about on defense. We're also talking about Mike Vrabel. Paul Haynes is a heckuva coach and he had a chance to become a coordinator (at Arkansas) and then Taver Johnson has been retained. Those are great people and great coaches, but I haven't made that final determination yet. Stan Drayton is also staying and we're going to move him to running backs."

Q. Can you talk about bringing Mickey Marotti on board?

UM: "He is the most important hire in an athletic department. I have been blessed to have had Coach Marotti on my staff for a number of years. Player issues, motivation, that fire that we talk about – he's everything and we're fortunate to get him to come up here to Ohio State. I don't want to say that I couldn't do this job without him, but it would be hard.

"Mickey will have final say over putting together the performance team – medical staff, trainers, equipment people, support staff. He will have meetings at least once or twice a week, and anyone who has anything to do with the players athletically will report to him. We want to give these players the very best in the country, and if it's not the best in the country, we'll want to know why it's not because these players deserve the best in the country."

Q. What are your plans for bowl week? It is a dead period for recruiting, so will you make the trip to Jacksonville?

UM: "No. I might not even watch the game." (Smiling)

Q. You have said previously you want to make this offseason one of the toughest these Ohio State players have ever known. Can you elaborate on what you mean?

UM: "These young people will get a chance to establish who they are in January. I'm really going to reserve judgment until I can see these players and get them into situations where I can evaluate. And I'm not talking about bench presses. Everybody in the country can do that. Mickey has a way of putting guys into different situations and I want to see how they respond. That situation could be conducive to converting a fourth-and-2, or a fourth quarter where you need someone to make a play. I'm trying to recreate that situation, so we can make an evaluation."

Q. Since you were out of the game for a year, do you find yourself doing a lot of catching up on the recruiting trail?

UM: "Yeah. We're already working hard on 2013 kids right now. We've found that we need at least a year relationship with someone who is really a quality player and we're fighting that battle right now."

Q. How much of your success do you think is tied to your well-known work ethic?

UM: "The basis of success is great players and great coaches. You put a model together with two parts. No. 1 is they know the coaching staff cares about them. That player has to know who you are and that you're going to help that kid out. If he questions that, you've got a problem. No. 2 is you have to make it so hard in practice that the games are easy. I want practices to be so hard, that the games are easy."

Q. On a personal note, when your family move here? We've all heard you already have 12 houses in Upper Arlington. (Laughs).

UM: "Yeah, (Kirk) Herbstreit's house. I hope to get them up here in the early spring. It's just my son and wife now because my daughters are in college. But we're looking at early spring hopefully."

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