|Urban Meyer has at least one thing in common with Brady Hoke . . .
Well, the persistent rumors that had been buzzing for weeks finally came to fruition on Monday morning. It was reported that Urban Meyer – former head coach at Bowling Green State University, Utah, and Florida – has accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State. The fate of interim coach Luke Fickell, who went 6-6 in place of Jim Tressel, seems unclear right now.
Meyer went 17-6 in two seasons at BGSU, 22-2 in two seasons at Utah, and 65-15 in six seasons at Florida; that gives him a combined 104-23 record (nearly 82% winning percentage). He also produced first round draft pick Alex Smith (San Francisco 49ers), Heisman winner Tim Tebow, and two national championships in Gainesville (2006, 2008).
Many Michigan fans seem to be bemoaning Meyer’s hiring in Columbus, as if this will instantly relegate Michigan to also-ran status.
News flash: Ohio State will be good. How that changes the rivalry is beyond me. The Buckeyes were good under Tressel, John Cooper, Earle Bruce, and Woody Hayes, too. Ohio State is a good program and almost always has been. But Brady Hoke, Al Borges, and Greg Mattison have proven to be pretty good coaches, too. And speaking of Mattison, he used to be Meyer’s defensive coordinator at Florida. So was Charlie Strong, who’s now the head coach at Louisville. Dan Mullen was his offensive coordinator, and he’s the head coach at Mississippi State. Meyer can’t do it all by himself, and he’ll need to hire good coordinators to get the job done.
One of those coordinators might be Fickell. I’m not a fan of Luke Fickell, but I think he did a decent job with the hand that was dealt to him this season. He had a freshman quarterback, star players who were suspended for large chunks of the season, and obvious distractions. There were slip-ups here or there, but when your star quarterback, star running back, and star wide receiver miss the whole season, half the season, and most of the season, respectively, I think expectations should be lowered. Fickell was a defensive coach for the Buckeyes prior to being elevated to head coach and he’s also an Ohio State alum. I think it would be the right thing to do for Meyer to keep Fickell on as defensive coordinator.
Meyer’s hiring in Columbus will undoubtedly affect the recruiting landscape in the midwest, but not to an alarming degree. The fact is that the state of Ohio produces tons of talent and Meyer will likely try to mine his old recruiting grounds in the south, too. Michigan will still be able to poach some players from Ohio who could succeed in any system. The interesting dynamic here is that now Ohio State and Michigan have flipped roles; unlike Rich Rodriguez in Ann Arbor and Jim Tressel in Columbus, now Brady Hoke will be recruiting pro-style players and Urban Meyer will be searching for spread-type players on offense. Class of 2012 running back Bri’onte Dunn has already stated that he doesn’t want to play in the spread offense, and Meyer did a pretty poor job of developing running backs and wide receivers, with the exception of Percy Harvin. That opens the door for bigger backs, pro-style receivers, and pro-style quarterbacks from the state of Ohio to come to Michigan. Conversely, dual-threat quarterbacks and slot receiver types will be more drawn to Ohio State.
It will be interesting to see how the story plays out in Columbus, where the dolts who run the university and the athletic department still seem clueless about how tarnished their program might be when the NCAA decides how to punish them. There could be a loss of scholarships and probation, which might very well affect how quickly Meyer finds success. But considering Meyer’s achievements, he will most likely produce anywhere from a good to great program and they will be challenging for Big Ten titles for several years to come. And that’s the way it should be.