Dallas–It was the morning after Ohio State’s 42-20 win over Oregon for the first national championship of the College Football Playoff. And as the media is wont to do in the age of Twitter, they tried to get Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to quickly turn the page to next year’s team, who’s turning pro, and what the future could hold for the Buckeyes’ program. Ohio State’s eighth national championship was less than 10 hours old.
In a previous life Meyer would have been way ahead of the media on this one. He would have skipped the team celebration back at the Anatole Hotel and the few hours of sleep he could get afterwards. He would have arrived at his final media obligation Tuesday morning with a schedule in hand for for Thursday, when his coaches can go back on the road recruiting.
But not now. In a packed interview room at the Renaissance Hotel, he looked to his left to see quarterback Cardale Jones, whose life has been transformed in less than two months, and safety Tyvis Powell. This was a special moment. He knew it and he wanted them to know it.
“This is something I learned on my journey,” said Meyer, who turned 50 on July 10. “I’m going to enjoy this thing and I want them to enjoy it, too. This is very special.”
Meyer’s journey to this moment, which included two national championships at Florida (2006, 2008), almost never happened. He left the profession in 2011 and sat out a year from sheer exhaustion. But Meyer, a proud son of Ashtabula, OH, returned in 2012 as the head coach at Ohio State. Today, after only three seasons in Columbus, Meyer is 38-3 with a Big Ten championship and a national championship. His team won three games against Wisconsin (Big Ten championship game), No. 1 Alabama (national semifinals) and No. 2 Oregon with his No. 3 quarterback. It was nothing short of a tour de force of coaching where Meyer willed his team to win.
And with the win Meyer became only the second coach in FBS history to win national titles at two different schools. Nick Saban (LSU, Alabama) is the other. He becomes only eighth coach in FBS history to win three or more national championships. And after last night’s game it can be argued that Urban Meyer deserves to be in the conversation with Saban as college football’s best coach.
“I’m humbled…and appreciate the people who did it and that’s our players,” Meyer said after the game when the comparisons were made to Saban.
With the quality of talent Meyer has returning, his Buckeyes could be favored to repeat as national champs in 2015. They will certainly be in everybody’s preseason top five, particularly if all three quarterbacks–Jones, Braxton Miller, and J.T. Barrett–return. Jones, a third-year sophomore who has had the best three-game start a quarterback has ever had, might be wise to turn pro, as crazy as that sounds. The deadline for that decision is Thursday.
“His stock may be never higher than it is right now,” said Meyer. “But we’re going to have that talk.”
Meyer would entertain the notion of winning a second straight national championship, but only to a point. When he won it at Florida in 2008 and had quarterback Tim Tebow returning in 2009, Meyer was obsessed with repeating. It eventually took a toll on his health. He has better learned how to handle both success and failure.
“I think we’ll be very good,” said Meyer, who has 20-game winning streak at three different schools (Utah, Florida, Ohio State). “The main thing you have to worry about is complacency setting in–and we’ll address that. A college football team is a complicated machine. We have a lot of talented guys on our team. We will have that conversation but not today. Right now we’re going to celebrate this one.”
And off he went to do exactly that.