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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Urban Meyer dodges question on Ohio State interest

By Marla Published: August 26, 2011

Speculation has former Florida coach and current ESPN analyst Urban Meyer as the top candidate to coach OhioState next year if Luke Fickell is not retained.

But Meyer, who is taking a break after health issues to spend time with
his family, wouldn't dilvulge his level of interest in the job during an ESPN
conference call Thursday.

Asked how he felt about getting back to coaching at some point and if he
would ever be interested in Ohio State, Meyer said, according to a transcript
provided by the network, "I'm in a little bit of an evaluation phase in my
life. I'm trying not to look too far in advance.

There's a big part of me that hopes I love what I'm doing and really enjoy witnessing some of the things of my kids growing up. But I do miss coaching very badly. So I don't know. I'm not going to evaluate until it's time to evaluate."

Here are some other OSU-related issues Meyer and Spielman discussed, as provided by ESPN:

Q. - For Urban, I know you've worked
with [Michigan assistant coach] Greg Madison; obviously you know what you can do. Can he
turn this defense around quickly, and what's reasonable to expect from Michigan's defense, and also for Chris, as a Buckeye, what do you think of Brady Hoke constantly referring to Ohio, having the countdown clock to Ohio and the emphasis he's brought back to that rivalry?

URBAN MEYER: I went there in the spring practice and watched a practice, watched real close, spent time with Greg and Brady, and I was expecting something much worse than what I
saw. I saw a bunch of good players out there running around and being well
coached. I don't think they're near as far off as what you saw at the end of the
season last year. I think it's going to be much improved if they can stay
healthy, and all coaches are a product of what players they have.

So I think Greg is going to do a great job. He did for me at Florida, they did a whole year together at Notre Dame. But if they don't have the players ?? like I said, I was pleasantly surprised what I saw, the athleticism of the guys running around there in the spring, so I think it'll be much improved.

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Well Brady is from Ohio so he understands and comprehends what the rivalry is. And I think the fact that it's been so one?sided, I love the move, kind of going out of Tressel's playbook when Tressel first got the job. I love the move of at least putting the emphasis on it publicly and getting the players reengaged and maybe the community and the
fan base reengaged. He's coached there, so he understands how important it is not only to coaches and the players but to the fans, and frankly in my opinion to college football. I'm glad he's embracing is the way he is.

Q. - Chris, is it insulting to you that he calls Ohio State "Ohio"? He refuses to say Ohio State.

CHRIS SPIELMAN: I love it, I think it's great, because I always say Michigan football would be nowhere without players from Ohio, and the best guy to coach Michigan was from Ohio, Bo Schembechler, so they have to come to Ohio to get what they need to fulfill their football program. So I feel like we're a major contributor to that. So no, of course I'm joking, but I love that. That's something that I've always embraced, and I think being from the state, most
people do embrace it is the answer. It goes back and forth. I know Brady does, and I love it.

Q. - From a fan's perspective from Ohio State this year with the changes, do you think fans should be sort of intrigued to see what this year will be like or do you think they should be more concerned about what this year will be like with Ohio State, with a new quarterback, with a new coach?

URBAN MEYER: Well, Chris and I are doingthe Ohio State game next week, and as a result the last couple weeks, I know I have been and Chris has, as well, been really watching them. They were really good last year. I didn't realize how ?? the reason they're so fresh in my mind
this morning, I was watching them, and however, there is a lot of ?? I didn't realize because I was busy the last several years how good Terrelle Pryor was for that offense.

I know there's a lot of intriguing story lines with Ohio State, none more important than the fact that that quarterback is no longer taking a snap there, and whoever they pick, Bauserman or Braxton Miller, the impact, that's going to be significant, because I think one is going to
realize the impact that Terrelle Pryor had on that offense. I heard about it, but watching it on film and seeing what a weapon he was, just scrambling around and making plays and forcing the defense to be very vanilla, I think that's going to be a big part of Ohio State's success if they can manage that offense without him.

CHRIS SPIELMAN: I've got a little advantage over Urban living here, so I understand, and I think everybody is intrigued, not only with the quarterback situation but replacing all those defensive starters and how are they going to do without your top receiver, your NFL?caliber left tackle, your top returning rusher. I'm anxious to see it from an analytical point of view, and then after I'm done with the broadcast the fan point of view, if these Ohio State kids rise up like they always have in the past. One man's loss is another man's opportunity.

I think it's going to be a different offense, and Doug, you might have numbers, but Terrelle Pryor, at least to my eye, probably accounted for at least 85 percent of the offense that was gained last year, and the intriguing thing for me and I think for Urban and all people is it's Luke's shot, man, this is it. This is a 38 year old guy, home grown, what, 50 starts
as a player, it's like the dream job and he's coaching Ohio State, and what's
he going to do with it. That's the thing that interests me.

Q. - Coach Meyer, what don't the folks in the Big Ten know about playing in a league with a conference title game that they're about to find out? You've obviously been there. What are the things that they don't understand that they're going to figure out as they go forward?

URBAN MEYER: Chris and I met with the Big Ten, and that question came up, and the one thing the SEC does is the conference championship game, without taking anything away from the BCS National Championship game, that is as big, and in some people's minds even bigger, the whole atmosphere, the arrangement, the way they treat you, obviously the fans,
that's an incredible environment, and I think the Big Ten with their fan support
will have a similar ?? I'm sure they will. The Big Ten office will do a great job making it.

To me that game has got to be bigger than any game of the year, and once you do all respect to the Bowls and everything else, but make that thing huge so the players look forward to it because it is a grind. You reach that point in the season where you're dealing with injuries,
you're dealing with fatigue, and you know a Big Ten team goes through that and
if they can somehow win that game they're probably going to play in the National
Championship game.

I think it's great for college football. I think it's one of the great experiences. It's also one of the most fatiguing, nerve wracking experiences that you can go through.

Q. - Chris, what concerns do you have about this as it kind of breaks tradition and moves
forward your old league?

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Zero concerns. I think it's about time. With the addition of Nebraska, I think it's great. It's long overdue. It's a benefit. I know it's a grind for players and all that, but I'll tell you if you look an informal poll that the players love the idea. You win
your division, you get to play for a championship, and there's a lot more on
the line. I think it's awesome, like Urban said. The Big Ten will make a big deal
of that, and I believe that our fan base will embrace the game. So we'll see. I've
got Wisconsin winning, by the way.

Q. - Who's the other side of that thing?

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Boy, I'd probably have to go with Nebraska or Iowa.

Q. - Chris, you've known [Ohio State’s] Luke [Fickell] for a while now. I was wondering your
impressions of the job that he's sort of walked into and the tasks ahead of him.

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Luke, when I had a chance to talk with him, he's embracing this challenge, and it's something that came his way, and he knows that this is his shot. He's also ?? I think ??
now, he didn't say this, but I think he's also auditioning just in case it doesn't work out at Ohio State; say things don't go the way everybody wants them to go that's a fan of Ohio State or a fan of Luke Fickell, then there's a chance there could be a coaching change. But the way he's handled himself thus far has been exemplary.

I think he's been a little bit more open at practices, there's been a little bit more access by the media, so he knows what he's doing. The bottom line, though, for Luke, and he knows this, you've got to win, and you've got to win now. No matter what your circumstances are, no
matter how you got the job, you have one job, and you're judged on one thing here in
Columbus. We can talk about all the other stuff, but ultimately you're judged
on wins and losses, and he knows what's at stake. I think he's up to it, but time
will answer that question.

Q. - Chris, is there a magic number he has to hit to keep the job? Is it wins?

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Well, I don't think? I don't know they're anxious to change. They've gone through so much this year. I would say 10. If they get 10, this is just purely speculation on my part, if they get 10, I think he's got a really, really good chance; if he's nine, he's
got a decent chance; if he's eight and four, he's got a slim chance. That's the
best way I can break that down, and that's just pure speculation. That's just
how I view it.

Q. - Chris, there's been some jarring criticism of Ohio State. I read something that
was even particularly scathing this morning, kind of portrayed the former head
coach as a guy who only cared about winning and not in developing people or doing anything outside of the program. I'm just wondering if ?? this is coming
from an alum who also works in the local media here in Columbus. I wonder if
you ever bristle when you read something like that, or is this part of the deal;
sanctions are coming and this comes with it?

CHRIS SPIELMAN: Well, I think we all make mistakes, and I think Jim Tressel's record outside of football and what he's done and what his players say about him says a lot. I think he made that mistake, and I think he regrets it, wish he wouldn't do it, and there were
consequences for a big mistake. It's that simple in my eyes.

Nobody who admires a man wants to see him take that kind of hit. But I think that's what had to happen. That was evident. But that doesn't change what he's done for this community, his charitable work and what his players say about him. We all make mistakes, and when you're in a higher position then people watch you and you're constantly being criticized, and you have a contract, you've got to live up to it, all that stuff. If you don't do it, there's consequences, pure and simple to me. But I don't think he was all about winning. I think he was all about what he said he was about.




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