By now you’ve heard the breaking news this morning that Urban Meyer is retiring as the head coach of Ohio State University following coaching the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day against Washington. Offensive Coordinator Ryan Day will take over as full time head coach following Meyer’s retirement. The 39-year-old coordinator assumed head coaching responsibilities on an interim basis when OSU went 3-0 during Meyer’s suspension from the Zach Smith fallout earlier this season.
I can’t say I’m exactly shocked at this news. If you watched any of Ohio State football this year you could see visibly that Urban was struggling. Constantly hunched over and the health concerns are the reason behind this retirement. Like in 2010 when he stepped away from Florida after winning a national title, Urban’s health is a serious concern and he’s not taking it lightly retiring at 54-years-old. The fallout from the Zach Smith situation and the suspension he felt was unjust from the University also had to weigh heavily in this decision as well, no doubt. Urban was never back on the same page with the University leadership and we all kind of got the sense that this year would be his last at OSU.
The excellent senior class he had is now departing as is likely his Quarterback Dwayne Haskins after a phenomenal season has ticketed him for the first round of the NFL Draft, this is the time for Urban to step down and hand the keys to his young offensive coordinator in Ryan Day. Much like when Bob Stoops stepped down at Oklahoma and handed off to Lincoln Riley, this just feels like a good fit. No wide coaching search, Ohio State has their next guy, they got to see a little of what he can do with a program earlier this season without any major drop-off and are ready to make the transition.
If this is really it for Urban Meyer, one of the all-time great football coaches has just left the sport. For the last 10 to 15 years, Urban has been at the top of the world rankings for football coaches right there with the great Nick Saban. Since joining OSU, Meyer went 82-9 as the head coach and his .904 winning percentage is second to only Saban at Alabama during that time and includes a national title in 2014 where he beat Saban in the semi-final before taking down Oregon in the national championship game.
Urban also has a 7-0 record against arch-rival Michigan, something that has a great ring to it and as a Michigan fan myself, you can’t take anything away from Meyer, he’s owned the Big Ten and the Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh is certainly jumping for joy this morning at this news. The Buckeyes have been among the elites in college football under Urban Meyer and the program may come out of this in good shape with Ryan Day, but it won’t be as dominant as they were under Meyer, that’s just not sustainable without the same great coach atop the program.
Is this the end for Urban Meyer as a football coach? I have a hard time believing this is really it for him. From Bowling Green to Utah to Florida and now to Ohio State, Urban Meyer has had nothing but success everywhere he has gone. He has taken over programs and built them into perennial contenders and winners. He’s had health concerns sure, so he may take time off like he did after resigning from Florida, but I have a hard time believing his actual retirement speech will come this afternoon. Urban has football and winning in his blood and at just 54-years-old, he’s relatively young in the football coaching ranks. The relationship with Ohio State had come to an end, he had the next guy in Day who he felt comfortable handing the program off to and it was time to depart. Unlike when he left Florida after two national titles and no successor, this one feels right and he can be at peace with the decision as can Buckeye fans.
At some point in the not so distant future an opening is going to come up that may drum up the appetite for Urban Meyer to get back on the sidelines. Be it in college or even the NFL. Urban Meyer has had outstanding success in college football, but unlike Nick Saban, has never given the National Football League a shot. Maybe now is that time. I mean after all look at the job openings that are available just right now. Right down the road from Columbus you have the Browns with a stud in Baker Mayfield. You can’t tell me that wouldn’t peak your interest if you were Urban Meyer. Then there’s the Packers with Aaron Rodgers. For these franchises there’s no sure-thing out there for potential head coaching candidates, that is unless Urban Meyer is on the market. Say what you want about college coaches success in the NFL, but the way this game is trending and the way Urban can own a room and lead, Meyer can make it in the NFL and have success if he has the Quarterback. He can handle the rest from there. Just keep that in the back of your mind as the season moves forward and the off-season begins.
Urban Meyer is retiring from Ohio State and not many are shocked with this decision. Ryan Day is the right guy to lead the Buckeyes forward into the future and we will all just have to wait and see if this is truly it for one of the all-time great coaches or if there’s another chapter yet to be written in his story.