Urban Meyer doesn’t want to be Exhibit A of what can happen when a coach gets sidetracked by the pursuit of winning and pays a steep price in his personal life.
At the end of his tenure at Florida, Meyer’s priorities became jumbled. He was so consumed with winning that he neglected his health and his family and was forced to step away from the game.
He was the subject again this week of a national story in ESPN The Magazine, which devoted nine pages to his journey from being emotionally bankrupt to returning to coaching at Ohio State. And while he was commendably transparent in the article, he wants the focus to start being less about him and more about the Buckeyes.
“If it can help someone out there — that’s the only reason I did it,” he said Sunday during media day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “I don’t need that story out there much longer. I want my kids to have their own life. But it’s much deeper than that. I’ve gotten 100’s of emails already from people that have dealt with some stuff. If it can help someone, do it. If not, then let’s move on. Let’s talk about Braxton Miller and the spread offense.”
Asked if he’s been able to find balance in the midst of preseason camp, he said: “The issues aren’t how you coach. They’re when you go home at night and the offseason and those types of things. Am I a different person? Yeah, I’ve grown. But it’s training camp, Day 8, and we’ve got to get a team on the field in 20 days or 19 days. And we’d better be really good.”
The Buckeyes had an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday, and Meyer was pleased with the quarterback player of Miller and back-up Kenny Guiton and also the emergence of running back Carlos Hyde.
The wide receiver group is still a weakness, though, and he’s moved tight end Jake Stoneburner there to provide some punch.
“They’re much improved but still not Ohio State caliber yet,” he said.
Select players also were made available to the media. Defensive end Nathan Williams, who is recovering from a knee injury, said he’s almost fully recovered and expects to be ready for the Miami game on Sept. 1.
Running back Jordan Hall, who had foot surgery, is still in a protective boot and hopes to be back at full strength for the California game Sept. 15.
While Meyer would like his past failings to be a cautionary tale for driven coaches, he also hopes the mistakes of LSU’s Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu can do the same for his players. A Heisman finalist last season, Mathieu was kicked off the team last week for undisclosed reasons.
Meyer said he’s addressed off-field issues “probably 1,000 times since January. It’s not just him, it’s a whole slew of players who aren’t playing college football. A minimum of several times a day, something is brought up about that – because it’s such a fragile time for 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds.”