Urban Meyer walks off the field in a Big Ten game for the final time after beating Northwestern in the conference title game. (Michael Conroy/Associated Press) By Matt Bonesteel and Matt Bonesteel Reporter for the Early Lead Email Bio Follow Chuck Culpepper Chuck Culpepper Reporter who covers national college football, college basketball, tennis, golf and international sports. Email Bio Follow December 4 at 11:47 AM Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer will retire after the Buckeyes face Washington in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, with Buckeyes offensive coordinator Ryan Day taking his place.
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Yahoo’s Pete Thamel and Cleveland.com’s Doug Lesmerises were the first to report the news Tuesday morning. Ohio State then confirmed the move and will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Eastern. According to ESPN’s Marty Smith, Meyer informed the Buckeyes’ players of his decision on Tuesday morning.
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“I’m told [the] room was quiet and collectively shocked,” Smith wrote on Twitter.
Meyer’s final season at Ohio State will go down as his most tumultuous. The school suspended him for the first three games of the season over his handling of domestic abuse allegations lodged against former Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith. He then revealed later in the season that he has been dealing with an arachnoid cyst in his brain for 20 years, causing severe headaches and necessitating brain surgery in 2014 (television images from Buckeyes games this season often showed Meyer doubled over, seemingly in pain). Both Thamel and Lesmerises say Meyer’s health was a factor in his decision to step down.
“I am fully committed to Ohio State, the football program, as long as I can,” Meyer said in October when he opened up about his health to reporters.
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“Over the last few years, I’ve felt better and, with the help of my doctors, learned to manage it and monitor it with medication,” Meyer said of his cyst-related pain to Yahoo Sports . “I’m optimistic that this time won’t be any different.”
According to the various reports, Meyer, 54, and Ohio State hoped to make the transition to a new coach as seamless as possible, much like Bob Stoops when he surprisingly announced his retirement in June 2017, handing control of the Sooners to young assistant Lincoln Riley. Day, 39, has been Meyer’s offensive coordinator for two seasons and was the Buckeyes’ interim head coach while Meyer served his suspension earlier this year. He is expected to retain many staff members hired under Meyer’s watch
Meyer’s departure concludes another thick chapter in a coaching career that spanned 15 seasons as an assistant before he jumped in December 2000 from receivers coach at Notre Dame to head coach at Bowling Green, which had gone 2-9 in 2000. He said in his introduction, “We want to force the opposition to defend the entire field using spread formations,” which he proceeded to do across the land. On Sept. 1, 2001, Meyer, then 37, began with a game at Missouri, where the Bowling Green University president addressed the team, thanked it for representing the school and said that mattered more than the scoreboard
The president departed the room, Meyer advised the team that the scoreboard in fact mattered a great lot, and the team won, 20-13
[ Perspective: Like Meyer or not, college football will miss him when he’s gone ]
From there to here, Meyer’s winning percentage (. 853) ranks third in the 149-year history of major-college football, behind Knute Rockne of Notre Dame (. 881) and Frank Leahy of Notre Dame (. 864), and just ahead of Barry Switzer (. 837) and Tom Osborne (. 836).
Urban Meyer will retire from coaching after Ohio State's appearance in the Rose Bowl. His .853 career win percentage ranks 3rd on the all-time list among those to have coached at least 10 seasons. He's 82-9 at Ohio State. pic.twitter.com/wUQ4TRSSjy
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 4, 2018 He went 17-6 over two seasons at Bowling Green, then 22-2 in two seasons at Utah to become, in December 2004, a target of both Notre Dame and Florida. Florida won that, and Meyer’s six seasons there packed with three seasons of 13-1, two national championships and ample controversy. His seven seasons at Ohio State stand at 82-9 with one national championship, four seasons of one loss or fewer and a bit more controversy.
His Florida tenure roiled with the arrests of at least 31 players, according to the Boston Globe’s investigative series on the late New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who joined the Florida roster at age 17 in January, and caught 111 passes and 12 touchdowns for the Gators from 2007 till ’09.
That tenure paused in December 2009, when Meyer announced a decision to step down citing health issues born of untold stress at age 45. He recanted that decision by Jan. 1, 2010, to coach another season, which at 8-5 became the worst of his 17 as a head coach.
In December 2010, he stepped down again, taking a year away before becoming the coach at the flagship program of his native state on Nov. 28, 2011. At Ohio State, he has presided over a tireless juggernaut that has contended for the College Football Playoff for all five of the format’s seasons , finishing at No. 4, No. 7, No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6, with the team that finished No. 7 (2015) a 12-1 possibly the biggest Godzilla of the bunch.
He approached the Ohio State job seeking to contain the monomaniac madness he saw in himself during the Florida years, and the tenure did go along with a scant amount of reported lawlessness. Then in summer 2018, he became a subject of coast-to-coast censure with reporter Brett McMurphy’s revelations of Meyer’s long-term handling of domestic-violence charges against receivers coach Zach Smith, who worked for Meyer at both Florida and Ohio State
Ohio State suspended Meyer for the first three games of this season for issues that turned up in its investigation. Upon his return, the health issues welled again, with Meyer often looking pained on the sideline. A topic publicized during his Florida years, an arachnoid cyst in Meyer’s brain, resurfaced
He coached this season vowing to coach on as long as he could, and he and the Buckeyes scored a landmark victory on Nov. 24, when they romped past then-No. 4 Michigan, 62-39, leaving Meyer’s record against Michigan at 7-0, where it will remain — and remain celebrated.
“To be honest, the biggest thing about Urban,” Dave Revill, a captain of a Meyer-coached team at Utah, once said, “is that he instilled more confidence in players than I’ve ever seen before. You could be a very average football player and he could make you feel like you were an all-star.”
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