Meyer at the White House after winning the 2008 national championship
July 10, 1964 |
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1985||St. Xavier HS (OH) (DB)|
|1986–1987||Ohio State (GA)|
|1988||Illinois State (OLB)|
|1989||Illinois State (QB/WR)|
|1990–1995||Colorado State (WR)|
|1996–2000||Notre Dame (WR)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|3 National (2006, 2008, 2014)
2 MWC (2003, 2004)
2 SEC (2006, 2008)
3 SEC Eastern Division (2006, 2008–2009)
1 Big Ten (2014)
2 Big Ten Leaders Division (2012–2013)
2 Big Ten East Division (2014–2015)
|The Sporting News National Coach of the Year (2003)
Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (2004)
George Munger Award (2004)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (2004)
Pro Football Weekly National Coach of the Year (2004)
Woody Hayes Trophy (2004)
Victor Award (2004)
The Sporting News Coach of the Decade (2009)
Sports Illustrated Coach of the Decade (2009)
MAC Coach of the Year (2001)
2× MWC Coach of the Year (2003, 2004)
Urban Frank Meyer, III (born July 10, 1964) is an American college football coach and former player, currently the head football coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meyer served as the head coach of the Bowling Green Falcons from 2001 to 2002, the Utah Utes from 2003 to 2004, and the Florida Gators from 2005 to 2010.
Meyer was born in Toledo, Ohio, grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio, and attended the University of Cincinnati, where he played football. During his time at the University of Florida, he coached the Gators to two BCS National Championship Game victories, during the 2006 and 2008 seasons. Meyer's winning percentage through the conclusion of the 2009 season (.842) was the highest among all active coaches with a minimum of five full seasons at a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program. During his temporary retirement in 2011, he worked as a college football analyst for the television sports network ESPN. In 2014, he led the Buckeyes to their first Big Ten Conference title under his tenure as well as the program's eighth national championship. Meyer is one of three coaches (the others being Pop Warner and Nick Saban) to win a major college football national championship at two different universities.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Coaching career
- 3 Spread offense
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Philanthropy
- 6 Coaching tree
- 7 Head coaching record
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
Meyer was born on July 10, 1964 in Toledo, Ohio, and grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio. He graduated from Ashtabula's Saint John High School in 1982. Meyer was also selected in the 13th round, as a shortstop, by the Atlanta Braves in the 1982 Major League Baseball Draft. Meyer spent two seasons playing minor league baseball in the Braves organization. He concurrently played defensive back at the University of Cincinnati before earning his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1986. During his undergraduate studies, Meyer was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity (Zeta Psi Chapter).
In 2004, Meyer was recognized as the college football coach of the year by both sportswriters (Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year) and television commentators (Home Depot Coach of the Year Award). He has twenty years of college coaching experience, including nine as a head coach. His overall record as a head coach through the end of the 2009 season is 96–18, and he is 49–14 in conference play. His winning percentage (.842) through the end of 2009 season ranks first nationally among active college football head coaches.
Meyer is a devout Roman Catholic and on several occasions has referred to the head coaching position at the University of Notre Dame as his "dream job," leading to speculation that he would someday wish to coach there. However, according to a July 2009 newspaper report, Meyer insisted he would never leave Florida for Notre Dame. And when the employment status of Irish coach Charlie Weis came into question in November 2009, Meyer held a press conference to dispel rumors linking him to the possible opening, stating that he would remain at Florida for "as long as they'll have me." The University of Cincinnati's Brian Kelly was eventually hired for the job.
On December 26, 2009, Meyer announced he would resign following the team's bowl game against Cincinnati, citing health concerns. However, the following day Meyer announced that he would instead take an indefinite leave of absence, and he resumed his coaching duties in time for the beginning of the Gators' spring practice on March 17, 2010.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley announced Meyer's resignation on December 8, 2010, but stated that Meyer would remain as the head coach through the Gators' appearance in the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2011.
On November 28, 2011, Meyer accepted the head coach position at Ohio State University.
Early coaching career
After playing as a defensive back and placeholder for the University of Cincinnati, Meyer spent one season interning as a defensive back coach at Saint Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1985 under the mentorship of legendary St. Xavier head coach Steve Rasso, where he met members of the Ohio State coaching staff. His first collegiate coaching position was a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at Ohio State under head coach Earle Bruce. He spent the next thirteen years as an assistant—two at Illinois State, six at Colorado State, and five at Notre Dame.
One of the talents he coached at Colorado State was WR Greg Primus (3,096 yards and 17 TD in 3 years). He put up over 1,000 yards receiving from 1990–1992 under Meyer's tutelage. At Notre Dame, he coached WR Bobby Brown who would finish his career with 1,521 yards and 12 TD receiving. In 2000 at Notre Dame he coached WR David Givens who would later be drafted by the New England Patriots.
In 1990, while still the linebacker coach at Illinois State, he called Toledo head coach Nick Saban's home and spoke to Saban's wife to inquire if a position was available. Saban, however, never returned the call. Saban later said "I was so kind of caught up and busy with what I was doing, I never really followed up on that. Obviously, that was a huge mistake on my part because the guy's a fantastic coach."
In 2001, Meyer took his first head coaching job at Bowling Green. In his first season there, he engineered one of the greatest turnarounds in the NCAA football history, going 8–3 and capping off the season with a 56–21 victory over Bowling Green's rival, the University of Toledo Rockets. He also earned Mid-American Conference coach of the year honors. The next year, Bowling Green finished with a 9–3 record. After a 17–6 overall record, Meyer left for the University of Utah.
He helped turn around a team that had gone 2–9 in 2000 in large part due to QB Josh Harris, a player tailor-made for Meyer's scheme. In part-time play in 2001, Harris passed for 1,022 yards with 9 touchdowns, and ran for 600 yards and 8 touchdowns. The next year he passed for 2,425 yards with 19 TD and ran for 737 yards with 20 TD. Meyer would later use such quarterbacks as Alex Smith and Tim Tebow in a fashion similar to the way Meyer used Harris.
After two seasons at Bowling Green, he took the job at Utah in 2003. In his first year there, Meyer was named the Mountain West Conference's Coach of the Year with a 10–2 record, the best ever for a coach's first season at Utah. He also earned honors as The Sporting News National Coach of the Year, the first Utes coach to do so. Meyer's success can be attributed to his unique offensive system, which is an offshoot of Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense, relying on short pass routes. Meyer's base offense spreads three receivers and puts the quarterback in shotgun formation. Then, he introduces motion in the backfield and turns it into an option attack, adding elements of the traditional run-oriented option offense.
In 2004, Meyer led the undefeated Utes to a Bowl Championship Series bid, something that had not been done by a team from a non-automatically qualifying BCS conference since the formation of the BCS in 1998. He remained at Utah long enough to coach the team to a Fiesta Bowl win over Pittsburgh, capping off the Utes' first perfect season (12–0) since 1930.
In 2003, Utes quarterback Alex Smith threw for 2,247 yards and 15 touchdowns and ran for 452 yards with five touchdowns. In 2004 he threw for 2,952 yards with 32 touchdowns and ran for 631 yards and 10 touchdowns. His production in Meyer's offensive scheme was a large reason why Smith was considered a first-round pick entering the 2005 NFL Draft.
In the wake of his accomplishments at Utah, both the University of Florida and the University of Notre Dame vied for his services. Meyer chose to become Florida's head coach for the 2005 season, signing a seven-year contract worth $14 million. He later signed a six-year contract extension with the Gators on June 7, 2007; the extended contract paid an average of $3.25 million per year. On August 3, 2009, Meyer received another contract extension that made him the SEC's highest paid coach during the 2009 season; his 2009 extension was worth $24 million over six years. At the time of the latest contract extension, Meyer was the third highest paid college football coach, behind only Pete Carroll and Charlie Weis.
Meyer has been criticized by some commentators because 31 of his players were arrested during his nearly six years as the Gators' coach. The seriousness of the charges varied widely, from minor offenses such as possession of alcohol by a minor to the charges of possession of a concealed weapon, "aggravated stalking, domestic violence by strangulation, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and fraudulent use of credit cards," and many of the charges were ultimately dismissed. Meyer's punishments also varied with the severity of the charges, with some players missing no game time and others being expelled from the team.
In September 2010, after Gator receiver Chris Rainey was arrested for sending a threatening text message to a former girlfriend, Meyer stated that he was "real upset about that. After a while, enough's enough. If there's something that we can improve on, we're certainly looking into that. It's like if our graduation rate stinks then we gotta improve that. If there's other issues in a program, that's our job to get it better. It's people making stupid mistakes, that's something we gotta correct."
In 2005, his first season at Florida, Meyer's Gators team finished the season 9–3 (5–3 in the Southeastern Conference). The season included an undefeated record at home and a bowl victory against Iowa in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. The Gators would have faced LSU in the SEC Championship Game, but they lost to South Carolina and former Florida coach Steve Spurrier in the SEC regular season finale.
In 2006, Meyer coached the Gators to a 13–1 (8–1 in the SEC) record, with the one loss coming to the Auburn Tigers. After clinching the SEC East, the Gators won the SEC Championship Game on December 2 over Arkansas by a score of 38–28. The Gators defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes, 41–14, in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game to win the national championship. It was the first BCS bowl berth for the Gators since the Orange Bowl that capped off the 2001 campaign, and Florida's first national championship appearance and victory since winning the 1997 Sugar Bowl.
Meyer has been known for winning big games. In addition to his 5–1 record in bowl games at Florida, Meyer compiled a 16–2 record against three of the Gators' biggest opponents—Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida State.
The Gators managed a 9–3 regular season record in 2007, including blowout wins over rivals Tennessee and FSU but once again losing to Auburn. During his tenure at the University of Florida, Coach Meyer never defeated Auburn. Quarterback Tim Tebow also became Coach Meyer's first Heisman Trophy winner. The team led the conference in scoring, but struggles on defense made it difficult for the Gators to reach a BCS bowl game. The Gators lost the Capital One Bowl to Michigan 41–35 on January 1, 2008. Meyer served as a pre-game and halftime analyst for the 2008 BCS National Championship Game.
In 2008, Meyer led the Gators to a 13–1 overall record and the BCS National Championship over Oklahoma, including wins over six ranked teams. The team's lone defeat came at the hands of Mississippi on September 27, 2008, a game in which Florida led in time of possession and passing yards, but turned the ball over three times. Eleven of the Gators' twelve wins in the 2008 regular season were by 20 points or more. On December 6, 2008, Meyer led the Gators to a 31–20 victory over then No. 1 ranked Alabama in the SEC title game. Leading in time of possession, rushing yards, and passing yards, the Gators rallied from behind after a third quarter deficit to score two touchdowns and hold Alabama scoreless in the fourth quarter. The victory would vault Florida to No. 1 in the Associated Press Poll, No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, and No. 2 in the BCS rankings, setting up a showdown against Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game on January 8, 2009, at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Gators won 24–14, securing their second national championship under Meyer.
In 2009, Meyer's Gators began the season ranked No. 1 by the largest margin in the history of the AP preseason poll. Though the team struggled on offense at times and quarterback Tim Tebow suffered a frightening concussion in a September victory over Kentucky, Florida finished the regular season 12–0 and still ranked No. 1. The winning streak ended in the SEC Championship Game, when they lost 32–13 to Alabama.
Leave of absence
In the early morning of December 6, 2009, soon after returning home following his team's loss in the 2009 SEC Championship Game, Meyer was quietly admitted into a Gainesville hospital suffering from chest pains and dehydration. He was released later in the day, and the incident was not announced to the public at the time.
On December 26, after discussions with his family, Meyer revealed his medical scare and announced that he would resign as Florida's head coach due to health and family concerns following his team's New Years Day Sugar Bowl appearance . Meyer stated: "I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family." He also said: "I'm proud to be a part of the Gainesville community and the Gator Nation and I plan to remain in Gainesville and involved with the University of Florida." Meyer admitted that he had suffered frequent chest pains, later discovered to be caused by Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and occasional severe headaches due to an arachnoid cyst for years, and that they were related to stress.
On December 27, Meyer announced that he would take an indefinite leave of absence instead of resigning. He was unsure if he would return for the 2010 season but stated that, "I do in my gut believe that will happen." Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio would serve as the interim coach in Meyer's absence.
On January 1, 2010, Meyer coached the Gators in their 51–24 Sugar Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats. In a post-game interview, Meyer again suggested that he would return to coach the Gators at some point by saying: "I plan on being the coach of the Gators."
Meyer took significant time off from his coaching duties after the bowl game in an attempt to improve his personal health. While he did stay in touch with potential new players during the busy recruiting season, Meyer did much less traveling to visit recruits than usual. Nevertheless, the Gators still signed the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in February.
On March 17, 2010, Meyer returned full-time to his position for the start of the Gators' spring practice and continued in that role into the 2010 season.
With his victory over Kentucky on September 25, 2010, Meyer achieved his 100th career win as a coach. With that win, his record was at 100–18 over the course of 10 seasons. He became the sixth fastest NCAA coach to reach that record, following Gil Dobie (108 games), George Woodruff (109 games), Bud Wilkinson (111 games), Fielding Yost (114 games), and Knute Rockne (117 games). He was also the second-fastest to reach 100 wins since Wilkinson in 1945.
Despite reaching this milestone, the season was a difficult one for the Gators, and their 7–5 regular season record was the worst in Meyer's tenure at Florida. On December 8, 2010, Meyer again announced his retirement from coaching for much the same reasons he mentioned in December 2009: his family and his health.
Meyer's last game as Florida's coach was a 37–24 win in the 2011 Outback Bowl on January 1, 2011.
After resigning as the head football coach of the Florida Gators, Meyer worked as a college football commentator and analyst for the American television sports network ESPN.
On November 22, 2011, Bill Greene of Scout.com reported that Meyer would become the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meyer denied the report publicly. Meyer then asked ESPN to be taken off assignment during the weekend of the Ohio State–Michigan game, adding more to the speculations that he might be named the next head coach of Ohio State. On November 28, WBNS Columbus, confirmed that Meyer had accepted the job as Ohio State's head football coach, and was introduced as head coach later that night. The school said Meyer would receive a six-year contract that pays $4 million annually, plus another $2.4 million total in "retention payments."  It was reported by CBSSports on April 13, 2015 that Meyer signed a contract extension with the Buckeyes through 2020.
In Meyer's first year of coaching at Ohio State, he helped the Buckeyes to an undefeated 12-0 record and a No. 3 AP Poll ranking. The team was ineligible for all other rankings, as well as postseason play, due to NCAA sanctions. He was surrounded by first-year coaches such as offensive coordinator Tom Herman, co-offensive coordinator Ed Warriner, and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers.
Meyer's next year was not as good as the last, but still Ohio State was #12 in the BCS rankings and a 12-2 record. Meyer would lose talent at the end of the year to the 2014 NFL Draft, like linebacker Ryan Shazier, cornerback Bradley Roby, and running back Carlos Hyde. Roby and Shazier went in the first round, and Hyde went in the second round.
Before the start of the season, Ohio State lost its star quarterback, Braxton Miller, when he sustained a right shoulder injury during a practice. Redshirt freshman quarterback J. T. Barrett stepped in as his replacement and led Ohio State to an 11–1 record though the first 12 games of the season. However, in the final game of the regular season, he sustained a broken ankle and was lost for the remainder of the year. Cardale Jones replaced Barrett at quarterback and guided Ohio State to 59–0 blowout win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Football Championship Game. With the conference championship and the convincing win over Wisconsin, Ohio State moved up to #4 in the College Football Playoff rankings, jumping the 2 Big 12 teams in playoff contention, Baylor and TCU, qualifying for the inaugural four-team postseason tournament. They played #1 Alabama in the semifinal Sugar Bowl. Despite being nine-point underdogs and trailing by as much as 15 points in the first half, Ohio State came back to win, 42–35, giving Meyer the head-to-head edge over rival Alabama coach, Nick Saban . The Buckeyes then faced Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Buckeyes were again underdogs as the #2-ranked Ducks were favored by seven points. Despite giving up four turnovers, Ohio State beat Oregon, 42–20, with MVP performances from running back Ezekiel Elliott and safety Tyvis Powell. The victory marked the eighth national championship in Ohio State's history and gave Meyer his third career national title, following his two with Florida.
When Meyer got his first head coaching position at Bowling Green, he took trips to visit John L. Smith and Scott Linehan at Louisville, Randy Walker and Kevin Wilson at Northwestern, Bill Snyder at Kansas State, Joe Tiller and Jim Chaney at Purdue, and Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia, all of whom ran some version of the spread offense
Meyer's teams at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Ohio State all ran the spread, chiefly utilizing a run-first variation most similar to Rich Rodriguez's formerly at West Virginia with tweaks to fit the offensive personnel (for example, Meyer's first two years at Florida skewed toward a drop-back passing attack led by Chris Leak, while Tim Tebow led an option run-based spread (as did Alex Smith at Utah). Using this offense, he has won two BCS titles, won the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship, has become the first coach to lead a non-BCS conference team (Utah) to a BCS bowl, has coached a Heisman trophy winner (Tim Tebow), and has graduated a player who became a number one overall pick in the NFL draft (Alex Smith).
While studying at Cincinnati, Meyer met Shelley Mather Meyer, a freshman nursing student, at Sigma Chi's Derby Days philanthropy event and they married in 1986. The Meyers have three children: Nicole ("Nicki"), Gisela ("Gigi") and Nathan ("Nate"). His two daughters currently play Division I volleyball: Nicki plays for Georgia Tech and Gigi plays for Florida Gulf Coast. He is a practicing Roman Catholic. Meyer resides in Dublin, Ohio.
In October 2008, coach Urban Meyer and University of Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan were named co-chairmen of an effort to raise $50 million to support the Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. This scholarship was designed for first-generation students that have unique needs and financial challenges. The Florida Opportunity Scholars Program was created by President Bernie Machen in 2006, and is intended to increase the opportunities for academically prepared first-generation students.
In December 2008, Meyer and Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham were the first people to donate money to the Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin Family Scholarship, an endowed scholarship which will benefit the Utah football program.
- Earle Bruce, Ohio State
- Dave Currey, Cincinnati
- Bob Davie, Notre Dame
- Lou Holtz, Notre Dame
- Sonny Lubick, Colorado State
- Steve Addazio, Temple & Boston College
- Gary Andersen, Utah State, Wisconsin & Oregon State University
- Chris Ash, Rutgers
- Tim Beckman, Illinois
- Gregg Brandon, Bowling Green
- Luke Fickell, Ohio State
- Tom Herman, University of Houston
- Doc Holliday, Marshall
- Brian Knorr, Ohio
- Dan McCarney, North Texas
- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
- Joker Phillips, Kentucky
- Mike Sanford, UNLV, Indiana State
- Charlie Strong, Louisville & Texas
- Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Head coaching record
|Bowling Green Falcons (Mid-American Conference) (2001–2002)|
|2001||Bowling Green||8–3||5–3||T–3rd (East)|
|2002||Bowling Green||9–3||6–2||3rd (East)|
|Utah Utes (Mountain West Conference) (2003–2004)|
|Florida Gators (Southeastern Conference) (2005–2010)|
|2005||Florida||9–3||5–3||T–2nd (Eastern)||W Outback||16||12|
|2006||Florida||13–1||7–1||1st (Eastern)||W BCS NCG†||1||1|
|2007||Florida||9–4||5–3||3rd (Eastern)||L Capital One||16||13|
|2008||Florida||13–1||7–1||1st (Eastern)||W BCS NCG†||1||1|
|2009||Florida||13–1||8–0||1st (Eastern)||W Sugar†||3||3|
|2010||Florida||8–5||4–4||2nd (Eastern)||W Outback|
|Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten Conference) (2012–present)|
|2012||Ohio State||12–0||8–0||1st (Leaders)||‡||‡||3|
|2013||Ohio State||12–2||8–0||1st (Leaders)||L Orange†||10||12|
|2014||Ohio State||14–1||8–0||1st (East)||W Sugar†, W CFP NCG†||1||1|
|2015||Ohio State||12–1||7–1||T–1st (East)||W Fiesta†||4||4|
|Ohio State:||50–4||31–1||‡ Ineligible for Big Ten title, bowl game and Coaches' Poll|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|†Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
- Bowling Green Falcons
- Florida Gators
- History of the University of Florida
- List of Ohio State University people
- List of Sigma Chi members
- List of University of Cincinnati people
- Utah Utes
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