A couple of weeks ago, after Ohio State was embarrassed at Iowa, there were rumblings that the Urban Meyer experience had run its course in Columbus, especially after a series of big-game losses and escape acts over the last calendar year.
Then Meyer handed Mark Dantonio the worst loss of his career, as the Buckeyed bludgeoned Michigan State 48-3 last Saturday.
Still, is it possible that Meyer could soon leave Ohio State?
“Unless he has the urge to try it out in the NFL, I don’t think so,” 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “The only coach that I know that really had great success to go from college to the NFL is Pete Carroll.”
Carroll won a national championship at USC and a Super Bowl with the Seahawks. Meyer has the national championship part down – he’s won three of them – but does he have the itch to win a Super Bowl?
George doesn’t think so.
“It’s got to be in your DNA,” he said. “It’s got to be something that you enjoy. It’s two totally different ballgames. I don’t know if Urban’s style of coaching would resonate on the professional ranks. From the coaches on down, he holds everybody accountable – not just the players, but the coaches. Everybody is on pins and needles, and I don’t know if that would be accepted in the professional ranks.”
Let’s not forget that Meyer is, you know, 68-8 at Ohio State. That’s a .896 winning percentage – even better than Jim Tressel’s .828 (106-22) in Columbus.
“I think he’s comfortable right now,” George said of Meyer. “He’s making a lot of money at Ohio State. He can get a free steak anywhere he wants to go. I don’t see him leaving to go coach the Cleveland Browns for a three-year hustle. I just don’t see that.”
Ohio State, by the way, remains in the playoff mix. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 9 this week and control their own destiny in the Big Ten. In fact, if the Bucks win out and a few chips drop a certain way, Ohio State could backdoor into the final four.
“The season is interesting now,” George said. “Notre Dame got blown out by Miami, and there’s a lot of football that has to be played. Miami plays Clemson. Oklahoma still has a couple of games they still have to win out in. We’re still on the outside looking in in terms of the four-team playoff, but anything could happen. We still have a chance to win out, beat Michigan and possibly play Wisconsin. Hopefully Wisconsin stays undefeated. It’s going to take a lot of help for Ohio State to get in there.”
Alabama, Oklahoma, and Miami would likely have to win out for Ohio State to have a chance. But if the Buckeyes don’t win out – or if they do but are left out of the playoff – George is okay with that.
“Sometimes you don’t produce championship-winning teams,” he said. “Sometimes you are who you are. You might be a two-loss game. You might be a three-loss team. I think the signs were there against Penn State. That game honestly, shouldn’t have been close from Penn State’s perspective. They didn’t have the killer instinct.”
Ohio State outscored Penn State 19-3 in the fourth quarter for a thrilling, come-from-behind 39-38 win.
Then the Buckeyes lost 55-24 at Iowa seven days later. It was the worst loss of Meyer’s career.
“You go into Kinnick Stadium, you don’t just walk in there (and win),” George said. “You got to go and earn that. They didn’t have enough energy after coming back on Penn State to withstand what they got out of Iowa. It’ll all shake itself out. All Ohio State can do is control their next game. The cliches of the locker room: You got to focus on what you can control – that’s week-to-week – and see what happens at the end of the year.”
As for the Heisman, George believes it’s Baker Mayfield’s to lose.
“I think it is,” George said. “This kid has been playing out of his mind. Even in the loss that they had to Iowa State, he still was fantastic. You can love him or hate him. He has a brash style. He’s very confident, borderline arrogant. But you got to respect him because he backs it up with his play every single week. He’s really annihilating the competition. Oklahoma historically folds and finds ways to lose big games. He’s winning those games. It’s all because of him. I think it is Baker Mayfield’s to lose at this time.”