Why This is Urban Meyer’s Year to Win it All?
Earlier this week, I had a discussion with one of my writer buddies about how good Urban Meyer is as a coach, given the fact he has had over a month to prepare his Ohio State Buckeyes for their bowl game matchup with Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
While there is some discussion over which of the four head coaches in the playoff is the best (Mark Helfrich is certainly fourth in the debate), you could make an argument any one of the remaining three, Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher and Meyer are the best of the lot at what they do. Saban has more titles than either Fisher, who coaches the current national champion FSU Seminoles, or Meyer, who won two titles in a three-year span at Florida and is trying to win another at the school where he grew up idolizing the late great Woody Hayes.
Titles mean everything in college football and sports in general, but when it comes right down to it, there may not be a better game day planner than Meyer. And in reality, amongst the four teams left with a chance at the national title, his Buckeyes might be the least talented.
No one can compare with the 39-3 record Meyer has complied in three seasons in Columbus, his dream job, as he told the media after being hired (he said that at Florida after being named the head coach of the Gators), and with his work he has accomplished, beating Michigan three years in a row, playing this season with three quarterbacks if you count Braxton Miller in spring ball.
He is certainly one of the greats of all time in terms of coaching and WINNING. The Florida faithful and others across the country may not be enamored of his personality or his decision making, but Meyer is what Meyer is – a winner – and in this age of winning matters, what’s not to think this is not his season to run the table, beat Alabama and then face either Florida State or Oregon for the first CFP Title.
The role of the underdog is not a common theme for Meyer, but he is one who fights for his tram, his players and his program as he did in 2006 when he politicked for Florida to play in the national title game against the Buckeyes – a game the Gators won.
Right now, the underdog role fits and if it fits, me must wear the costume and play the title role if the Buckeyes have a chance at history.
According to Cleveland.com, “Given his past, by the time Ohio State takes the field for its College Football Playoff semifinal against Alabama on Jan. 1, Meyer could have the Buckeyes believing the Crimson Tide gets to play with 13 men, including Joe Namath at quarterback.”
Yes, he is that good.
Meyer's Florida team was a seven-point underdog to Ohio State then - an underdog that won by 27 points.
This time, his Ohio State team is a nine-point underdog to Alabama, that line holding steady since it came out.
"We're not there yet," Meyer said last week when I asked about the underdog idea for this game compared to eight years ago. "We'll see what kind of team we have. That was over the top."
Ohio State was an underdog twice this season, on the road at Michigan State and in the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin. Those games resulted in 12-point and 59-point wins for the Buckeyes.
Alabama is a better team now than Florida was back then, eight years ago. The defense is tighter and the offense is a striking machine. Can the magic happen again, in a different scenario, in a locale Meyer knows very well (The Sugar Bowl) in an atmosphere that will certainly be pro-Crimson Tide and hostile toward Meyer himself, as well as his team?
"He knows how good this team is," senior receiver Devin Smith said. "He's talked all year about how we've gotten better each week. He told us don't worry about what other people have to say because they aren't here in winter when we're working out, they're not here in the summer when we're running sprints.
"He believes we're not an underdog and he wants us to go show people we're not an underdog."
Not an underdog?
For Florida's second national title after the 2008 season, Florida was a 5.5-point favorite over Oklahoma and won by 10.
With two great coaches on the sidelines, the pressure of being a team “expected to lose” and a month to coach this team into believing it is the best on the field on Jan. 1, there is no doubt the Buckeyes could be the spoiler in this CFP ointment.
The only thing Meyer has to do is take a little of what he has done down south and mix it with some Midwestern swagger and that ever-present monotone confidence he is known for. The rest will have to be worked out and more importantly, played out in New Orleans.
That is Meyer’s motive – not just for him, but the players who play well within his personality.
Underdog – don’t bet on it.