Current FOX Sports college football analyst and former college football head coach, Urban Meyer, is gaining attention from NFL ownership. While the interest has been mostly one-sided, Meyer seems likely to entertain the notion of coaching in the NFL.
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) December 19, 2019
Before entering into the coaching profession, Meyer was quite the athlete himself. In 1982, he was drafted to play professional ball–surprisingly, it wasn’t football.
Born and raised in the state of Ohio, he’d attend the University of Cincinnati from 1984-1986, where he played defensive back while receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology. However, from 1982-1983, Meyer played minor league baseball, after getting drafted 323rd overall (13th round) by the Atlanta Braves. Still, coaching football is where Meyer truly transcended.
In 1988, Urban Meyer earned his master’s at Ohio State University and obtained his first Division I coaching gig after two years as a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes. For the next 13 years, Meyer served as a positional coach for Illinois State, Colorado State, and Notre Dame before landing his first Division I head coaching job in 2001.
Ascending the ranks
In 17 seasons, Meyer never finished with a losing record. Before his 41st birthday, he’d amass a 39-8 record along with two bowl wins, including the Fiesta Bowl in 2005. If Meyer had this sort of success with Bowling Green and Utah, surely more prominent schools would come calling. And they did.
In 2005, the Universities of Florida and Notre Dame contended for Meyer’s services. Meyer elected to move to the Sunshine State, continuing his climb up the proverbial coaching ladder.
In six seasons as the Gators’ coach, Meyer won 81.3% of their games, three conference titles, and two national championships. Between 2005-2010, the Florida Gators played in a bowl game every single year, winning five of six. But health concerns would ultimately force his resignation following an Outback Bowl victory over Penn State.
Meyer could only stay away from the game for so long, however. In the fall of 2011, Meyer’s alma mater and home-state school of OSU came calling. Although he had settled into his role as an ESPN analyst and despite health concerns, Meyer returned to the sideline, but not in the NFL.
Home sweet home
In his first season, Meyer and the 2012 Ohio State football team went undefeated. But due to NCAA sanctions (unrelated to Meyer), the Buckeyes were ineligible for a conference title, postseason play, and even the Coaches poll. Had they been eligible, Meyer may have very well won his third national championship.
The following season, Ohio State’s sanctions were lifted, and Meyer took advantage of it, with a Conference division title and a trip to the 2014 Orange Bowl. In 2015, he returned to the NCAA college football final for the first time since 2008. It was Ohio State’s first national championship in 12 seasons and only their second since 1970.
Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes wouldn’t win another national championship before his retirement in 2018 due to ongoing health concerns and allegations surrounding one of his staff members. The Meyer era in Columbus, Ohio, ended after a mere seven seasons, albeit a successful seven seasons.
From 2012-2018, the Buckeyes were formidable under Meyer’s tutelage. With Meyer on the sideline, Ohio State won ten or more games in each season, going 54-4 in Big Ten games, and 83-9 overall.
Urban Meyer, NFL head coach?
So, where does the intrigue lie? As UCLA’s Red Sanders once said, “winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” No statement is more accurate of the current state of coaching in the NFL, and Urban Meyer is a proven winner. He’s been hugely successful in various environments as one of only three college head coaches (Pop Warner and Nick Saban) to ever win a major college football national title for two separate programs.
It’s no surprise that a franchise looking to turn things around would want to hire a future college football Hall of Famer as Meyer’s resume speaks for itself. With that said, his health problems will assuredly surface in an NFL interview. As Meyer has used his health to step away or retire twice, owners could request a physical to commit long term.
As I stated earlier, there will be widespread interest in Meyer, but which situation would entice the ESPN employee enough to trade in his microphone for a headset?
As an Ohio native, it’s evident that Meyer could very well join the NFL to coach the Cleveland Browns. He chose Cincinnati after high school, attended Ohio State for graduate classes, and when his health forced him out of Florida, only Ohio State enticed him enough to endure.
Could the Cleveland Browns head coach vacancy lure Urban Meyer out of retirement and into the NFL? The position alone won’t be enough, I’m afraid. While Meyer’s spread offense system offers hope to a uber-talented Brown’s offense, his coaching style is quite malleable. In other words, Meyer’s coaching philosophy would more than likely find success with many different team’s current roster situations.
Take the Dallas Cowboys, for example. Not only is coaching the Cowboys a dream come true for any striving young football coach, but the offense and defensive side of the ball are arguably loaded with as much talent as the Browns.
If Meyer is to commit to coaching in the NFL, it will be on his terms and with the team, staff, players, and front office he feels best about. Meyer will require a strong run game (Barkley, Elliott, Chubb) with a young, coachable quarterback (Jones, Prescott, Mayfield), and talent on the defensive side of the football.
It seems that Meyer will have many NFL coaching options to weigh this offseason.