By Mitch Light
You can mock Urban Meyer about his family-first statements. You can question his ability to handle the rigors — both physically and mentally — of coaching at Ohio State. You can cite the high number of arrests that have occurred under his watch. You can call him a hypocrite. But you have to admit that the guy is a great football coach.
Some of his doubters will insist that his outstanding record at Florida is simply a product of Tim Tebow’s greatness. That is ridiculous. Meyer has won at a high level at all three of his stops as a head coach, compiling an overall record of 104–23 and a 50–19 mark in league play.
In 2001, Meyer inherited a Bowling Green team that won two games and averaged 15.8 points the previous season. In his first year, the Falcons went 8–3 and doubled their scoring output to 30.2 points per game. The following season, in ’02, Bowling Green went 9–3 and averaged 40.8 points per game.
At Utah, he took over a program that had suffered two losing seasons in the previous two years, including a 5–6 mark in 2002, and went on to records of 10–2 and 11–0 (did not coach the bowl game) in his two seasons. His ’04 Utah team set a school record by averaging 45.3 points and became the first non-AQ school to earn a spot in a BCS bowl. The Utes also produced the top overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, quarterback Alex Smith.
Then, in 2005, Meyer began a six-year run at Florida that featured a 36–13 record in SEC play and two national championships. His teams won 13 games on three occasions, and he went 3–0 in BCS bowls. And in three of his six seasons, the Gators ranked first in the SEC in total offense.
His detractors will point to his final season at Florida — an 8–5 record in 2010 — but not every coach wins at a high level every season. That might be the only wart on what has been a near-flawless coaching record.
And I don’t buy the argument that it’s easy to win at Florida. In fact, history proves just the opposite. Meyer and Steve Spurrier are the only two coaches who have consistently competed for championships in Gainesville.
The bottom line: Meyer is one of the elite coaches in the game and is almost sure to win at a high level as the boss at Ohio State. I have no problem with those who question the way he goes about his business off the field, but it’s almost impossible to find fault with what he has done in the between the lines.
I’d be shocked if Ohio Sate is not competing for a national title in the very near future. He is the right coach at the right time.