The Undoubtful Urban Meyer

Published by Stephanie Otey on Buckeye Scoop 10.9.20

Whether or not you are a football fan, you can learn a lot about success from Urban Meyer.  From undefeated records to National Championship titles, Coach Meyer’s experience and knowledge on building winning teams is deeply rooted in leadership, belief and culture.

When Meyer spots talent, he has the utmost determination to help them achieve optimal achievement. Even when others question his take on an individual’s potential, Meyer stands by his belief and will make a believer out of any doubter. When he was told that the 2005 first overall NFL Draft pick, Alex Smith, was a bust, Meyer’s response was “if that kid can’t play in the NFL, then I will never coach one that can”. 

Beyond talent, Meyer saw a characteristic in Smith that he prioritizes when selecting his quarterbacks: toughness. As Meyer has done countless times, he proved the doubters wrong when it came to Alex Smith’s NFL expectations. The quarterback’s perseverance led to success when he took command of the Kansas City offense after battling through injuries and coaching turnover in San Francisco. In 2017, Smith set an NFL record for the most passes without an interception (287) at the start of the season and finished with 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Smith’s toughness was on high display Sunday in Washington’s loss to the Rams when he overcame the impossible. Smith returned to the field, in place of Kyle Allen, for the first time since 2018 after recovering from a life threatening leg injury. 

Meyer also received pushback when he hired his successor at Ohio State, now Head Coach, Ryan Day. Meyer knew it was his call and when he was questioned about Day’s capability, he never doubted his faith in him. Meyer explains that Coach Day “proved he’s better than great, he’s elite, and I see infrastructure that is the best in college football”. When Meyer believes in someone, he believes with all of his might. Once again, Meyer’s undoubtful belief led to success as Ryan Day led the Buckeyes to beat their rival, win the Big Ten Championship and compete in the College Football Playoff.

What better motivation is there than the head coach standing by their unwavering belief in you? It certainly is inspiring but what if an individual is not internally motivated? Meyer shares that it is all about the approach which is rooted in his belief that “there’s greatness in everyone and if you just keep pushing and grinding and at some point… greatness will surface”.

The roster of players and coaches that have played for the legendary coach are the first to tell you how motivating and inspiring Coach Meyer is. You can’t doubt his record. How did he encourage an Ohio State team banned from the postseason and limited scholarships to have a 12-0 season in his first year as their head coach? How did he lead the Buckeyes to win the National Championship with their third string quarterback in a year of utmost adversity? In addition to his dedication and expertise, a key contributor is his humanity.

Coach Meyer immediately connected with each player on his team and embedded the winning culture that still thrives in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center today. Meyer explains how powerful it is for the team to love each other, saying that “it’s relationships that are superhuman and a lot of times in life you really don’t get to experience those.” Meyer uses the example of playing against Penn State in the intimidating environment of Happy Valley. “How in the world do you walk out of that game with a win?” Meyer explains that “it’s because there’s the camaraderie and love for the teammates and the staff. That’s the only way you win that game”. 

Meyer shares one play in particular when wide receiver, Terry McLaurin, blocked two defenders to allow his teammate to run the ball. Meyer admires McLaurin’s selflessness in how he threw “his body in harm’s way to get K.J. Hill into the end zone. He didn’t get paid for it… he didn’t get the recognition he deserved in the media but he loved his brother and he loved his teammates and he trusted his coaching staff.”

An all-inclusive mindset instills trust in a team. Meyer cares for each player as more than just the number on their jersey and sincerely wants the best for them. In order to win a National Championship and beat your rival seven years in a row, Meyer reiterates that “it takes superhuman effort and how do you get superhuman effort? It’s relationships that are superhuman.” 

Meyer acknowledges that each of those relationships are rare and unique. The difficulty of the game itself and the brutal grind of a season tests a program but Meyer led by example. He deeply cares for each member of the team and puts in relentless effort to be elite. In turn, his players, coaches and staff are undoubtfully bought in and trust the process. That love for the buckeye brotherhood lives on.

In the year of 2020, the pandemic greatly tests college football programs. Ohio State still follows the example Meyer set during his time as Head Coach of the Buckeyes. Throughout the uncertainty of the Big Ten season, Meyer is proud of Coach Day and the team with “the way they’ve handled themselves. He says “they were never disrespectful, they went about their business in a very professional manner and [he] can’t be more proud”.

Buckeye Nation is in good hands thanks to Urban Meyer’s lasting contributions and belief in Coach Day who carries on the winning culture. The intense belief in his team, fierce dedication to win and the sincerity of his lasting bonds undoubtfully helped shape the superhuman that is Urban Meyer. 

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