It’s official. Ohio State has hired Urban Meyer as its newest head coach.
A little less than a year ago, Meyer stood at a lectern at Florida and gave a far different speech than the one he delivered Monday evening at an introductory press conference in Columbus, Ohio.
The two-time national champion coach at Florida was haggard and gaunt as he announced his resignation for a second time back in December.
While Gators fans are torn about Meyer’s decision to get back into coaching so suddenly after leaving a floundering Florida program a year ago, athletics director Jeremy Foley was warm and complimentary of the former coach in a statement released by the University of Florida.
“We will always be indebted to Urban Meyer and his contributions to the University of Florida,” he said. “He elevated our program, winning multiple national championships and made a strong impact in this community. Over the past 11 months, he has clearly had an opportunity to determine that now is the right time to return to coaching.
“He is good for college football and we knew he would return to the sidelines to coach again. We wish nothing but the best for him and his family as he embarks on a new chapter in his career.”
After putting together a terrific six-year career at Florida, health issues and a lack of family time led to Meyer stepping away from the game.
He spent most of the past year working as a college football analyst for ESPN, which gave him time to “reflect and research” better ways to make time for family and coaching.
The new Buckeyes’ coach said he’s feeling very healthy and is ready to begin coaching at a place that has meant a great deal to him over the years.
“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to return to Ohio State,” Meyer said. “This University and the state of Ohio have enormous meaning to me. My duty is to ensure that Ohio State’s football program reflects and enhances the academic mission of the institution. I am part of it, I believe in it, and I will live it.”
Meyer was approached by Ohio State about the job on Nov. 20. After speaking with athletics director Gene Smith several times, Meyer met with him on Nov. 23. The two sides reached an agreement, and Meyer accepted the job on Sunday.
It wasn’t an easy decision for Meyer, who admitted he had second thoughts about taking the job.
“Second, third, fourth, fifth thoughts. A lot of thoughts,” he said. “It was tougher than any other contract I’ve signed in my life.”
Meyer said he was overburdened by trying to handle too many jobs at Florida. He said he went to a dark place due to his “pursuit of perfection” and said he won’t mimic that approach to coaching at Ohio State.
“I feel very blessed to be able to stand here, to know where I was and know where I don’t want to go again,” he said.
Though he’s taking another job, the former Florida coach who won two national titles in Gainesville still has fond memories of the Gators.
“Florida was my dream job,” he said. “I will always be a Gator. However, this is my home state and it’s great to be back home.”