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The Suburbanite
  • Urban Meyer's stop in Canton: Part Three

  • In the third and final installment featuring Urban Meyer’s words from a stop in Canton, the Ohio State coach tells a funny story how Earle Bruce and Lou Holtz both had to set him straight.

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  • What if Urban Meyer had said no?
    Actually, he did. Fifteen years into a career as an assistant coach, he turned down a shot to finally be a head coach. He was happy working with wide receivers at Notre Dame.
    Maybe he wouldn’t have won two national titles at Florida, maybe he wouldn’t be the next big hope at Ohio State if his “mentors” hadn’t set him straight.
    Here’s the way Meyer told it to an attentive packed house at the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club. That and other stories are featured in the final part of a transcript of Meyer’s visit to Canton this past Monday.
    The story picks up with Meyer having left Colorado State, where he had hired by former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, to join Lou Holtz in South Bend.
    It is the end of Meyer’s five-year stay in South Bend, with Bob Davie having replaced Holtz at the Notre Dame helm.
    “Earle Bruce and Lou Holtz are my mentors. Imagine that, how spoiled I am to say those are my two guys. Bowling Green called. I was only 36. I wasn’t ready. I loved Notre Dame.
    “I didn’t want to leave. Earle said, ‘I think you need to go after this job at Bowling Green.’ Lou Holtz called as well and said I needed to go interview for this job. I interviewed and got the job.
    “I turned it down. I had to make the two tough phone calls. I called Earle and told him. You know his colorful way of putting things. We have ladies here. I won’t share what was said. Then I had to call Coach Holtz and tell him I’m not going to take the job. He said, ‘What? Why not?’ I said, ‘It’s not a good job.’ He said, ‘Well of course it’s not. If it was a good job, you think they’d be calling you?’ ”
    • • •
    Yesterday’s transcript covered Meyer’s dramatic portrayal of how Ohio State righted its 2012 season with two gut-wrenching meetings after an ugly third-game win. Here’s Meyer talking about finishing it off with a 12-0 record.
    “I’m proud to say it’s one of six teams ever to play in that great stadium to go undefeated and untied. We weren’t the most talented team in college football, but I can tell you this. By the end of the year, that team, your team, down in that big beautiful stadium, could have played with anybody in America, because that group of players ripped their chest open and started on Sept. 29 at 11:22 a.m. (not that I remember exactly) ... a group of players ripped their chests open and said, ‘Enough’s enough.’
    Page 2 of 3 - “And it was magic. We had two overtime wins. And then obviously the closing game (a 26-21 win) against our rival. To see all the people rush on that field. That was magic.
    “How does magic happen? It’s not because of a secret defense or a secret offense. It’s the same thing as 100 years ago here in Canton, Ohio. Same thing from Paul Brown and Earle Bruce and all the great coaches at Massillon and Thom McDaniels and all the great coaches here at McKinley taught about football. It’s all about being selfless and dedicated and a genuine ... pure love for your teammates.”
    • • •
    Meyer lit up when someone in the audience asked him about 2012 senior Zach Boren:
    “I told (his wife) Shelley, ‘If we ever have another child, we’re gonna name him Zach.’ She told me, ‘We’re not going to have another child.’
    “But imagine what Zach Boren did. He has NFL potential as a fullback. He’s been a 3 1/2-year starter, a guy everybody looked up to. Kind of a negative personality a little bit. He completely did a 180 (after the crossroads narrow win over Cal).
    “We were down linebackers. Ryan Shazier’s hurt. Storm Klein is hurt. Curtis Grant is not ready yet. Josh Perry is hurt. Cam Williams is hurt.
    “We go out to practice on a Tuesday after we beat Nebraska and there’s no ‘backers. I have a couple choices. We have to move someone or cancel practice. I looked at Luke Fickell. What are we gonna do? I walked by and looked down. I said, ‘Zach, come here, we’re gonna go for a walk.’ Everyone else is stretching. I say, ‘Zach, I want to move you over the defense.’ He says, ‘What? When?’ I said, ‘Practice starts in five minutes.’
    “Here was a kid who was done (complaining). A coach asked him a question. As part of the team, what’s the answer. They’re no longer choices, they’re commandments. The answer’s yes. Within seven minutes he’s a starting mike linebacker at Ohio State University. I think he should go down as one of the great players in Ohio State history for what he did.”
    • • •
    Five sessions into spring practice, Meyer touched on expectations for the 2013 season:
    “We lost a bunch of good players. Next year. I don’t know. The last six games last year we were one of the top 10 teams in America on defense. The first six games we were lousy. It was really because of some fundamental errors.
    “Look at who we lost. John Simon. Nate Williams,  John Hankins. We lost Garrett Goebel. So the defensive line’s gone. (Linebacker) Etienne Sabino was one of my great leaders. He’s gone.
    Page 3 of 3 - “The good thing is we recruited well, and we’re young. If you hear good things coming from the defensive side of the ball, then we’ll be better than we were last year. Offensively I anticipate we’ll be better just because they know ... I mean, it was bad last year going into the season.
    “We’re not the fastest team in the country right now. That’s an area ... we need to get faster. We signed three guys who run 10.5 or better. That’s fast. I mean, that’s Devin Smith fast. But we need more of that. The game-breaking ability on offense was not there.”
    • • •
    Meyer’s take on junior quarterback Braxton Miller:
    “He didn’t have necessarily a great Saturday (at practice), but he’s locked in and dialed in. Braxton is a 3.3 student, great kid, no issues on or off the field, wonderful kid, good family.
    “The only negative is ... he’s so talented he’s gotten away with some very unorthodox play. He just runs around like ... ‘I’m faster than you, so I’m not going to work so hard on fundamentals.’ And he is that fast. But we’re working. He can be a fine quarterback. And he can throw. We’re really working on that.
    “And the guys around him are working. Devin Smith is having a heck of a spring, too. So to answer your question, Braxton is doing much better. I love Braxton Miller.”
    Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com
    On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP