- Associated Press - Monday, November 28, 2011

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - New Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says he would not have returned to coaching this year for any other job.

Meyer, the former Florida coach and native Buckeye, was officially hired Monday by Ohio State, a program with a glittering past that has suffered through a difficult year of NCAA violations.

Meyer resigned as Gators coach after last season, citing health concerns and a desire to spend more time with his family.

“A year ago in my mind I was convinced I was done coaching,” he said.


He added that he is feeling great.

“I’ve been checked out and I’m ready to go,” he said.

Meyer will become one of the highest paid coaches in college football. The school says he will receive a six-year contract that pays $4 million annually, plus another $2.4 million total in “retention payments.”

Interim coach Luke Fickell, who took over when Jim Tressel was forced out for breaking NCAA rules, will coach the Buckeyes (6-6) in their bowl game and be retained by Meyer as an assistant.

Meyer won two national championships in six years as the coach at Florida. Now, the 47-year-old will return to the place where his college coaching career began in 1986 after spending a year as an ESPN game analyst.

Earle Bruce, the head coach at Ohio State when Meyer was a graduate assistant, has remained a close friend and confidant of Meyer through the years. He said he had no concerns about Meyer’s health issues.

“Well, if he’d had a heart attack and his heart was bad, I’d be worried about that,” the 80-year-old Bruce said on Monday. “I’m not worried that he was stressed out over the game of football because he was thinking too much and not doing some things (exercising) that would have kept him straight. I think he got everything back under control by sitting out a year. I think he missed football. And he’s good at it.”

A team meeting set for Sunday night was moved to Monday afternoon before the news conference to allow Meyer to meet his players.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, who played at Kent State and coached at Toledo in the Buckeye state, said he was happy for Meyer.

“I’m sure he’s excited about it, and I’m excited for him that he has an opportunity to go back to his home state and be the head coach here,” Saban said. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity and I think he’ll do a great job.”

Meyer takes over a program that is likely facing NCAA sanctions and was crippled by the forced resignation of Tressel. The Buckeyes completed their only season under Fickell with a 40-34 loss to Michigan on Saturday that snapped a seven-game winning streak to their rivals.

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