Meyer promises change as Ohio State coach

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COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - Before Urban Meyer could agree to a contract as Ohio State’s new football coach, he had to sign something provided by his two college-age daughters and his young son.

It was a piece of pink paper on which he promised that he won’t overdo it, that he won’t work too hard, that he’ll take care of himself this time.

“This is a contract that my kids made me sign before I was allowed to sign a real contract,” he said. “It’s tougher than any other contract I’ve signed in my life.”

With that out of the way, Meyer was free to sign a six-year deal that pays him around $4.4 million a year, not counting bonuses and incentives. A winner of two national championships during his glittering six-year tenure at Florida, he’ll be expected to bring some luster back to a football program that has been tainted by 12 months of NCAA violations, suspensions and a 6-6 record.

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,” the 47-year-old Meyer said.

Now he’s convinced he can balance a healthy life and a high-pressure job.

“I had a health scare a couple of years ago that made me sit back, reflect,” Meyer said of heart and stress problems. “I didn’t feel right. But I feel fantastic now.”

He also yearned to be back on the sideline at the Horseshoe.

“If not for the coaching position at Ohio State, I would not have coached this year,” said Meyer, who grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio, about 200 miles from campus.

Interim coach Luke Fickell, who took over when Jim Tressel was forced out for breaking NCAA rules, will coach the Buckeyes in their bowl game. Meyer will keep him on as an assistant but declined to say in what capacity.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said his first conversation with Meyer about the coaching job was by phone on Nov. 20. The two met face-to-face three days later. Things moved quickly from there.

“We’re blessed to have him as our football coach,” said Smith, who said it was luck that he was able to find a candidate with such a sterling resume.

Meyer spent six years at Florida, winning national titles in 2006 and 2008. He spent his year away from coaching working as a college football analyst for ESPN and watching his two daughters play volleyball for their college teams.

Meyer met with the team on Monday before the news conference and said he was impressed with the players’ enthusiasm.

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