COLUMBUS, OHIO — Urban Meyer swats aside the question about his health as if he were a cornerback batting down a wobbly pass.
“I’m taking care of myself. Thanks for asking,” he said this week during Ohio State’s last few days of spring workouts. “No, we’re fine. That’s kind of old news.”
Then, turning to more pressing issues, he quickly added, “We just have to get our skill a little bit better here, and we’ll be ready to go.”
In other words, personnel considerations take precedence over the coach’s stress level. The dire need to find game-changing players is more important than the hours spent at his office in the Woody Hayes football facility.
Meyer says everything is OK with him a few months into his first year as the head coach of the Buckeyes. He had left his job in Florida in December 2010 saying that health and family reasons forced him to step aside. A year spent as a television analyst only caused him to pine for a return to the sidelines.
Before taking the job at Ohio State - which came about after Jim Tressel was forced to resign for covering up his knowledge that his players had broken NCAA rules - Meyer’s family made him promise to not overdo it, to not suffer physically from the pressure and long hours. They said he needed to take it easy. He said he would.
Yet others close to him think Meyer hasn’t changed a whole lot.
“I’ll tell you what, Urban Meyer is the same Urban Meyer as far as X’s and O’s, as far as intensity on the football field,” said Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton, who also was on his Gators staff. “He’s in a better place right now spiritually. He’s not letting a whole lot of things get to him as much. But it’s not like he’s taking the foot off the gas pedal at all. He’s just learned how to manage it that much better.”
“I wouldn’t say scaled it back. Time to work is still time to work. And the intensity and the effort from him and from us as coaches hasn’t really changed,” he said. “I don’t notice a difference. But when it’s time to get away, I think he gets away.”
One place Meyer, who is paid $4 million a year, can get away is his new home. Priced at $1.45 million, the 11,700-square foot place backs up to the seventh fairway at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village Golf Club in suburban Dublin.