“He’s obviously the guy we look at as a template for how to handle things like this,” offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. “He came back from a recruiting trip and came to the middle of the huddle at the end of practice. He was telling us how much he loves us and everything. That meant a lot to us. When you hear a guy like that come in and say things like that, it motivates you to move forward and win another game.”
As difficult as the losses have always been for Meyer to swallow, he’s made an effort to at least appreciate the wins more.
“We went on a nice run and I kept reminding myself through the journey to enjoy this thing, man. Keep drinking that Kool-Aid (because) someday you might have an empty glass,” Meyer said while seated in a comfortable, leather sofa, taking a break from drawing up a practice schedule. “You don’t want to live your life always knowing that some pin is going to pop the balloon. But I did enjoy every one of those wins.”
Meyer’s resume marks him as one of the most successful coaches ever. He won national titles at Florida in 2006 and 2008. He has a career record of 128-24, is 7-1 in bowl games, 11-5 against Top-10 teams and is 4-0 in BCS bowl games.
When he walked away from Florida after the 2010 season and walked into the ESPN booth as a college analyst, he could have avoided all the pressures and stomach ulcers that seem to come with the job of big-time college coaching. But he missed the competition and the kids.
Keep in mind, he left the Gators twice in less than a year. The first exit, though, lasted just a day, and was for health reasons. The second was to be with the family more. So, wrestling with these decisions _ obviously _ is not easy.
Finally, he came back to Ohio State _ a program coming off a 6-7 record and covered in mud after a year of NCAA investigations and sanctions thanks to the ugly end of Jim Tressel’s tenure _ and almost immediately turned things around.
So those who mock the Big Ten and the Buckeyes, or chide him for abandoning Florida, don’t bother him. He likes his players, he likes his program and he says he’s in good health. He’s heard angry critics call him Urban Liar.
And he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.
“I don’t listen a lot. I used to all the time,” he said. “And I heard some of the most incredible things and I was, like, `What was that?’”
Next to the computer monitor behind his oak desk in his office sits a framed quote. It was taken from a letter he got at Bowling Green during his first head-coaching stint. After a defeat.
It reads: “Don’t fear criticism. The stands are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down on the field are the doers, they make mistakes because they attempt many things.”
Asked whose words those are, Meyer shakes his head.
“It was an anonymous letter,” he said. “It’s been on my desk ever since.”