As if there was a more preaching-to-the-choir topic we could possibly broach, Urban Meyer's two years in Columbus have been anything if not historic. Heading into the home stretch of Meyer's Year Two, historically the transformative season in which Meyer's teams bloom from budding thorn in the rest of the conference's side to (to borrow a phrase from our friends at MGoBlog), a "death butterfly, Meyer's never lost at Ohio State. With two games to go in the 2013 regular season, Meyer stands 22-0, 14-0 in Big Ten conference play, 5-0 against Top 25 teams, and perhaps most importantly, 1-0 against hated archrival Michigan.
Meyer's Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award credentials transcend what's he's done alone on the football field, however, and carry on into his impact in the Central Ohio community off it.
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Before we look specifically at the ways in which Meyer's kept his coaching brethren predecessors' streak of paying it forward alive and well, let's take a quick look at a few of his many accomplishments in getting the Ohio State football program back to where it needed to be:
Urban Meyer's recruiting classes vs 2011
All figures courtesy of the 247Composite rankings
Ohio State's recruiting classes were by no means necessarily suffering under Jim Tressel and bridge-coach Luke Fickell, but Meyer took an already perpetual Top 10 recruiting machine and turned into a potential year in-year out threat for college football recruiting's top class. The 2012 class in particular deserves high praise, as it was heading towards a place in the teens at best before Meyer, in no short order, helped ensure it finished fifth in the country.
Meyer signing class commits Taylor Decker, Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, Joshua Perry, and diamond in the rough post-Signing Day find Cam Johnston, despite being just second and first year collegiate athletes, are all starters, and in many cases, significant contributors to the #3 ranked team in the Week 13 BCS Standings.
The more directly on the field product speaks for itself. Though 2012 had its fair share of turbulent roller coaster contests, Ohio State left each test better for it and still unscathed. Star quarterback Braxton Miller's even missed significant portions of four different games in the last two seasons, and Meyer's managed to push all the right buttons to win games that might've vexed lesser game managers.
Perhaps just as impressively to Meyer's name is the fact that six of his current assistants have either interviewed for or been tied to vacant head coaching openings during the last two seasons. It's one thing to win games on the field and develop talented young athletes into next level caliber players, but do it with the coaches working under you as well?
While Dan Mullen at Mississippi State appears to have all but maximized his run there and Tim Beckman's tenure at Illinois never materialized the way many thought it should've, former Meyer assistant Charlie Strong is routinely heralded as one of the best in the country. Additionally Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's program almost single handedly helped the Utes make the transition from non-AQ BCS darlings to BCS school, and Steve Addazio has Boston College heading towards perennial ACC contender status. And as the years go by, Meyer's coaching tree will only continue to bloom.
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Meyer's off the field accolades and standing in the community are equally as important. Meyer and wife Shelley have set up the Urban and Shelley Meyer Cancer Research Fund and even joined forces to help benefit his mentor (and former Ohio State head coach in his own right) Earle Bruce and his late wife Jean's Alzheimer's Research Fund at the Buckeye Football Spring Kick-Off gala this past spring. Meyer was also the keynote speaker at the eight annual "Champions Among Us" dinner in Youngstown this past June to help benefit the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.
The little things certainly matter, too. In addition to getting his players to be staples at Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital, Meyer himself drew attention over the summer when after learning a young patient had named his cancer "Michigan" in order to beat it, he personally got involved.
Here’s Urban Meyer with Grant Reed, the 12-year-old Ohio State fan who nicknamed his cancer Michigan, then beat it " pic.twitter.com/XIN2DtNEIQ— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 9, 2013
Though as long as Meyer continues to win at the unprecedented clip he has he'll likely continue ruffling feathers nationally, as long as he's Ohio State's head coach, the Buckeyes couldn't be in better hands, both on the field and off it. Perhaps most telling about Meyer's success is were he to walk away from the program and school tomorrow, he'd leave the football program in a much stronger place than he inherited it in. And given how already unprecedentedly strong in Ohio State's long football history rich it already was, that's truly saying a lot.
You can help Urban Meyer continue to make a difference by voting him for Liberty Mutual's Coach of the Year. Should Meyer ultimately claim the honor, he'd have $50,000 more to donate to his cancer research fund or any number of other charities near and dear to his heart.