The past 90 days of Ohio State Buckeyes football have been a whirlwind. From the suspension of head coach Urban Meyer, to the team securing victories over Penn State and TCU en route to a 7-0 start. The program looked like it was bouncing back from a rocking start at the beginning of the season.
Until it wasn’t.
Losing to Purdue set off an avalanche of criticism and speculation against the team and Meyer. One of the emerging murmurs was the health of the Buckeye boss, who appeared at times to be in distress on the sideline over the past few weeks. While a good portion of the distress could be from the team committing unforced errors, Meyer has had health scares in the past, dating back to his abrupt retirement at Florida. While at OSU, Meyer underwent brain surgery in 2014 to ease pressure on his brain caused by a cyst that he’s had for his entire life. Following that procedure he still takes medication.
On Monday, during his game-week press conference, Meyer reaffirmed that he is committed to coaching at Ohio State this year and next. Additionally, when probed about his reactions on the sideline, he said that, “I don’t want people to worry about me”.
Those seemed like sufficient answers, and with the Buckeyes still in hot pursuit of a Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff berth, focusing on the team — and deflecting the attention away from the coach — seemed like, well, coach talk.
But on Tuesday, Meyer spoke with a select group of Ohio State media, with the focus being on his health. He aired out the severity of his condition (the congenital arachnoid cyst), but once again reaffirmed his desire to coach.
What stood out, though, in the piece by Doug Lesmerises of cleveland.com was this statement:
He does not feel very good right now. As a husband, father of three and grandfather of one, with another grandchild on the way, he is considering his quality of life beyond his coaching days.
No matter what your profession is, there’s always a life outside of it, and if you’re lucky, a life outside after it. Coaching is one of many round-the-clock occupations, and it eventually takes its toll. When you’re juggling health on top of that, the tasks become harder.
Again, while Meyer still says he wants to be the coach at Ohio State, he’s taking proactive steps to let people know what he’s going up against in terms of his health.
While Meyer’s willingness to finally discuss his health in depth after years of deflection is appreciated, the timing and rationale seems apparent. As rumors about a potential departure being imminent for the three-time national championship winning coach begin to pick up steam, if he does intend to continue coaching — which he says that he does — it makes sense for Meyer to go public with his health issues and to let people (namely recruits) know that he has been dealing with — and winning in spite of — these concerns for years.