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Ohio State’s Urban Meyer has a new focus, and it comes off the field

Coach Meyer has long been worried about on the field problems, but his focus has shifted over the years.

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

“This is a topic of conversation among my colleagues in the profession now. It’s constant now. Fifteen years ago, no. Back then it was, Tell me about the spread offense. Tell me about punt return. Now it’s about the mental and well-being of your players.”

- Urban Meyer via Bruce Feldman, Sports Illustrated

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has had a well-documented history of his competitiveness and desire to win games. It essentially drove him out of Florida due to health issues often caused by the stress to be perfect. Obviously, that Urban Meyer is long gone, and though the competitive drive remains, he’s figured out how to balance his time and family with his job in football. Now, Meyer is doing even more to learn and promote things regarding mental health. Bruce Feldman did a wonderful article on it and how it affects players such as defensive tackle Robert Landers.

Meyer makes a great point when he says that mental health in sports is getting so much more awareness than before. Look no further than Kevin Love from the Cleveland Cavaliers or DeMar Derozan for the Toronto Raptors, both of which opened up about their struggles with mental health. Meyer has instilled an importance in the topics similar to that and has “Real Life Wednesdays” every week where they have a speaker and talk openly about problems they face.

“You can win a lot of games in any conference with the ability to develop players (look at Michigan), but Indiana will never be INDIANA again without recruiting a whole bunch of big-name players. ”

- Marcus Hartman, Dayton Daily News

We got a small glimpse at what could be last season when Ohio State and Indiana met on the basketball court. Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann and Indiana Hoosiers coach Archie Miller have begun the process of rekindling an old rivalry between Ohio State and Indiana and with the recent recruiting success for both teams, things could heat up quickly. The Hoosiers picked up Romeo Langford, a five-star shooting guard. Holtmann, meanwhile has had similar pickups, most recently getting Alonzo Gaffney for the 2019 class.

Holtmann has also had success with getting transfers from other teams. Based of last season alone, Holtmann has the edge right now in the rivalry as he led Ohio State to a 25-win season, while the Hoosiers and Miller struggled, finishing 16-15. Either way, both coaches have a bright future ahead of them and there will almost certainly be plenty of high-stake matchups between the two in the coming years.

“And I think there’s a really good chance that what truly has him energized right now, both as a recruiter and in getting ready to contend on the field again this season, is erasing the painful, puzzling memory of what happened last November at Iowa.”

- Austin Ward, Land of 10

Has Clemson helped Urban Meyer get some of his motivation and inspired him at all? The answer is probably not, but it’s still an interesting question. I think Austin Ward of Land of 10 makes a great point when he says what’s probably motivating him the most right now is the loss to Iowa last season, when the Hawkeyes dismantled the Buckeyes in Kinnick Stadium. That loss essentially knocked Ohio State out of the national title picture, after the Buckeyes had previously dropped a game to Oklahoma at home.

Alabama and Clemson provide a nice benchmark for Meyer to match however, as both have won championships since the Buckeyes last hoisted the trophy in 2014. The Tigers have beaten Ohio State both times they faced each other under Meyer, so it’s understandable to think that Dabo Swinney might be a thorn in Meyer’s side. Hopefully the Buckeyes will be able to exact some revenge or find the peak of college football again this season.