Urban Meyer shares stories, wisdom at Ohio coaches clinic

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday February 12, 2013

Posted by: Chris Vannini on February 11, 2013

The annual Ohio coaches convention in Ohio always has some memorable moments, and it was no different this year.

Urban Meyer spoke to the audience for an hour over the weekend, and it had nothing to do with Xs and Os. The general theme of his speech was about looking out for kids and making sure they find success off the field.

That relationship with a player begins with the recruitment, and Meyer is not too happy with the current state of recruiting.

"For some reason, there's a new generation of coaches being developed out there," Meyer said. "What makes you a great recruiter? Is it the fact he uses two cell phones when you're only supposed to have one? Is it the fact that he's really good friends with the 7-on-7 coach, gives him money and hats when you're not supposed to, and then all of a sudden, you're getting players. Is that what it's all about? Is it some other nonsense that you're not supposed to do.

"Or does the great recruiter that makes the same great coach, it is because, genuinely, that prospect knows, deep in his heart, that the coach cares about him? I love this saying: You can move mountains with a football team if they know you care about them. That's the tricky part."

That recruitment takes dedication. Meyer retired from Florida because of burnout, but he remains one of the best recruiters among head coaches, and it wasn't hard to see why.

"I've had (assistant) coaches, and when I talk to them, (they say), 'I made my call this week.' I'll check the records, and it's a minute and a half,' Meyer said. "You just made a call, you have to make 10 phone calls. But it was a minute-and-a-half-call. Now, what the hell is going on in a minute-and-a-half conversation? I've also had the other coaches, where I see that phone call was an hour and 15 minutes. When I walk into a home visit with the assistant coach, how do you think he reacts when the (family member) is there. Do you think it's, 'Hi, how are you?' What usually happens when you're with one of those guys?

"It's hugging them, laughing, talking stories about their phone call, their visits, their girlfriends, their favorite NFL team, what they want to do after football. What chance do you have of getting that guy as opposed to the guy that walks in and says, 'Hey, how's it going?' I'm thinking, 'What they hell are we doing here? What relationship?' And you think you're going to get this kid?

But not every recruit works out. That's just what happens. But why is that? Meyer did a study figuring out what happens and why. And why coaches need to prevent it.

"I did a two-week study, not just on our program, they sign 21 kids. We recruit you three and you go to Ohio State or any school in the Big Ten. You know what the statistical analysis shows you? One in three doesn't make it," Meyer said. "They disappear. How in the hell does that happen? You have the best trainers, the best strength coaches, the best academic support systems, the best coaches. How does a guy disappear? He's getting a free education. You know what he pays for food? Nothing. You know what he pays for his tutors? Nothing. What happens? One of you three guys aren't going to make it.

"I'm sitting there, and my head almost popped off my shoulders as I was driving around going to see these players. ... The second one, they're average. They kind of dick around a little bit, they play a little bit, they're a 2.1 GPA. They maybe get a degree, maybe they don't. If they do get a degree, it's not very good for him. Then the third guy, the John Simon of the world. He makes it. He has a 2.8 or 3.0 and he starts preparing himself for life after football. Why does that happen? What's our job as educators. ... We can't have one disappear.

"We can't have your guy show up at Ohio State, a big campus, there's alcohol, there's this, there's girls, there's this going on. You throw his ass out to the wolves without you being there for him, what's going to happen to that guy?"

Meyer's entire speech is below, and I recommend you take the time to listen to the whole thing. I'll close this post with one of the craziest stories I've heard about a coach. It shouldn't be surprising it's about Woody Hayes.

I'll let Meyer take it from here, talking about his first season as an assistant at Ohio State:

"So I guess Ohio State had lost the bowl game, so Earl Bruce brings in Woody Hayes. I had been there just a week and I'm thinking, 'Holy, this is Coach Hayes.' I'm sitting in the back. Coach Hayes was not healthy at the time, but stands up and starts laying into the coaching staff about toughness. That we have no toughness in the program. That's why we lost the game. On and on and screaming, this old guy pounding the table. He says, 'We have no toughness, and the reason is because you're not tough. No one on this staff is tough enough, and that's a problem.'

"He reaches down and grabs this box, slides the top and there was something in the box moving around. He reaches in and he pulls out this turtle. He reaches down, this turtle's snapping and he says, 'I'm going to show you toughness.' He unzips his pants and takes out whatever he takes out. The turtle reaches up and snaps at him. You see the veins and the sweat (on Hayes). He screams at the coaches, 'That's toughness! That's f'n toughness!' He reaches down, pokes the turtle right in the eye and it falls off. He wipes the sweat off his forehead and says, 'That's the problem. We don't have anybody in this room tough enough to do that right there.

"(One assistant) raises his hand and says, 'Coach, I'd do this. Just promise not to poke me in the eye.'"

Update: Ohio State has clarified that Meyer's turtle story was a joke.



Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to chris@coachingsearch.com

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.

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