How Ohio State Got Here: Urban Meyer (and staff) put up the best coaching job in recent college football history

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Author @TheCoachBart

You look at that headline and you probably roll your eyes. Look at this site, pandering for clicks!

Not so much. Like 19 people read my columns, so flashing headlines, hyperbole, or “smoldering takes” aren’t really a good schtick.

The truth of the reality is, the headline might just be the truth. Urban Meyer and his Ohio State coaching staff have honestly put together as good a job as anyone could possibly have imagined. Try and counter with another example — you’d have a very high standard to meet.

Of course, the playing field isn’t necessarily level for this sort of thing. How does one compare the job at Ohio State this year to that of P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan, for instance, turning around one of the absolute worst programs in FBS and making the Broncos a bowl outfit in only a year?

Some can also say that since Ohio State went unbeaten the previous two regular seasons before either not getting a chance to prove anything (2012) or stumbling in the Big Ten title game (2013), this season is just a progression from the last two seasons.

“Yeah, best job in recent college football history when OSU actually lost a game this year in the regular season. Whatever, dude.” – Hot Take Guy.


To understand why it was so great is to understand the dynamics of more than stupid numbers and comparisons to previous years. Look at what OSU’s staff did … losing its Heisman Trophy candidate and senior leader quarterback a week before the season was to begin.

Keep in mind, Braxton Miller had been the leader of the program since he was a freshman and suffered through the one-year gap betwixt Jim Tressel and Meyer. It’s not as though OSU had a seasoned veteran awaiting behind Miller.

That guy was Kenny Guiton, who aptly had stepped in for Miller when he was hurt in previous years. The only problem with Guiton? He sort of, you know, graduated. He was gone.

That left a hole at the most important position in the game, and the only guys capable of taking it over were seldom-used Cardale Jones and never-used J.T. Barrett. Recalibrate expectations? Nah. The rest is sort of history. Barrett sailed into a record-setting, Hesiman-discussion season as a redshirt freshman until being hurt against Michigan in what at the time was a close game.

Jones came in and dusted off the “seldom used” letter jacket, helped put Michigan away, and then led the Buckeyes to a rousing CFB Playoff victory against the big, bad SEC champ, Alabama.

That’s really only a portion of the story. After losing to Virginia Tech in week two, OSU and the Big Ten were supposed to be dead to rights. Everyone had a take on how bad the Big Ten was, and OSU losing to a recovering but still mediocre ACC team was only more grist for the mill.

This is where the most impressive part of the story may have been. Meyer and staff never let the team believe the season was over or that the goals couldn’t be accomplished, and when everyone is weighing down on you, sometimes that’s when it’s toughest to pick yourself up and plod on.

Which is what OSU did, rolling through a solid Big Ten including a pasting of Michigan State in East Lansing, where the Bucks hung 49 on the defending champs who had sliced them from limb to limb in last season’s conference championship game.

So … one could call the writer here out and say, “Hey, fool, you voted for Gary Patterson of TCU for the Eddie Robinson Award.” True, but the folly in these award voting procedures is that they come in the regular season, when the money games have yet to be played.

Dually noted, Meyer didn’t win the Big Ten Coach of the Year award, which was designated by the media. The theory is that Ohio State enters every game with more talent than anyone else, so it’s only natural that the Buckeyes would win, I guess. I don’t vote on that one.

But just having talent doesn’t make it easy to win. Ask Michigan or Florida how that’s been going lately. Win or lose against Oregon on Monday, what OSU has done both as a team and from a coaching standpoint is impressive. All would have been forgiven in September had the Buckeyes limped around this season licking their mental wounds from the August Miller shake-up.

Normally, you just don’t wander into a bowl game with Alabama with your third-string quarterback and end the Tide’s season. Maybe it helped to not have a lot of film on Jones for the Alabama coaching staff. The plays still had to be made, though.

I’m not going through comparing other recent coaching jobs. Circumstances, expectations, and forks in the road were different. The straight dope is that what Urban Meyer and his staff did this season was something to behold, something we may never see again.

Enjoy it for what it is, and win or lose Monday night, it has been great. Before this season started, I was on some radio show and called Meyer the best college football coach of this generation. Scoffing ensued. Only a few months later, it looks like common knowledge.