Ohio St. Football: Urban Meyer Press Conference Transcript

Ohio St. didn’t have a football game this past weekend, but they still made national headlines. Starting quarterback JT Barrett was suspended after being arrested on Saturday morning at a police checkpoint. Meyer talks about this and the impact on the team at his press conference today.

URBAN MEYER: Thanks for coming. Obviously didn’t have a game this weekend. Didn’t really review the record, so if there’s any questions about that, I’ll answer any questions for you.

Q. There was some confusion when you looked at the drug and alcohol policy on Saturday, at least I had a hard time reading it. Is it correct to read it that JT did not need to be suspended and you chose to suspend him?
URBAN MEYER: That’s correct. It counts as, I believe, as a positive and that would be his first, so there’s no punishment. The counseling, he has to do counseling and some other things through the university and that will be done.

Q. And so how did you arrive at the one game?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, unfortunately, I had one several years back and we did it for a game. I tried to collect as many facts as I can about what actually happened. I meet with the player, I meet with Gene Smith, obviously a very serious one, and then come to the conclusion that we had a one game.

He’s also forfeited his scholarship for a term. I have done that before. The last issue we had like this, it wasn’t quite as serious it was, like the Mewhort thing, and they lost their scholarship.

So when a kid has an issue like that he’s there’s some type of punitive damage as far as missing a game or something and then they forfeit their scholarship at some point. They can earn it back.

Q. The quarterbacks then, Cardale has been in this situation before to come in maybe a little bit unexpected as a backup. What’s different about maybe your confidence level in him for this start now that’s got 10 under his belt as opposed to Wisconsin?
URBAN MEYER: Night and day. Cardale had a great week of practice last week, he’s engaged, he handled everything like a man. He threw for 300 yards a couple weeks ago at a 75 percent clip. He’s 10-0 as a starter. That’s not even a hesitation.

Q. Do you have any type of policy when a player’s coming off suspension that he would not start his first game back or is that up in the air when JT comes back off suspension would he be eligible to start right away or do you have a policy where a player coming off suspension —
URBAN MEYER: No, no, if he’s good enough and if he’s earns that right, I haven’t even gone that far yet.

Q. Some of the wide receivers that are banged up, Parris Campbell, Dontre Wilson, Johnnie Dixon, do you think any of those guys will be able to help with the stretch run?
URBAN MEYER: Dontre had a procedure done to his foot. He’s questionable for this week. Paris Campbell is questionable, we’ll find out more today. Johnnie Dixon won’t play this week. He has a little micro fracture into his knee, right below his patella so it’s going to be a couple more weeks.

Q. Speaking specifically about quarterbacks, you have an opportunity here with Cardale to move back into that role, the red zone production was a concern for you; and obviously Maryland and Penn State, JT assumed that role, did a nice job for you. Is there anything about looking at ways to maybe involve Braxton in that role this week?
URBAN MEYER: We have had, we’re not there yet. It’s still early in the week so we’re having those conversations now.

Q. You talk about players peaking at the right time, all the time, your players do too. What do coaches do so that they are also at their best when they need to be in November and all season?
URBAN MEYER: That’s — I’ve never been asked that. That’s a great question. I’m not sure. Just what do coaches do to be, to peak at the right time? Wow. Bill? Thoughts?

(Laughter.)

That’s a great — Gene’s that’s a great question for the leadership class.

I think coaches are a product of — that’s a great question. That’s a product of knowing who your personnel is and the meshing like our offensive staff right now when you have transition of two coaches, the normalcy is it takes a minute and that minute has gone by and I’m really pleased with the conversations and the execution of what goes on during a game day. So that’s one way to make sure we’re on point.

Really, understanding personnel — I think coaches and we have all been there, including our staff, many times, where you don’t put them in position to do what they can do very well. And that’s when I see like our defensive staff, they’re doing a very good job of doing what guys can do well. Offensive staff, obviously there’s a new wrinkle now, we got a little issue that we’re going to spend a lot of time on with the guys said about the red zone so just getting guys in position to do the right thing. That they can do what they, what their skill set says they can do. And that takes an incredible amount of time because every player’s different.

Q. Michigan has been announced as a new kick off. Matter to you, do you like sticking with this tradition?
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, I grew up watching that and I don’t think — I’m fine and we’ll worry about this one right now, though.

Q. Number one, you were here in ’86 or ’87 when Earle Bruce had some situations he had to deal with and had to deal with immediately and stuff. As a coach, do you evolve into — you understand, nationally, you’ve gotten some criticism for what went down in Florida. You’ve addressed that in the past. But it seems like since you’ve been here you’ve been pretty, I don’t know if quick is the right word, but to execute the punishment, etcetera. Has there been an evolution with you in that regard or has it always been etched in stone of what happens, this happens, this happens?
URBAN MEYER: No, I think —

Q. I mean, obviously we were told that JT was not subject to a suspension based on the school rules.
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, I’ve, unfortunately, I’ve read some of the things said about our time down there and now’s not the time to — whether it’s exaggerated — I see these numbers show up that they just keep growing. But one is too many.

But we have been, if you do your homework and research, everybody’s been suspended, you know, either suspended — the one thing that I look back on, if I’ve given too many second chances to people and that my evaluation of that is I probably would continue to do it. Because the decisions aren’t made — public opinion, you don’t make decisions with people’s lives and livelihood.

We have tried to do the right thing and, here, I don’t see there just hasn’t, knock on wood, there hasn’t been many, and we act quickly. Gene’s been a tremendous help for me as what do you think, Gene, and it’s very clear conversation and let’s do the right thing.

When it’s a core value issue, then it’s really a tough situation. When it’s a horrible mistake or a mistake, then you try to put a, you know, some discipline, so that mistake’s not made again. But I seek advice from Gene and when I was at Florida, Jeremy and I think we have done fine.

Now’s not the time to go back, we’re moving forward and disappointed it happened, we did what we did, and we got to move forward.

Q. Does JT lose his captaincy?
URBAN MEYER: You know, I visited with some older players about that, my initial reaction was he might and let me just talk to some guys. But it was very strong with the leadership on the team to know. I’m still in my own mind going through that. And as of now, no.

Q. One other thing, Minnesota, obviously they lose Jerry Kill last week, they come within a half a yard, what do you expect from Minnesota on Saturday?
URBAN MEYER: I think that they played their best game. They were very inspired, they played tremendous in that game on both sides of the ball. Against a very good team. So, I think they’re an excellent team. They’re hitting their stride right now as well.

Q. We know every coach has to deal with off field stuff like this at times, how do you sort of view drunk driving in the things that happen with players, just the nature of that offense?
URBAN MEYER: Well, it’s horrible. Obviously, the first thing is to make sure no one’s hurt and find out exactly what happened.

We educate non-stop about domestic, about alcohol, about drugs. It’s out there. I’ve had to deal with it one or time, I believe, and it’s just something that — I go right to the administration, because I want to find out, make sure we’re doing it right by the university first and then team second. Because, obviously, that’s, there’s been some horrible things happens with drunk driving.

Q. How does this affect how you view JT Barrett?
URBAN MEYER: Tough. He came over to my house — and I love JT, I’m not ashamed to say that. He’s like a child. He’s like one of my favorite guys I’ve ever got to coach. JT’s going to have to deal with something that he’s never had to deal with.

When they say, you’re too short, you don’t run fast enough, your arm strength isn’t good enough, you’re just an average quarterback, you can deal with that. You just outwork it. It’s a little bit like when a coach, you’re not a good coach, okay we’re not a good coach. When they start attacking who you are, especially people who don’t know who you are, and I told him, that’s the toughest thing he’ll ever have to deal with is that now there’s some question as to who you are.

And I imagine he’s never had, he’s never had to deal with that. Because JT’s always been JT. And, yes, he may be a little too short, his arm strength maybe not that. He can deal with that. How do you deal with that? You work a little harder.

How do you deal with, what is he 20 years of doing right and 30 seconds of doing wrong — or three minutes, whatever it was. That’s real though. And that’s something he’s going to have to deal W I’m going to try to help him. We all are going to try to help him. Because that’s going to be a — that’s the toughest thing that he’ll have to deal with as far as protecting his name.

Q. Do you view it as guys make mistakes or does this maybe lead you to question his decision making?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, first is question his decision making. And then I want to find out exactly what happened. Monitor him very closely. Use it as an education opportunity for our players, too.

Q. You just kind of noted your message to JT. What was his message to you? When he walked in?
URBAN MEYER: Devastation — well he came to my house on whatever day that was the next day. Blown away. Devastated. All his concern was about the team. As you can imagine.

Ever since I’ve known JT all it is, is about the team. When we went through the quarterback stuff, about who is going to play quarterback, he said, coach, I’m fine, I just want to help this team. And he feels like he let the team down.

Q. Who you did you learn the news?
URBAN MEYER: Text message at about 6 a.m. on whatever day that was. I guess Saturday morning.

Q. How did you react?
URBAN MEYER: I told Shelley — I got up, I actually called the person who texted me and I said, did I read this right? And then went about the next six hours dealing with it.

Q. JT had the incident last year that was, nothing came of it. Does that come, the combination of that and this year make you, again, add to the?
URBAN MEYER: Yes, it does. I had chats with him about that last year and then this year and those chats won’t, will not discontinue. Also his family involvement understands that the starting quarterback at The Ohio State or a quarterback at Ohio State, but all of us here are held to standards, and decision making was brought up earlier.

Q. Did he have, did you ask him, did he give you any explanation for why he did what he did?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, sure. I’m not going to share that with you guys, but, yeah, he obviously, he didn’t think he was above the — he felt fine and — I will tell you that, he said it didn’t even think, cross my mind because I didn’t, I don’t drink much. And not, I’m not sure now’s the place to have that conversation, but, yeah, I said, why would you do this? And he said, coach, it didn’t even cross my mind, because I didn’t have that much and I was fine. And I was helping someone else out to give them a ride home.

Q. He left to give somebody else a ride home?
URBAN MEYER: Yes.

Q. And Cardale was the one who he was released to Cardale’s care, was Cardale with him at the time?
URBAN MEYER: No.

Q. So Cardale came and picked him up.
URBAN MEYER: Yes.

Q. You know more about the circumstances, does that speak to their friendship?
URBAN MEYER: Cardale and JT? Yeah, that’s obviously they’re very close.

Q. You mentioned that you haven’t had — the discussion you had about Braxton’s role, but, A, is he healthy enough to assume that role if you guys feel like you might need him, even if he’s a backup and who in your mind right now, if something were to happen to Cardale, is Braxton your guy at quarterback or do you go to one of the other guys?
URBAN MEYER: As of right now it would be Braxton. We’re right in the middle of those conversations. But there’s no question that he’s our, he’s our number two quarterback.

Q. So when he’s been involved in just the progression of learning the wide receiver position, would it be very hard for him to get back into the swing of things is he going to work out more after practice?
URBAN MEYER: I think almost every game he has a package of quarterback plays. As far as the mechanics of getting a play, we’re at home, too, which is good, getting a play to — it’s not just running around the end, it’s getting everybody lined up, getting the play, getting the formation and all that.

And that’s the thing when you try to say, hey, let Zeke do some direct snaps, that’s hard. You remember last year we did that to Jalin as well. Braxton it’s not. It’s no issue. It’s a just a matter of fact, he can throw, how prepared is he to throw. So we’re going to work on that this week as well and get him ready to go.