Ohio St. head coach Urban Meyer, still riding the high of a 59-0 win over a pathetic Wisconsin team, spoke to the national media yesterday to discuss the upcoming Suger Bowl game against Alabama.
At this time we’d like to introduce head coach Urban Meyer from Ohio State University. Coach Meyer, we’ll ask you to make a brief opening statement and then after that we’ll have questions.
COACH MEYER: We’re very honored to be a part of one of the great Bowl games, one of the most historic Bowl games in the history of college football.
I’ve had the opportunity to be there before, and so our players, I know, some of our players have been in the past, too. So we’re very honored to represent the Big ten Conference against a great team in Alabama.
Q. Just wanted ask you what you remember obviously some history between you and Nick with those two great SEC champions where one year you were 1 and they were 2 and vice versa. Do you remember those games well? What stands out to you about those games?
COACH MEYER: Probably I can’t remember my address or phone number but I could tell you probably every play in those games. The 2008 game was just one of the great games in college football history, in my opinion. Where evenly matched teams were going back and forth, back and forth. And obviously we got, scored right at the end to take a two?score lead.
The second year, that was one of the best teams I’ve ever coached against Alabama and they handled us pretty good. Ingram was a tailback and they dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides. So a lot of respect for Alabama and their coaching staff.
Q. Wondered if Chad Lindsay, is he still around the program? Is he still part of the day to day?
COACH MEYER: No, he’s given up football. He’s finishing up his schooling this semester or this month.
Q. A couple of quick ones. One, first part would be are you surprised that this has happened this quickly again, you facing off against Coach Saban, one of your teams against Coach Saban’s teams and the other thing I wanted to ask about a kid from our area Vonn Bell a sophomore has made good plays for you, if you could talk about his career to this point?
COACH MEYER: I’m not surprised. I think Ohio State’s an elite program, and obviously Alabama is as well. And we had?? I still think we’re in the building stages. Obviously a couple of years ago we took over a team that lost 7 games and kind of built it up. Lost some good players last year.
And this year we’re still a very young team. I wasn’t sure this year, I thought it might be next year that we would reach this, especially when we lost our quarterback. I knew at some point, if you’re going to reach for the top, that you have to go through the top. And the last several years Alabama has certainly been at the top of college football.
Q. I was just curious on how stressful the night was or the morning was in waiting to see whether you guys were going to get that 4 spot or not?
COACH MEYER: We got in at 4:00 in the morning. I dosed off for a minute and popped out of bed, couldn’t sleep. I went down and really started just working on schedules about?? I know this is a big?? we only have one week of recruiting and then we’re off. The recruiting calendar has changed so much you have to be so efficient and most of the programs were out recruiting last week, and we were not. We’re behind. I had my strength coach come over we started mapping out a calendar if we made it or didn’t make it.
And then our athletic director came over and we got to sit and watch it together. So it was very stressful. Not just waiting to see, but last week, I don’t know, maybe some people have done it in the past where they already work on those schedules. Our complete focus was on winning that last game. So that’s where more of the, I don’t know if stress is the right word, but just making sure?? because I’m going to be on the road recruiting most of this next week.
Q. You’ve been right there every single year that you’ve been at Ohio State. And it’s just a matter of time before you started applying for National Championships. But your first year when you went undefeated, you had a tight game with UAB. Would you imagine that they just all of a sudden cancel their football program?
COACH MEYER: I actually saw the special they did, three? or four?minute special on Game Day. My opinion probably doesn’t matter because I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I understand the value of athletics, the value of football, in particular. My son plays it. And I’m very glad that he does because of what it teaches.
So anytime you see that happen, you just?? you feel sorry. To answer your question, I was surprised because I know UAB has been around for a long time and they’ve had some great teams in the past.
Q. Wanted to ask you about Vonn Bell. If you could talk about him. I know he picked you guys over Alabama, getting a kid from our area, what he’s meant to the program and how he’s progressed?
COACH MEYER: He’s having a pretty good year. He’s our starting safety. Came in last year. Was very instrumental on special teams. I probably should have pushed harder as far as getting him in the game a little more as a freshman. But he’s a very talented guy, highly recruited guy like you said, that could have really went anywhere and to go down to the south and?? I know with Tennessee and Alabama and he grew up a Vols fan. So he’s a big part of who we are.
Q. Just your personal relationship with Nick Saban, what’s it like, how would you describe that?
COACH MEYER: It’s good. We always used to sit next to each other in the SEC meetings. We’ve actually known each other a long time. It’s very good. We worked together on the agents and those type of things in the past. And so very good relationship.
Q. When you and Nick are both at the top of the profession like that, when you’re in those situations, do you talk shop? Do you talk about running a program or what it takes? Do you think there are any similarities in how you guys go about running a top tier program?
COACH MEYER: We haven’t really spoke that much about that. The one thing I think both of us?? I don’t think?? I know we both committed our entirely livelihood to college football and believe in players. The players are the most important part of this whole institution of college football. So we’ve had many, many conversations about how to make sure we keep the game or do the best we can to make sure the game stays what it is and I just remember we went after this whole?? both our programs are dealing with non?stop agents attacking your players. And he felt fairly strongly about it. So did I.
That’s one of the few times I think we were both involved. We were on another committee or conversation about the whole payment of players and all that. So ours is more about the conversation about the good of college football.