Born: July 10, 1964
Hometown: Ashtabula, Ohio
High School: St. John
Alma Mater: Cincinnati, 1986
Master's Degree: Ohio State, 1988
Year in Coaching: 26th (First year at Ohio State)
Children: Daughters, Nicole and Gigi, and son, Nathan
Sometime during the morning of November 28, 2011, Ohio native Urban Meyer returned home. It was at that time when the 47-year-old Meyer, born in Toledo, raised in Ashtabula and with degrees from the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University, signed a six-year agreement to become the 24th head coach in the storied history of Ohio State football.
The only candidate interviewed by a five-member search committee of senior Ohio State leaders, headed by President E. Gordon Gee and Director of Athletics Gene Smith, Meyer returns to collegiate coaching after sitting out the past year to devote time to his family - wife Shelley, college-age daughters Nicole and Gisele and 13-year-old son Nathan - and to work as an analyst for ESPN.
"In Urban Meyer we have found an exemplary person and remarkable coach to lead the University's football program into the future," Gee said. "As an alumnus, he understands and believes in the core academic mission of the University. As an Ohioan, he shares our common values and sense of purpose."
Smith said that Meyer is "known not only as one of the nation's most successful coaches, but also as a leader and mentor who cares deeply about the young men who are his student-athletes. He brings with him an understanding of the University - both the important traditions of its football program and the excellence of the institution."
It's easy to see why he was the No. 1 choice of the search committee.
Through 10 full seasons as a head coach, Meyer has the tenth-best winning percentage in major college football history with a winning rate of .814 (104-23). He will leap all the way to No. 2 among current major college coaches with that percentage, trailing only the .926 percentage owned by Boise State's Chris Peterson.
Meyer has already won two national championships - in 2006 and 2008 with the University of Florida - and no less than three national coach of the year honors, including The Sporting News honor in 2003 and the Eddie Robinson and Home Depot Coach of the Year awards, respectively, in 2004.
Meyer has not only won big at each of his three previous head coaching positions, but he has won immediately. He led Bowling Green to the best turnaround season in the nation in 2001 with an 8-3 record and he went 9-3 in Year 2. He was 22-2 in two seasons at Utah, including a 16-game winning streak and a 12-0 campaign in 2004 when he led the first-ever non-Bowl Championship Season program into a BCS game.
He was 65-15 in his six seasons at Florida with the two national titles, two Southeastern Conference championships and three 13-win seasons, including consecutive 13-win seasons in 2008 and 2009 to become the first coach ever to accomplish that feat.
And now he brings his coaching talents home to Ohio, the state where he has lived for 25 of his 47 years and where he met his wife, the former Shelley Mather, who grew up in Frankfort, Ohio.
"I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to return to Ohio State," said Meyer. "This University and the state of Ohio have enormous meaning to me. My duty is to ensure that Ohio State's football program reflects and enhances the academic mission of the institution. I am part of it, I believe in it, and I will live it."
It all Started In Ohio After graduating from Saint John High School in Ashtabula, Meyer was a 13th-round MLB draft pick of the Atlanta Braves and spent two years in minor league baseball. He matriculated to Cincinnati and played defensive back for the football program, graduating in 1986 with his bachelor's degree in psychology.
Meyer's first football coaching experience was as an intern at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati in 1986. The following year, he joined Coach Earle Bruce's staff at Ohio State and spent two years as a graduate assistant - coaching tight ends in 1986 and receivers in 1987 - while pursuing his master's degree in sports administration.
It was during his time as a Buckeye - Ohio State won a Big Ten title in 1986 and 1987 was Bruce's final season as coach - that he forged a relationship with Bruce that has only been strengthened through the tests of time and change.
"My relationship with him [Earle] is extremely close, second only to my father," Meyer said during the news conference to announce his hiring at Ohio State...17 days after his father, Bud, passed away.
"Every step of my career, every part of my family life, Coach Bruce has always been there. So close that he was gracious enough to speak at my father's funeral just last Friday."
Meyer, as every young coach who aspires to be a head coach and who thirsts for knowledge, then moved on to a series of assistant coaching positions - Illinois State for two years under Jim Heacock, Colorado State for six years under Sonny Lubick and Bruce, and Notre Dame for one year under Lou Holtz and five years under Bob Davie - before getting his first head coaching assignment at Bowling Green.
First Year: Coach of the Year
Taking over a team that was 2-9 in 2000 and that had not had a winning season seven years, Meyer guided the Falcons to the top turnaround in the nation in 2001 with a six-win improvement and an 8-3 record that included wins over Missouri, Northwestern and BGSU's rival to its north, Toledo. He was named Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year.
He followed that first year with a 9-3 record in his second year with the Falcons, including another win over Missouri. After BG opened the season with eight consecutive wins, the program cracked both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Top 25 polls for the first time in school history, peaking with an all-time school best No. 16 national ranking by ESPN/USA Today.
Meyer's BGSU teams were anything but one-dimensional. His 2002 team led the nation in red zone production with 61 scores in 63 trips inside the 20 (.968) and were ninth in total offense (448.9 yards per game). Defensively, his 2001 team ranked first in the MAC in scoring, rushing and total defense and his teams led the MAC both years in turnover margin.
Josh Harris, who became a starter at quarterback in the ninth game of the 2001 season and reeled off 11 consecutive wins as a starter, told Plain Dealer reporter Elton Alexander that his former coach simply made players believe they were as good as any other team.
"One thing for sure, when coach Meyer believes in a guy, he might even believe in him more than the guy believes in himself," Harris said. "There was a time when I had to get my belief in Josh Harris up to where Urban Meyer believed that Josh Harris was. That really propelled me, and my game, to new levels.
"That's one of the things he did for me that I will always be thankful for."
The Move Out West Meyer moved on the University of Utah following the 2002 season and in two seasons led the Utes to a 22-2 record. He was named national Coach of the Year in 2003 by The Sporting News and in 2004 he was named the Football Writers Association of America's Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year and the Home Depot Coach of the Year.
In his first season in Salt Lake City, Meyer coached the Utes to their first outright conference championship since 1957, a 17-0 Liberty Bowl win over Southern Mississippi, and a final national ranking of No. 21. In addition to his national coach of the year honor by The Sporting News, Meyer was named Mountain West Conference coach of the year and thus became the first coach in Utah's 111-year football history to earn such an honor in his first year.
Utah then enjoyed the finest season in program history in 2004. The 12-0 record was the first 12-0 season in 75 years and a second-consecutive outright MWC championship was the first in conference history.
The Utah offense was unstoppable, finishing in the Top 5 in six categories, including No. 3 in scoring (45.3), total offense (499.7) and turnover margin (1.25). The team also led the MWC in 11 statistical categories and was No. 2 in passing, scoring and total defense.
Following Utah's 16th consecutive win, a 35-7 pummeling of Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl, Meyer's record was a sterling 39-7 as a head coach and the University of Florida was in need of a coach.
Simply Great in Gainesville "Urban's accomplishments speak for themselves," Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley said. And this was before Meyer had even begun to blow his previous coaching accomplishments out of the water with the even-greater success he would experience coaching the Gators.
Meyer coached Florida to a 9-3 record in his initial season, a record that included wins over four nationally ranked opponents, making Meyer the first first-year coach in UF history to accomplish the feat.
Meyer's Year 2 success - he was a combined 21-3 in his second season at Bowling Green and Utah - continued in Gainesville as he led the Gators to a school-record 13 wins, and SEC and national championships against the toughest schedule in the nation. Florida played six ranked teams and 11 of its opponents went to bowl games. The BCS Championship game win: 41-14 over No. 1 ranked Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. Meyer was named national Coach of the Year by the All-American Foundation at the conclusion of the season.
The 2007 Gator team went 9-3 and featured a Heisman Trophy-winning Tim Tebow and ranked third nationally with an average of 42.5 points per game.
Consecutive 13-win seasons followed in 2008 and 2009, a first in major college history. The 2008 team was the most prolific offensive unit in SEC history with 611 points scored against the nation's second-toughest schedule. Meyer won a second national championship this season, with Florida defeating Oklahoma, 24-14, in the BCS Championship game in Miami, Fla.
The only blemish on an otherwise spectacular 13-1 2009 season was to eventual national champion Alabama in the SEC championship game. This team's senior class departed with the best record for a class in SEC history: 48-7.
Meyer, who took a brief leave of absence from coaching following the 2009 season, coached his last Florida team to an 8-5 record. His last game as Florida coach was 37-24 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl, in Tampa, Fla.
Back Home to Ohio On Wednesday, Nov. 23, Ohio State Director of Athletics Gene Smith first talked to Meyer about returning to coaching after spending the year in an ESPN analyst booth. On Sunday, Nov. 27, Smith presented Meyer with terms for a six-year contract. Less than 24 hours later Meyer was a Buckeye.
And the rest of this story is future history.
More Notes on Urban Meyer:
Only two coaches have had more victories in their first 10 years as a head coach than Meyer's 104: George Woodruff (124 between 1892-1901 at Pennsylvania) and Bob Stoops (109 between 1999-2008). Note: records include at least five years as a Division I coach.
Meyer has won 13 games three times during his career, including back-to-back in 2008 and 2009 to become the first BCS coach to ever accomplish that feat.
His teams are 21-3 in "rivalry games." Bowling Green was 1-1 vs. Toledo; Utah was 4-0 vs. Utah State and BYU; and Florida was 16-2 vs. Florida State, Tennessee and Georgia.
His teams are also 60-18 in conference play with four championships (two apiece at Utah and Florida). They are also 2-1 in SEC title games, 7-1 in bowl games and 4-0 in BCS bowl games.
Meyer has coached his teams to winning streaks of 11 games (Bowling Green), 20 games (16 at Utah and four at Florida), 11 games (Florida) and 22 games (Florida).
His teams have 14 wins by 40-or-more points and another 20 wins by at least 30 points for a total of 34 routs.
Meyer's teams are 2-2 vs. the No. 1 team in the nation, 7-3 vs. Top 5 teams, 11-4 vs. Top 10 teams and 19-7 vs. Top 25 teams.
Both the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated named Meyer "Coach of the Decade" in December 2009.
So far, 30 of his former Florida Gator players have been chosen in the NFL Draft, including more first-round selections - eight - than any other school has produced in the last five years.
Meyer has watched a total of 36 players that he coached for at least two years get selected in the NFL Draft, including nine first-round draft picks.
Of those 36 NFL Draft picks, three were quarterbacks: Bowling Green's Josh Harris was a sixth-round selection by Baltimore in the 2004 NFL Draft and Utah's Alex Smith (San Francisco, 2005) and Florida's Tim Tebow (Denver, 2010) were each No. 1 draft picks with Smith the overall No. 1 pick.
In addition to Smith and Tebow, Meyer's first-round draft picks include offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh, 2010) and Mike Pouncey (Miami, 2011); defensive linemen Jarvis Moss (Denver, 2007) and Derrick Harvey (Jacksonville, 2008); defensive backs Reggie Nelson (Jacksonville, 2007) and Joe Haden (Cleveland, 2010); and wide receiver/running back Percy Harvin (Minnesota, 2009).
With the exception of kickers, Meyer has had multiple players at every position drafted into the NFL, including a position-best 10 defensive linemen, seven wide receivers, six defensive backs and five offensive linemen.
Six of Meyer's former assistant coaches are head coaches: Steve Addazio (Temple); Tim Beckman (Illinois); John "Doc Holliday (Marshall); Dan McCarney (North Texas); Dan Mullen (Mississippi State) and Charlie Strong (Louisville).
Nine of his former assistant coaches are offensive (OC) defensive (DC), passing game (PG) or run game (RG) coordinators: Zach Azzanni (OC at Western Kentucky); Vance Bedford (DC at Louisville); Gregg Brandon (OC at Wyoming); Billy Gonzales (PG at LSU); Chuck Heater (DC at Temple); John Hevesy (RG at Mississippi State); Scott Loeffler (OC at Temple); Greg Mattison (DC at Michigan) and Greg Studrawa (OC at LSU).
Urban Meyer has a plan to win. And the plan works! Ohio State coach is second-winningest active coach with .819 winning percentage
One of only two active collegiate coaches with multiple BCS national championships and one of only 13 coaches in the last 50 years to win multiple national championships, Meyer's plan includes four tenets: play great defense; score in the red zone; dominate turnovers; and win the kicking game. His teams have succeeded in each of those competencies.
Play Great Defense
Meyer's 10 previous teams have led a conference in a key defensive category 12 times and have had a national Top 10 rushing defense four times. And in his six seasons at Florida, his teams ranked second in the Southeastern Conference with a cumulative, six-year average of 100.9 rushing yards per game allowed, a key defensive stat that ranked sixth nationally.
Fewest Rushing Yards Per Game Allowed (2005-2010)
1. TCU - 82.9
2. Boston College - 91.7
3. Ohio State - 92.2
4. Texas - 96.1
5. Alabama - 100.4
6. Florida - 100.9
Meyer's teams have also had national Top 10 defensive statistics 16 times, including five times in the Top 10 in total defense.
Score in the Red Zone
From the 2007 season through the 2010 season, Meyer's Florida Gators had the best touchdown percentage in the red zone in the SEC: 66 percent (265 chances; 175 touchdowns). His teams score touchdowns...a lot. Four times they have led a conference in scoring and five times they ranked in the Top 10 nationally.
In his six years at Florida, Meyer's teams committed only 108 turnovers, a total that ranked fourth in the nation for fewest committed. Four times - twice at Florida and once at Utah and Bowling Green, respectively - Meyer had a team in the Top 5 nationally in turnover margin. Meyer enters the 2012 season with a career team turnover ratio of plus-112.
Besides committing so few turnovers, a big reason for Meyer teams' impressive turnover ratio is interceptions: his teams have ranked second in the nation with 116 interceptions between 2005-10.
Turnovers Committed (2005-10)
1. Alabama - 97
2. Air Force - 102
3. Ohio State - 107
4. Florida - 108
Navy - 108
Most Passes Intercepted (2005-10)
1. Boston College - 118
2. Florida - 116
3. Virginia Tech - 112
4. Boise State - 109
5. Oregon - 109
Win the Kicking Game
Meyer's teams consistently win the kicking game. Three of his Florida teams led the SEC in net punting and five of six were in the Top 10 nationally (with a sixth team 12th). Four of his teams - two at Florida and two at Utah - led a conference in kickoff returns, with his 2003 Utah team the NCAA's best with a 28.2-yard average.
Two more impressive statistics (and special thanks to the University of Florida sports information department for these) contribute to Meyer teams winning the kicking game: his six Florida teams blocked a total of 32 kicks (21 punts, eight field goals and three extra points), never failing to block multiple punts in a season and blocking multiple field goals in five of six seasons; and Florida led the nation over Meyer's tenure by allowing just 361 cumulative punt return yards.
Two cool stats: Florida was 16-0 in games its special teams blocked a punt. And the Gators did not allow a punt return yard in 25 of Meyer's last 33 games.
And where has Meyer's plan to win positioned him? For starters, he is the second-winningest active collegiate coach with an .819 winning percentage, a figure that is 10th-best all-time among major college coaches.
Since 1945, only the legendary Bud Wilkinson has reached 100 wins faster than Meyer, who won his 100th game in his 118th game as coach on Sept. 25, 2010. All-time, he is sixth-fastest to reach 100 wins.
Fastest to 100 Wins
1. Gil Dobie - 108 games
2. George Woodruff - 109 games
3. Bud Wilkinson - 111 games
4. Fielding Yost - 114 games
5. Knute Rockne - 117 games
6. Urban Meyer - 118 games
Meyer was chosen by two - Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News - as the Coach of the Decade (2000-09) and he has earned three national Coach of the Year honors (by The Sporting News in 2003 and the Eddie Robinson and Home Depot Coach of the Year honors in 2004).
Meyer's teams have ruled rivalry games and dominated within the conference. His rivalry game record is 21-3 as Bowling Green was 1-1 vs. Toledo, Utah was 2-0 vs. both BYU and Utah State, and Florida was 16-2 vs. Tennessee (6-0), Georgia (5-1) and Florida State (5-1).
Bowling Green, Utah and Florida were a combined 60-18 in conference games with four conference championships. Meyer's teams are 7-1 in bowl games, including 4-0 in BCS bowl games. His teams are 19-7 vs. the national Top 25, including 11-4 vs. Top 10 teams, 7-3 vs. Top 5 teams and 2-2 vs. the No. 1 team in the nation.
More Winning Numbers
Meyer has won 13 games three times during his career, including back-to-back in 2008 and 2009 to become the first and only BCS coach to accomplish the feat.
Only one other coach in college football history in fact, according to Wikipidea, has ever won at least 13 games in back-to-back seasons: Walter Camp. Yale. 1891 and 1892.
Meyer teams have had winning streaks of 11 games (Bowling Green), 20 games (16 at Utah and four at Florida), 11 games (Florida) and 22 games (Florida).
His teams have 14 wins by 40-or-more points and another 20 wins by at least 30 points for a total of 34 routs.
For 88 consecutive weeks, from Week 1 in 2005 to Week 7 in 2010, Meyer's teams were ranked in the Top 25 and for 27 consecutive weeks, between 2008-10, his teams were ranked among the nation's Top 5 teams.
Including Bowling Green and Utah totals, Meyer's teams blocked 51 kicks between 2001-10. Only Texas (60) and Fresno State (58) blocked more.
Meyer's teams have scored first in 81 of his 127 games and they are 76-5 in those games, including a 49-2 record at Florida. Utah was 18-1 and Bowling Green was 9-2.