With Urban Meyer announcing his retirement and his sixth-ranked Buckeyes set to face the ninth-ranked Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, the 54-year-old Toledo, Ohio native leaves big shoes to fill for incoming new Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day down in Columbus.
One of both the most successful—and polarizing—head coaches in modern sports history, Meyer is either considered on of the greatest coaches not named Nick Saban to walk a college sideline, or the second coming of He Who Shall Not Be Named in being much maligned, feared and hated.
Not many coaches can win three national titles at two different programs and be so hated and loved by such a wide range of fans. That is the complicated and mixed legacy that Meyer will leave at his grad school alma mater, as this past season was one marked with controversy following the fallout of former wide receivers coach Zach Smith’s domestic violence case and his failure to properly report it to administrators.
While his sudden retirement may come as a shock to some outside of Buckeye Nation, if one watched and followed the Buckeyes this season, you could just see that something was just..off with Meyer on the sidelines this season. Back hunched over, squatting over, looking both emotionally and physically exhausted.
There was something going on behind the scenes at Ohio State.
Some can call it the price of being head coach of one of college football’s most visible brands, and the constant wear-and-tear of recruiting along with trying to compete for national titles vs. long time rivals such as Saban—and most recently in Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney—but with an already noted history of headaches, chest pains and other physical ailments such as the cysts in his brain, perhaps it was the right time to step down and let Day—who led Ohio State to a perfect 3-0 record, during his three-game suspension—to take the helm.
The body language and whispers were clues to what will be the end of the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State.
How will it be remembered? Will it be the perfect season his first year on probation?
Will it be the improbable 2014 title run? Big wins over Alabama, TCU, Oregon, USC, Oklahoma and Notre Dame? His perfect 7-0 record vs. That Team Up North, or for the off field issues with players under his watch, cut-throat recruiting, win-at-all-costs mentality that brought penalties down in Gainesville and inexplicable losses to unranked teams such as Iowa and Purdue?
As fiery, competitive and ruthless as he was on the field and in recruiting, there is no in-between with Meyer, you either like him or hate him. Surely, he’d have it no other way.
Author Bio: Founder, Publisher and CEO of the two-time award-winning digital lifestyle magazine, INSCMagazine that was recently named “Best Blogs To Follow” and “Best Blogging Sites” by BlogFrog.com, Robert D. Cobb has had works featured on ESPN, FOX Sports, Yahoo! and The Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC and on Instagram at @robcobb_insc