“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”
Sound familiar? This is a quote given by the great Wayne Woodrow Hayes, or Woody Hayes as he would come to be known. Hayes has become a legend in Ohio State culture and community, and is the shining light on a football program that has seen its dimmer days since his departure.
A lot of people are criticizing Urban Meyer for his “deer in the headlights” sort of outlook. Meyer has stated he has made an effort not to look at footage, but to start everyone on a clean slate. Make the player fight for what they want, and strive to get it in the only logical way – proof.
The coaching staff at Ohio State caught onto this trend as well, and while for some coaches returning this may be a bit difficult, they – like me – see the logic behind the madness.
Urban Meyer has been scolded by his critics as a “program-dictator” and “machine-maker”. This is clearly evident and supported by his 104-23 record (.819 winning percentage) as a Div-1 head coach. He also carries two National Championships under his belt, including one heart-wrenching win against Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship game.
I was at that game, and I won’t get in to details about the whole ordeal. What I do recall is sitting four rows up from the end zone, on the home side (which was Florida) and seeing the Florida players storm onto the field. It was like watching sixty Terminators storm the field, ready to invade. Their muscles shining in the spotlights, almost blinding me as they laid Ohio State on the floor, defeating them 41-14.
I’m not here to recollect the horror that was the 2007 National Championship game. What I am here to do is make a point. The point is, he did in fact turn the University of Florida football players into a ton of war soldiers, wanting only to win. And sure enough, they did. So why are Ohio State fans so worried?
To me, it seems like a lot of Buckeyes are worried that Meyer will, once again, transform our team into a bunch of mindless, hungry, and vicious beasts, ready to do just one thing – win.
“I was very disappointed in some body types that were here,” Urban Meyer stated about the physical makeup of the Ohio State football team, “and a lot of those bodies have changed.”
That worried me a bit. Maybe those reporters and fans were right. Maybe he is turning them into machines.
“I’m not interested in a bunch of group hugs or team meetings,” stated Meyer, “I really want to see these guys lead by not losing. You want to be a great leader? Go win.”
Okay. Wow, starting to get a bit worried here. But then, in my last attempt for hope, Meyer said something that almost brought me to tears.
“Everybody should have an opportunity to have a second chance. I don’t want to develop an opinion on any players’ ability based on last year’s film. And I told the coaches, especially the guys retained from last year, that everyone starts this season with a clean slate.”
I want you to go back to the beginning of the article and read the quote said by the honorable Woody Hayes. It – to me – has an eerie similarity.
To be honest, I do see a glimmer of Woody Hayes in Urban Meyer. Jim Tressel certainly had one, but his flame was that of a scented candle, brining a swarm of peace and comfort to the Buckeye Nation. Urban Meyer is more like a Mosquito Repellant Candle – it has a bit more casualties across the way, but all for a good purpose.
I wouldn’t lose sleep over the thought of Urban Meyer turning our Buckeye Bullets into a set of ripped winning machines (though it sounds kind of awesome). Meyer is from Ohio, grew up in Ohio, went to Ohio schools, and even coached at Ohio State before beginning his journey to stardom. He understands us. He understands the feeling we get when we see Ohio State lose to TSUN. He gets it. However, he couldn’t relate to that level at Utah or The University of Florida. That is why I think he – if in fact true – turned his players into “machines” at the University of Florida. Look, it made him ill for goodness sake!
At Ohio State he has a winning combination. He has the desire to win, and the understanding of his duties – to make the state of Ohio proud.
Trust me folks – he’s not going to let us down.
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