13 February 2012
Just three short months ago Urban Meyer signed on to run the football program at The Ohio State University after eleven months away from the game, but his decision to come aboard wasn't made without deep thought and reservation. The health issues that ultimately saw him resign his position at the University of Florida two years ago were first and foremost on his mind, and the mind of his family.
Coach Meyer's oldest daughter Nicki, a volleyball player at Georgia Tech, drew up a "contract" of sorts on a pink piece of paper, the same paper that he pulled out of his suit jacket during his introductory press conference at OSU, that the family then presented to Urban before they would give him their blessing to jump back into coaching with the Buckeyes. After a family meeting and a few promises made, Urban Meyer became Ohio State's 24th head football coach, a job that he has dreamed of for decades.
For those of us who bleed Scarlet and Gray, Urban Meyer is a rock star of sorts, but to others he's just "dad." This week we had the pleasure to talk to the very person who wrote up that contract for Coach Meyer - his daughter Nicki Meyer.
BHC: What Coach Meyer and your family went through at the end of his University of Florida career has been very well documented. Did you think he would eventually get back into coaching, and (if so) were you surprised that it was a short one year later?
Nicki: We all knew that no matter what he did it would involve football. We saw him in his year off and you could tell something was missing. He loved the ESPN crew and everything they did for him and the overall experience was great, but coaching is in his blood and you could see in his eyes he missed it. So during that year I figured he would be back sooner than I originally thought.
BHC: You don't really have the personal ties and history to Ohio quite like your dad does. What were your feelings about him taking the Ohio State job specifically, as opposed to another?
Nicki: When he first brought it up to us I was skeptical because I enjoyed seeing him so much the year he took off. But when he told me it had been his dream since he was a kid, who was I to tell him I didn't approve? This was the only job he would have taken this soon, so thats when I knew the meaning of it, and that made me okay with it.
BHC: With you playing volleyball at Georgia Tech, and the college football/volleyball schedules coinciding, will you try to make it to any Ohio State games before you graduate?
Nicki: I'll be at the Michigan game. I always have that last weekend off and I'm excited to see what this rivalry is all about. I've heard its absolutely crazy.
BHC: For those of us who eat, drink and sleep Ohio State sports Coach Meyer is nothing short of a rock star. For you, he's just "dad." What is it like knowing so many eyes, and opinions, follow every move he makes?
Nicki: Its funny to me because he is so normal and fun when he is with us. He is not that intimidating coach everyone sees on TV. He is a great role model to look up to because of his status and how he got there. The opinions are hard to swallow sometimes, especially when they are negative and I know that they are flat out wrong. Its hard to hold my tongue sometimes. I am very protective of my dad.
BHC: Do you keep tabs online of all the news, critiques and opinions or do you try to go about your business and just get whatever updates he might give you?
Nicki: I try not to look at that stuff. I know the majority of it is false and people trying to get attention. I would get in serious trouble if I actually read a lot of it. Like I said earlier, I would go to war for him.
BHC: With your busy schedule and his busy schedule, how often do you get to talk?
Nicki: We actually talk like 10 times a day. Thank God for text messaging, becuase our schedules clash, but we talk on the phone in the morning and at night. We text throughout the day and we use voice messaging a lot too. We always know what each other is doing.
BHC: We all know that you can't take the desire to coach out of someone who does it for a living. When it comes to your volleyball career does your dad try to remain a father and fan, or do you ever catch him in coach-mode when you guys talk?
Nicki: He is a father and a fan. Luckily he doesn't know much about volleyball so he always thinks I play great! He just wants me to know he is proud of me. He's good about leaving the coaching up to my own coaches.
BHC: Alright, the contract. I'm very close to my parents as well, so I know exactly where you were coming from with it. We've heard a number of different things that may have been on it, but you're actually the one who wrote it up. What all did you include?
Nicki: Its funny because I was sitting in class one day and did it to be silly. But I was so happy to see that he took it so seriously. It included things about eating at least three meals a day, being healthy and exercising, speaking to me as often as I am used to, keeping the lake house we have in Florida, sleeping with his cell phone on silent, maintaining a healthy weight, limited hours of a workday (this is the one that was tough), taking me on a yearly trip as we usually do, and coming to watch my sister and I play. Those were the major ones I can remember. He has complied so far. :)
BHC: He now has the contract hanging in his office at Ohio State so we know exactly how much that meant to him, but we've heard conflicting stories on whether he actually signed it or not. Can you clear that one up for us?
Nicki: He did. I got it framed for him for Christmas and it is hanging directly above his desk. He absolutely signed it.
BHC: He gets a 10 out of 10 from Ohio State fans thus far with regards to football, but on a scale of 1-10 how would you rate his performance his first three months in charge at Ohio State with regards to your contract?
Nicki: He gets a 10/10. We haven't had any broken rules so far. He is taking my contract very seriously (he knows it comes before all others).
BHC: Have you gotten the full effect of the rabid Ohio State fan base yet, or have we pretty much left you alone thus far?
Nicki: I haven't experienced anything but positive love and support from them. It is very welcoming and makes me feel really happy to be a part of such a great fan base.
BHC: Obviously you're a Ramblin' Wreck fan, and were (maybe still are?) a Gators fan. So who did you root for in the Gator Bowl - Ohio State or Florida!?
Nicki: That was really hard for me. I have a lot of friends on that football team, so I wanted them to all do well individually. But overall I didn't care who won. I was still in the transition to becoming a Buckeye, and the Gators will always be very close to my heart. I just wanted to see a good football game.
BHC: We've already assumed your dad will bring us one National Championship back to Columbus. So what's your take --- 0 or 1 --- 2 or more --- or nowhere near your priority list?
Nicki: I haven't even thought that far ahead yet. I know how hard he works, and National Championships is what he does. I just want him to be successful, and stay healthy doing it.
BHC: You going to beat Clemson this year?????
Nicki: WE BETTER. Its my last go around. So that is a huge game that we better get.
BHC: Alright, have to do word association with you. Usually we would ask for one-word responses, but you have the freedom to respond to each however you see fit >
Shelley Meyer | My role model. I want to be exactly like her when I am a mom.
Gigi Meyer | Funniest person Ive ever met. Tough. My other half.
Nate Meyer | Sweetest little brother.
Michigan | Hmmm...... I'll decide how I feel about them this fall. :)
Bret Bielema | I have only heard his name once, and that's when he referred to my father as a cheater and used the word illegal. That upset me.
Urban Meyer | My best friend in the entire world.
Editor's Note: I want to personally thank Nicki for taking the time to work with me on this piece. She was a great sport from start to finish and it's obvious just how important her father is to her. We want to personally wish her luck for her senior season at Georgia Tech and welcome her to the Buckeye family. Her dad has knocked it out of the park in Columbus and, thankfully, it sounds like he has found that balance he was looking for. We should definitely all thank Nicki and the Meyer family for sharing him with us.
Follow Nicki on Twitter > @Nicki_07
Follow us on Twitter > @OSUHouseCall