"We're going to build a program here with men that you'll be proud of on the field, in the classroom, and in the Bowling Green community."
In November of 2000 Bowling Green State University handed over the keys to their 2-9 football team to a 36 year old Notre Dame wide receivers coach named Urban Meyer. Quite a leap of faith for a struggling program who hadn't seen a winning record in six seasons, but Meyer would prove them wise and he didn't waste any time doing it.
Just two short weeks after taking the job, Meyer called all of his new players to the on-campus fieldhouse for a 6 A.M. meeting, one in which they were told that if you didn't show up to not bother to ever come back. It would be known simply as "Black Wednesday."
Reports had Meyer carrying a binder with him at all times that he used to keep track of who missed classes or study tables. Those that made the list were put through running drills like no other. From former BGSU running back John Gibson:
"Coach locked the doors, brought out the trash cans for those who had to vomit...and there were plenty, and set the tone for what he would be looking for from us, which was accountability."
When "Black Wednesday" and all of the dust settled from the running drills, approximately 25-30 players or more had left the program. If accountability wasn't your thing, Urban Meyer wasn't your guy. Now with a depleted roster, allbeit the one Meyer preferred, the 2-9 Falcons from a season ago would become the 8-3 Falcons of 2001. It wasn't good enough for a MAC Championship or even a bowl invite, but those eight wins included victories over the BCS's Missouri Tigers and Northwestern Wildcats. Those may not sound "epic" to most, but coming off a season that saw Bowling Green win just 18% of their outings, those two victories meant everything to a program moving in the right direction.
A year later, with his spread offense now engrained into the minds and bodies of his roster, Bowling Green started 8-0 en route to a 9-2 season that saw them beat the likes of Missouri (again) and Kansas.
Meyer only stayed with the Falcons for those two seasons, but those 21 games set the tone for a decade of greatness. We've stretched back eleven years and brought you back to the present day with Urban Meyer - A Decade of Leadership in Pictures. Enjoy.
Urban Meyer goes from wide receivers coach at Notre Dame to his first head coaching position, choosing Bowling Green State University as the first stop of his head coach career. He wouldn't disappoint.
September 1st, 2001
Meyer makes his debut on the Bowling Green sideline at Faurot Field in Columbia, MO - defeating the Big XII's Missouri Tigers 20-13 - the first of three straight wins to begin his head coaching career.
Meyer would finish his two seasons at Bowling Green with 17 wins against just 7 losses before heading west to Salt Lake City.
Urban Meyer took over the head coaching position at the University of Utah, staying in Salt Lake City for two seasons and leading the Utes to 22 wins in 24 tries - including an undefeated 12-0 season in 2004. In his first season with Utah he would earn Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year honors as well as being named National Coach of the Year by The Sporting News.
He's pictured here in an undated photo with wife, Shelley, and youngest daughter Gigi, who now plays volleyball for Florida Golf Coast.
November 20th, 2004
Meyer and the Utes close out 2004 with an undefeated 11-0 regular season by beating rival Brigham Young University 52-21, punching their ticket to the BCS Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, AZ. (Trent Nelson/Salt Lake Tribune)
January 1st, 2005
Urban Meyer is victorious in his first BCS appearance, beating Pitt in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl 35-7. It would prove to be his last game at the helm of the Utah program, but it wouldn't be his last, or biggest, BCS celebration. Not by far.
January 1st, 2005
Meyer embracing then-Utah quarterback and current San Francisco 49er Alex Smith after the Fiesta Bowl win over the Panthers.
In 2005 Urban Meyer chose the University of Florida over Notre Dame University and would take over in Gainesville for Ron Zook as the Gators' head coach. He would remain in Gainesville for six seasons, racking up five bowl wins in six tries including two national championships. He closed out his Florida tenure after the 2010 season, finishing with a 65-15 overall record.
September 3rd, 2005
Urban Meyer makes his debut at Florida, but first he must debut in the Gator Walk, touching the gator statue for good luck. He didn't need much of it as the Gators beat Wyoming that day 32-14. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
January 8th, 2007
Meyer leads his Gators into the National Championship Game to face undefeated, top-ranked Ohio State. Florida would knock off the Buckeyes 41-14, claiming his first of two national titles during his stay with the Gators.
November 1st, 2008
Urban Meyer knows rivalries. After Georgia head coach Mark Richt sent his entire roster on the field to celebrate the first touchdown of their 2007 match-up, a 42-30 Georgia win in Gainesville, Meyer turned around in 2008 and called two timeouts in the closing minutes of their 49-10 blowout of the Bulldogs in Georgia.
January 8th, 2009
Urban leads his Gators back to the National Championship Game, this time defeating Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners 24-14 for his second career national title.
January 1st, 2010
Meyer leads his Gators into the BCS Sugar Bowl to face Big East Champion University of Cincinnati. The Gators would blow out the Bearcats 51-24. It would be the final time Urban Meyer coached Tim Tebow.
January 1st, 2011
Meyer coaches his final game for the University of Florida, a 37-24 Outback Bowl win against the late Joe Paterno and his Penn State Nittany Lions in Tampa, Florida.
November 28th, 2011
After taking a season off and working for ESPN, Urban Meyer is introduced as the 24th head of The Ohio State University. (Getty Images)
January 15th, 2012
During halftime of the Ohio State men's basketball game against the Indiana Hoosiers, Meyer introduces his family and new coaching staff to the Buckeye faithful.
April 14th, 2012
Meyer brings more than 3,000 Ohio State students into the indoor practice facility to get a closer look at the Buckeyes football team, then puts kicker Drew Basil under the ultimate pressure before practice ended.
April 21st, 2012
Urban Meyer runs his first Spring Game as the head coach of the Buckeyes, and starts the day off with a gladiatorial 'hoot and holler' drill on the Block O at midfield.
Meyer greets freshman OL Taylor Decker during pregame warm ups ahead of the Spring Game.
Urban camped out behind each quarterback throughout the entire Spring Game, making sure to have a bird's eye view of all that went on.
To the delight of Buckeye Nation, Meyer showed he intends to keep the Carmen Ohio tradition around by joing in with his team to sing with the band after the Spring Game.
Urban leads a handful of recruits, who were making official visits to campus, off the turf at the Horseshoe following the Spring Game.
Of course you don't coach for a decade at the highest level without running into a few big names, each of which surely contributed to Meyer becoming one of the best coaches in college football.
Joe Paterno - Penn State Nittany Lions
Bob Stoops - Oklahoma Sooners
Les Miles - LSU Tigers
Nick Saban - Alabama Crimson Tide
Phillip Fulmer - Tennessee Volunteers
Steve Spurrier - South Carolina Gamecocks
Bobby Bowden - Florida State Seminoles
Jim Tressel - The Ohio State University
He even earned the right to rub shoulders with a couple of leaders with a different level of responsibility...
George W. Bush
But no successful man can do it alone. Meyer's relationship with his family has been well documented over the last few years, and each member has contributed to everything you've seen above. Coach Meyer with wife Shelley, daughters Nicki and Gigi and son Nate - the First Family of Ohio State football.
The mother of an Ohio State commit recently shined a very clear light on Urban Meyer for me with one powerful statement:
“He is an extremely humble, charitable and caring man that absolutely adores his wife and children.”
He's also one hell of a football coach. Thankfully he and his family chose THE Ohio State University.