Ohio State: Meyer brings a new style to Buckeyes

By JIM NAVEAUSpecial to The Crescent-News Published:

COLUMBUS -- For 10 years when Jim Tressel was Ohio State's football coach, the question was put to OSU players many times.

That question was if inside the locker room, was there a different, more vocal, more visibly intense Jim Tressel than the one who rarely showed his emotions in public.

With Tressel, you got scarlet and gray. Lots and lots of gray.

But around a month into the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State, it appears there will be no need for questions like that.

Forget the gray. Meyer thinks, speaks and acts in bold colors.

He has already lured prized recruits away from other schools and brought in assistant coaches who could have comfortably continued to work where they were.

Ohio State's players have met Meyer and gotten a little taste of how he coaches a football team.

But, in a informal sit-down with a small group of reporters recently, Meyer said "a hurricane" awaits the players when he takes full control of the football program Tuesday.

He has watched practice and talked with current head coach Luke Fickell about returning players to do some player evaluation.

But Fickell and the rest of OSU's coaching staff will direct the team through its Jan. 2 Gator Bowl game against Florida, where Meyer won two national championships before stepping down after the 2010 season.

Once the Buckeyes return from that game, Meyer will be in charge and the make-up of his coaching staff should be clear.

"I want a hurricane to hit when we hit," he said. "But a hurricane can't hit by itself. I want nine guys (assistant coaches) in place, I want the strength staff in place, I want everything in place so that when we stand in front of that team, it's a very clear message."

Newly hired strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, who was Florida's strength coach, could be the man most responsible for creating Meyer's "hurricane."

"I want practice to be so hard the games will be easy," Meyer said. "Michael Jordan's quote about why the games are so easy is going to be plastered all over the weight room. I don't remember the exact quote, but to paraphrase it, I want practice to be so hard the games are going to be easy."

Meyer's hiring has elevated the already high expectation level at Ohio State, something he knows all about.

"Ohio State is a monster. I just came from a monster. I get that. I was probably consumed by that at one time but I can assure you I won't be now. What's the expectation level? It's real clear, the same as it was at the other place," Meyer said.

When the Gator Bowl matched Ohio State against Florida, it hoped to capitalize on Meyer coaching the Gators before coming to OSU. But that's one storm he won't be doing anything to intensify.

Meyer says he won't be going to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl and might not even watch it on television.

He says part of that is that he wants to respect Fickell and the current staff. Also, he has feelings for both his current program and the one he led to two national championships.

"I love both places and have a lot invested in both places. I have a lot of respect for both places," he said.

Meyer spoke before the NCAA imposed a one-year bowl ban on Ohio State. That ban might have come as somewhat of a surprise to him.

Speaking a day before the bowl ban was announced, he said, "I just did a lot of research. I contacted people outside of Ohio State before I accepted the position and I wanted to hear from some trusted people that I have within the NCAA and other people who dealt directly with the NCAA," Meyer said. "It came back -- I wouldn't use the word 'assurance,' because who knows? -- but when you start talking about the overall integrity of the institution, it's a positive. There were some mistakes made that were serious. I haven't had any assurance about what's going to happen."

Jim Naveau covers Ohio State football for The Lima News. Contact him at jnaveau@limanews.com or 419-993-2087

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