Students enjoy Town Hall Setting with Meyer, Coaches
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nearly a thousand Ohio State students piled into the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom at the Ohio Union Tuesday for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Packed into a ballroom named for Ohio State’s most legendary football star, students were treated to an up-close, behind-the-scenes evening with new OSU football coach Urban Meyer and a handful of his assistant coaches.
Much like he did with his open practice during the spring, Meyer wanted to give Ohio State students the rare opportunity to share in the ownership of the Buckeye football program through a "Student Town Hall” meeting.
He brought a few of his closest advisors along for entertainment purposes. That, of course, include his wife Shelley, but also assistant coaches Luke Fickell and Mike Vrabel, along with assistant athletic director for football sports performance Mickey Marotti.
“What you really need are great coaches,” Meyer told the students Tuesday evening.
“I’m proud to say we’ve got a great staff, and these two (Fickell and Vrabel) are great coaches.”
Marotti led the students in a spirited new pre-game tradition call “Quick Cals,” but it was Fickell and Vrabel who stole the show with their jovial demeanor and overall familiarity with each other.
That was something that really stuck out to students like Tim Jessberger, a 19-year old freshman from New Albany who was in attendance.
“Vrabel and Fickell were the jokesters of the event. They definitely haven't changed much since college,” said Jessberger, a Business Information Systems and Marketing major at Ohio State.
“At one point, a student asked about the coaches/wives favorite date spots (so he could take the wives out). Vrabel said he didn't have a favorite place, but ‘If I have purses, shoes, or Mexican food, I'll have a good shot at the end of the night.’ ”
Of course, all of that was said with Shelley Meyer, Fickell’s wife Amy and Vrabel’s wife Jen, a former Ohio State volleyball player, sitting adjacent to their husbands on stage.
“The crowd exploded with laughter and the expression on Jen Vrabel's face was priceless,” Jessberger added.
“Vrabel also told a story about how he came home from an official visit (where Fickell was his host) with Fickell's ID and his mom found it while doing laundry. You could definitely tell that they're really good friends.”
Students were allowed to submit questions beforehand and those who were chosen were allowed to ask the questions during the event. Hence the idea of a Town Hall format. Meyer also brought four players from the OSU football team with him on Tuesday evening.
That included senior fullback Zach Boren, sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, senior linebacker Etienne Sabino and senior defensive end John Simon. Overall themes of the evening included Marotti’s emphasis on having great work ethic and Meyer’s plan to build a coaching staff with deep Ohio roots.
“Urban was definitely the most serious of all of the coaches besides Marotti,” Jessberger said.
“Fickell and Vrabel were cracking jokes and entertaining the crowd, whereas Meyer was more focused on the idea of campus unity. He was laughing and smiling, but not making the crowd laugh like Fickell and Vrabel.”
Meyer told the OSU students he and his staff would do their best to get involved as much stuff as possible with things like BuckeyeThon, Homecoming, Block "O", and Buckeye Kickoff.
“He said that they were ready and willing,” Jessberger added.
“I know they get asked to do a lot of things every week, along with the daily grind of recruiting, coaching, workouts, etc, but the coaching staff seemed very receptive to being more involved with students than ever before.”
Meyer actually made it a point during the evening to praise the job Jim Tressel and his staff did at Ohio State over the last 10 years.
“There was obviously a mistake made,” he said, “but you can’t just take the last decade of football and say that great things didn’t happen at Ohio State.”
Overall, it was just a unique experience that students like Jessberger will not soon forget.
“It was really neat to see the coaching staff and Urban in such a relaxed state. Fickell especially seemed at ease, in contrast to the stress that you could tell was taking a toll on him last year,” he said.
“It was just really cool to see the coaches taking a break from the business-y side of coaching. The students really enjoyed and appreciated it.”
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