Meyer, Buckeyes Working to ‘Catch the Best’
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s much harder to maintain success than it is to create it.
Those are the words, paraphrased, of Urban Meyer, who won a pair of BCS national championships at Florida but ultimately wore himself out, both mentally and physically, chasing perfection down in Gainesville.
It was a perfection he had tasted once before at Utah, and now again at Ohio State. The 2012 Buckeyes went a perfect 12-0 under Meyer and his new coaching staff this season, but had to watch as Alabama trampled over Notre Dame, the only other undefeated FBS football team, in the BCS national title game.
“I was fortunate enough to be at the championship game. I think probably the best fundamental team I’ve seen this year won that game,” Meyer said Friday.
“That’s with leverage, blocking, tackling and all the things of how you win football games.”
Meyer is quite familiar with what it takes to win at that level. He knows what it feels like to hold that crystal football, to look out across the see of people celebrating under a confetti sky. He has touched the pinnacle of college football, he has tasted the waters and knows that nothing else will ever quench his unquenchable thirst.
“Twenty-four, seven, every second of our life,” Meyer quickly responded when asked how often he thinks about catching Alabama for that top spot in college football’s pecking order.
“I wont say we’re just trying to catch them. (Texas) A&M beat them, and I’ve watched that game a bunch. I watched Oregon against Kansas State. Those are two of the finest programs in America. We have to go catch them. Everyone’s trying to catch the best. Some people are trying to catch us.”
Not many programs were chasing after the Buckeyes a year ago when Meyer first took over the program. He inherited a team that went 6-7 under interim head coach Luke Fickell, and a program that really lost its way during the tattoos scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of beloved head coach Jim Tressel.
“I’m really satisfied with where we are right now,” Meyer said Friday.
“A year ago this time we were getting ready to start our 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., whatever it was, conversations outside because people were late for meetings. We were still trying to finalize our staff and we had a group of offensive linemen we didn’t really have much confidence or trust in.”
One thing Meyer could trust in was his system. It had worked at Bowling Green, at Utah and especially at Florida, where Meyer became known as one of the truly great coaches in all of college football.
He had turned around a team that lost 14 games in three years under Ron Zook and turned them into a national championship outfit in just two years. Many people are expecting a similar turn of events in Columbus for Meyer in year two, especially after what he was able to accomplish in his first season at the helm of a new program.
Meyer knows his team is a lot better today than it was 365 days ago, but he also knows it’s dangerous to start believing things that have not yet come to pass.
“A year later, a lot of good positive things, but we have to get a lot better in a lot of different areas,” Meyer said.
“You have a good season and there’s a lot of conversation about things that really shouldn’t be discussed because it’s not true. For example, are you going to go do this next year? No, we’re probably not unless we get a lot better. Like a lot better. Fundamentally we are not where we need to be.”
That’s something Meyer and his assistants will stress to the group of returning players this afternoon when they convene for a team meeting at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus. Meyer has dedicated two walls to honoring the 2012 Buckeyes, hoping maybe this team, and others that come after it, will remember the hard work and sacrifice it took to accomplish perfection.
That is why the new mantra for Meyer’s 2013 Buckeyes this offseason is “truth,” as in reality. This team has a chance to be very, very good, but the “truth” is that they are nowhere close to where they want to be right now.
“That's like saying we've got to go to the moon. We're nowhere near that conversation,” Meyer said Friday.
“If you want to be a very functional football team, there has to be some self-driven leadership amongst groups. It’ll be interesting to see how it gets done because it’s on the players.”
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