Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Members of the Ohio State football team spoke about their first impressions of Urban Meyer and how far they have come in the nearly 12-month period since former coach Jim Tressel left the program. Meyers’ players addressed how they handle the criticism and critiques of a new coach.
Impressions to Coach Meyer before the season
A new head coach with two National Championships under his belt and an intense recruiting style was enough to get Buckeyes excited for a new era.
“He definitely got our attention right off the bat-I knew he was a winner, and that’s all that really mattered to me,” junior defensive back C.J. Barnett said. “He has two championships and you can’t argue with that, and I want to be a part of that.”
Senior tight end Jake Stoneburner said there is more than just intensity that makes Meyer unique.
Once you get to know him he really looks out for you and really wants to get to know you, know who you are besides a football player,”
Mistakes are probably hard to hide in front of 105,000 fans at Ohio Stadium, and senior linebacker Etienne Sabino said Meyer is holding nothing back during his critiques of the players.
“It puts you in an uncomfortable position but I think it’s good because he sees how you perform under pressure, it shows how you can react,” Sabino said of Meyer’s criticisms. “I’ve learned there is no gray area. I’m never going to walk in here and wonder, ‘I wonder what he thinks of me or I wonder if I’m doing this right or this wrong?’ They’re going to tell you.”
Sophomore linebacker Curtis Grant compared Meyer’s coaching style to parenting. When your parents tell you to do something you get it done, and the same is true with Meyer, Grant said.
“We know what we need to work on, what we need to do and when we need to do it. It’s not like he’s sugar coating it,” Grant said.
Stoneburner said Meyer’s motivational techniques meant he had to develop a thicker skin.
“Stuff can’t be repeated out here but he said some stuff that was probably true but you usually wouldn’t say to someone, but that’s his way of getting to people and it actually works,” he said.
One year later
Almost one year removed from the resignation of “The Vest,” some players have played under Tressel former head coach and current defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and Meyer.
Stoneburner said that no matter who the coach or the quarterback is, OSU football is something to get people excited about.
“It’s almost like it (Tressel’s resignation) didn’t happen – everyone’s excited about the season and I feel like media around the country are wondering what Ohio State is going to do with their new coach, how good are they going to be and we have good expectations,” Stoneburner said.
Stoneburner admitted that he was worried at this time last year about the program’s future, saying it was tough on him.
“For losing one of the greatest coaches at Ohio State ever just a year ago to be where we’re at, we’re pretty fortunate,” he said.
Junior offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said the team is mentally and physically in a better place than this time last year and that the conviction in the players in more prominent than ever.
“It was a hard year. Like I said, the season was tumultuous for us,” Mewhort said. “Our guys got down but we put all that behind, understand this year’s been great just coming out and renewing out effort and work effort.”
The players spoke about staying motivated all season with the bowl ban and emphasized controlling the things they can this season, and not what has already been decided.
“What we can control is going out there and beating everybody. We can go 12-0,” Barnett said. “You just have to look at the bright side.”
Stoneburner said that, despite what he called the toughest offseason of his OSU career, the team is out to prove it can still have a successful season without playing a bowl game.
“I think when the season comes around people will see how different Ohio State is,” he said.