Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer has won three national championships and led the Buckeyes to their first title in 12 years less than two months ago — and he isn’t letting up.
OSU senior linebacker Joshua Perry said Meyer and the rest of the coaches were just as intense on the first day of spring practice as they have ever been.
“They want to coach us really hard and they want to put us in those situations where we have to kind of fight a little bit,” Perry said. “They want to make sure we get the best out of everybody and we want to develop young players and make sure the older players know what they’re doing and have great leadership.”
Perry, who was part of Meyer’s first recruiting class at OSU, led the Buckeyes in tackles during their title run.
Another member of his recruiting class, senior offensive lineman Taylor Decker, said Tuesday that Meyer’s consistency is what has led to the success of the football program at OSU.
“He is the same guy. He is not going to change,” Decker said. “He will recognize guys for their efforts but he is not going to change the type of person and the type of program or the culture that we have around here.”
That culture took a slight hit this offseason as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman bolted to the University of Houston for a head coaching position while running backs coach Stan Drayton accepted the same position with the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
Meyer said losing a coach like Drayton worries him.
“You lose a Stan Drayton who is a heck of a football coach. You worry, will there be a drop off in that room?” Meyer said. “I am going to watch it even more closely now than I ever have.”
Meyer will likely also be watching over the quarterback room, which is now occupied by Tim Beck, who was hired from Nebraska to replace Herman.
Meyer said the reason for bringing in coaches like Beck to replace Herman and Tony Alford from Notre Dame to replace Drayton is important because of what they can add to an already established culture.
“You look at what Nebraska, the last 10 years, it’s one of the winningest programs in America. I picked their brains about some of the things they did well,” Meyer said. “Then Tony Alford came from one of the great programs, they played for a title two years ago. I try to absorb and pull information out of them.”
Make no mistake, though: Meyer is committed to what OSU is doing and is sticking to it.
“We have a coach’s manual that we kind of went through. There is a very detailed way we teach. The expectation level of your unit room, the culture of the program, there are three parts of the culture you are expected to know,” Meyer said. “I would have to say that’s one area I am insane about.”
But while Meyer is worrying about introducing new coaches into the OSU environment, he said he is also encouraged by the coaches who have already been in the system.
“Our defensive coaches … they actually led a team meeting today,” Meyer said. “Chris Ash and Luke Fickell (led it) and it was magical. You have meetings that are reactive and proactive. Reactive meetings are awful. The meeting we had today was proactive.”
While the defensive coaches are starting to lead team meetings, it’s an offensive coach who received an offseason promotion.
Offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner was upgraded to offensive coordinator after Herman’s departure, which Decker said he was happy to see.
“He deserved something like that, a promotion like that. When coach Herman told us he was leaving, I knew coach Warinner wanted that spot because he had been in that seat before,” Decker said. “I am completely confident in his ability to do that.”
Warinner served as the offensive coordinator at the University of Kansas for three years before coaching for two years at Notre Dame.
So with a mix of new and returning coaches, how is Meyer going to monitor his team?
“That’s something I’m going to watch like a hawk,” Meyer said. “That the culture here is established now we have to just add to it not change it.”
The Buckeyes are set to play their annual Spring Game on April 18 at Ohio Stadium before starting the 2015 season on the road against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7.