SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – In the last public media appearance before Notre Dame and Ohio State square off Friday in the Fiesta Bowl, coaches Brian Kelly and Urban Meyer held a brief joint press conference Thursday morning.
Here are three notes from the morning session.
For prestigious college football programs, there is the expectation that many who suit up for them will play at the next level. For both this year’s Notre Dame and OSU teams, that is absolutely true. Both rosters are littered with players who can continue playing football in the NFL.
And for many of those same guys, Friday will likely be the last time they step on a collegiate gridiron.
Kelly acknowledged that both programs boast next-level talent, but he said that doesn’t occur overnight.
“I think the important thing is both players have developed these players,” he said. “They weren’t ready-made players. They’re players that developed through the program. We know a lot of them because we recruit against each other for a lot of these guys.
“We’ve seen them develop.”
For Notre Dame, at least two offensive linemen, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Nick Martin, have first-round potential written all over them. Junior wide receiver Will Fuller will likely declare for the draft and make plays on Sundays right away.
Defensively, linebacker Jaylon Smith, who won the Butkus Award in 2015, is a guy scouts love because of his versatility. NFL teams will be racing to get their hands on him.
Meyer was later asked about how he deals with keeping his players focused on the task at hand, not potential endeavors once the game concludes. The coach acknowledged three juniors — Cardale Jones, Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott — have already told him they will not be back in Columbus for another year.
“We have agreed and we all have agreed to be pros,” Meyer said. “What do pros do? Pros attack the task at hand. The task at hand is to represent the Ohio State against Notre Dame in one of the best bowl games in the country.”
Meyer continued, questioning the timing of the bowl games and when underclassmen have to declare for the draft, but even so, the coach said it is something he just has to deal with.
“I’d rather be in that situation,” he said,”than have a bunch of not very good players.”
Happy at home
During Wednesday’s media session, Meyer inadvertently created a lot of buzz when he responded to a question about rumors that the Cleveland Browns reached out to him about a coaching job by saying, “The Browns? I’m not going there.”
While OSU’s coach meant to say he wasn’t interested in discussing the rumor, many people took the quote out of context to mean he had no desire to inherit one of the NFL’s worst teams.
On Thursday, Kelly and Meyer offered further comments about the possibility of them jumping ship to the NFL at some point, which should please fans of the two programs.
“I don’t think it’s tempting at all,” Kelly said. “We get these questions all the time. … It’s really not tempting at all. We’re so focused on what we do on a day-to-day basis that we don’t kind of sit around going, ‘Boy, I’d like to coach in the NFL.’”
Meyer agreed with his fellow ex-University of Cincinnati coach, saying that there is simply too much going on in the life of the head coach of a major college program to think about future career prospects.
“I spend very little time, especially this time of year, man, where there’s so much going on, bowl season, recruiting, staff adjustments, those type of things going on, that I’ve never really spent much time thinking about it,” Meyer said.
Kelly also offered — as evidenced by the former Oregon and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who was let go by the Eagles on Tuesday — the less-than-stellar track record of college coaches making the leap to the professional ranks. One such example is OSU’s new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Greg Schiano, who was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two years after leaving his position at Rutgers.
With the adamant declaration of the two coaches, it became all the more clear on Thursday that they plan to be at their respective schools for the long haul.
In the days and weeks leading up to the 1 p.m. New Year’s Day game, OSU has had a number of starters whose status became a question mark.
Earlier in the month, senior defensive tackle Adolphus Washington was cited for solicitation, ending his collegiate career with a suspension for the game.
Then, just before the team left for Arizona, Elliott was also cited. In his case, it was for driving with a suspended license. However, Meyer opted not to discipline the junior with a suspension, causing some to wonder why he seemingly gave unequal treatment.
“It was to me a traffic violation issue and one was something more serious,” Meyer said. “I’m not going to get into much more detail than that. Just completely a different set of circumstances.”
Meyer also addressed the statuses of redshirt senior tight end Nick Vannett and redshirt sophomore cornerback Gareon Conley, who were each absent at Wednesday’s media day.
The coach said the two starters were each under the weather with colds, but are “fine.”
Correction Dec. 31: An earlier version of this article improperly stated that Brian Kelly’s brother is Chip Kelly, formerly the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. It has since been updated.