If you want to know how deep Urban Meyer's Ohio roots go, consider this: The first time St. Ignatius (Cleveland)
head coach Chuck Kyle shook Meyer's hand, Kyle didn't own one state championship or a playoff berth.
This weekend Kyle and St. Ignatius go for their 11th Ohio Division I
state title in their 23rd postseason appearance.
"I first met (Urban Meyer) when he was at Ohio State as a graduate assistant (in 1986)," Kyle said. "He's a wonderful guy and an innovator in the game of football. It's exciting that he's back where he came from – Ohio."
Named the head coach at Ohio State on Monday, Meyer's resume has packed on some pounds since 1986 as well. During a 10-year stint as head coach at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, Meyer compiled a career record of 104-23, went 7-1 in bowl games and won two BCS national championships (both at Florida). The Gators beat the Buckeyes 41-14 for the 2006 national title. Florida also won a national championship in 2008.
Bad feelings from the home state? Hardly.
Those Ohio high school coaches we polled were more than pleased with the news.
* "I think Urban Meyer is a tremendous hire for Ohio State," Kenton (Ohio)
head coach Mike Mauk said. "He has strong Ohio ties and great relationships with several coaches in the state. We had a great working relationship with him when he was up at Bowling Green and I don't think there's anyone better for Ohio State right now."
* "I think it was essential that they got an Ohio guy," Pickerington Central
head coach Jay Sharrett said. "And I think he knows that high school football in this state is tied in very close to Ohio State football. I think he knows that connection is what makes this state strong in football and I think it's a great step in the right direction."
* "Coach Meyer has a great track record and he's an Ohio guy," Cardinal Mooney (Youngstown, Ohio)
head coach P.J. Fecko said. "He's from the diocese of Youngstown up here in northeastern Ohio. I know he's excited to be back in this area."
A graduate of Sts. John & Paul (Ashtabula, Ohio)
, Meyer is impressing the right people.
Sharrett has two future Buckeyes – seniors Roger Lewis (WR/DB) and Jacoby Boren (OL) – and Kyle has one – senior Blake Thomas (TE) – on rosters that will meet for the D-I state football championship this weekend. Fecko coached current OSU standout defensive lineman John Simon and runs a program that owns seven state titles.
Mauk is the father of national record-setting quarterback Maty Mauk and is an officer in the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association. He goes for his third state title this weekend.
"I was a big Jim Tressel supporter and he did tremendous things to help football in the state of Ohio and the relationship between high school football coaches and Ohio State University," Mauk said. "I think coach Meyer will continue to do that."
Meyer and Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith both mentioned the importance of OSU maintaining its relationship with Ohio high school coaches in Meyer's introductory press conference Monday.
"I'm from Ashtabula," Meyer said. "I know Cleveland very well. I've recruited Ohio. In my opening comments, I mentioned (the) respect I have. I love these coaches here. It's a state where you have a high school coaches association, (and) several thousand coaches show up to it. Football is really, really important in the state of Ohio. Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati…this is as good of football as there is in America. It's certainly (as) well coached as any in America."
Said Smith: "We wanted a football coach who understood that, who would create the environment here (where) the aspiration for every single football player in the state of Ohio is to be a Buckeye."
Meyer's recruiting prowess and his up-tempo explosive offense are two of his main draws. Another, of course, is his Buckeye bloodlines. Meyer started his coaching career as an assistant coach at St. Xavier (Cincinnati)
Said Fecko: "I know we're excited that Ohio State has settled in on someone and can get to work. It's great to see that Ohio State can move forward."