One year ago, if I had told you that Urban Meyer would go undefeated in his first season at Ohio State, have his star quarterback Braxton Miller possibly poised to be Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons and Ohio State favorites to win the Big Ten, you would think that the coach is in a great position. Well, maybe not so much.
Meyer is currently under siege from the media and his plentiful group of critics.
He has had to suspend star running back Carlos Hyde indefinitely, ban star cornerback Bradley Roby from attending Big Ten media days, and suspend freshmen Marcus Baugh and Tim Gardner for off the field incidents. Oh, and that has all been just this week. There have been three arrests so far this summer for Ohio State, and if Hyde does get charged, Meyer would have a fourth.
Sure, every coach has to deal with off the field issues during the offseason. We are talking about a bunch of college kids who haven’t gotten to play football in months. But if Hyde is to indeed get charged with a crime from his alleged assault this past weekend, no major college football program will have as many arrests as Ohio State this summer. And this is not an isolated trend, as four Ohio State football players were arrested in the summer of 2012.
And while many have claimed that Meyer would constantly fend off the media to protect his players during their legal troubles while he was at Florida, Meyer has not been able to do that at Ohio State. Meyer was swamped (pun intended) by questions about his players’ off the field kerfuffles at his Big Ten media day appearance, with that being the biggest storyline in college football. Meyer has not been able to keep things quiet and now the entire Ohio State football program is not being talked about as the best team in the Big Ten, which they are, but as a band of delinquents led by the enabling head coach.
Florida coach Will Muschamp has called out the Gators’ former coach for how he left the Florida program and has criticized him plenty in the past weeks. In Muschamp’s first season, after Meyer left so he could find another major program where the grass would be greener, err, focus on his health and family, Florida football was a mess. After winning National Titles in 2006 and in 2008 with classy characters like Aaron Hernandez and Tim Tebow, Meyer’s Gators went just 4-4 in the SEC in 2010 and he decided to leave. During Meyer’s six years at Florida, he had a whopping 25 different players get arrested, according to the Orlando Sentinel. That isn’t bad luck, that’s a bad program. The year after Meyer left, the team would go just 3-5 in the SEC and had a whopping seven players arrested during 2011, as it was made up of players that Meyer recruited.
Meyer found trouble at Florida and got out of Gainesville. Now he is at Ohio State and before he could even coach in a bowl game, that trouble has caught up with him already. It is no coincidence that wherever Meyer goes, while the team might win, they will also be marching through courthouses.
Sure, Meyer is going to win games at Ohio State, despite the off the field issues. Ohio State will likely win the Big Ten this year and have a legitimate shot at going undefeated. But the question has to start being asked: how long will Urban Meyer last at Ohio State? As long as the Buckeyes are winning on the field, the off the field distractions will be held at bay. But if Meyer gives his critics one slip up, things could certainly get even uglier in Columbus.
You can follow Alex Dale on Twitter @alexdaleCFB .