Urban Myth

Travis Kriens

Former University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer was officially named the head coach at Ohio State on Nov. 28, even if Meyer vehemently denied that a deal was in the works up until a couple of days prior.

It was reported as early as Nov. 18 that it was all but a foregone conclusion that Meyer would be the Ohio State coach next season and the ensuing week or denials were child-like.

Meyer was taken off of the broadcasting team with Dave Pasch and former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman for this past weekend’s Ohio State vs. Michigan game. Instead, ESPN said that he would be back in the studio in Connecticut. He later asked and was granted the entire weekend off.

Even earlier in the year when Jim Tressel was fired, Meyer said “I am committed to ESPN and will not pursue any coaching opportunities this fall.”

This ended up not being true as Ohio State still has a bowl game left and talks between Meyer and Ohio State began before the last regular season game of the season.

Meanwhile, fellow ESPN analyst Bob Davie took the head coaching job at New Mexico and still called two games this past weekend. While they were not games involving his future employer, Davie worked nonetheless and didn’t ask for the weekend off even after accepting a new coaching job.

If Meyer was telling the truth and there was not deal in place the week leading up to the Ohio State vs. Michigan game that he was supposed to call, then what is the problem in working that game? And why would ESPN move Meyer to the studio when he has been on the road the entire season and done a tremendous job as an analyst? It seems to me that Meyer would be better served and utilized in the broadcast booth rather than in a studio hundreds or thousands of miles away from the games he would be asked to comment on.

The best part was, as ESPN.com reported the story, their website said, “Meyer accepts Ohio State job, sources say.” You need sources to tell you that one of your employees is taking another job? You would think the employee (Meyer) would tell the employer (ESPN) if he was taking another job and not have to hear about from “sources”.

Meyer said at his introductory press conference on Monday that one of the reasons why he stepped away from coaching at the end of last season was that he “didn’t like the state of college football and I didn’t want to be a part of that.”

I hate to tell ya Urban, but it has gotten a whole lot worse since you have been gone. Read up on the problems at Miami, Penn State and your current school Ohio State and tell me that you want to be a part of that.

Looking at his contract, Meyer will be paid $100,000 for a graduation success rate of 70-79.99 percent and $150,000 if the “GSR” is 80 percent or higher. The GSR is the percentage of athletes who graduate within six years after starting college, excluding students who transfer to other schools. He will also be paid $100,000 if the yearly academic progress rate is between 990-999, while his compensation increases to $150,000 if the “APR” is 1,000 or above.

Meanwhile, Meyer will earn $150,000 for a BCS bowl game appearance and $250,000 if Ohio State makes the National Championship game.

It seems clear to me that when it comes to the success that Meyer could/will have at Ohio State, it will be more important, in more than one way, what happens on the field compared to what happens in the classroom. Ohio State football had a graduation rate of 63 percent, which is good for ninth-highest in the 12-team Big 10.

Why does Meyer get a bonus for something that should be expected of him, which is graduating his players? There should not be any extra incentive for coaches to have better academic marks. I don’t see anywhere in his contract where Meyer has to give back money if he doesn’t reach those academic marks.

When Meyer first came to Florida in 2005, the graduation rate was at 80 percent. When he left in 2010, it dropped to 69 percent. Meyer’s players also had issues with the law while at Florida, with over 25 of his players either were arrested or faced charges in his six years in Gainesville.

Lane Kiffin had a similar clause in his short-lived stay at Tennessee. $40,000 for academic plateaus, while he would have received four times that amount for a National Championship appearance and seven times that amount if he won.

One of Bob Stoops’ old contracts at Oklahoma, signed in 2005, states that he receives the same amount of money ($60,000) if he is named national coach of the year as he would if he graduates 85 percent or better of his players.

Guess which school had the lowest graduation rate of all BCS schools in 2011? Oklahoma at a meager 44 percent. San Jose State is the only FBS school with a lower rate, 42 percent, while the FBS average is at 67 percent. Compared with the rest of the university, all students at Oklahoma have a graduation rate of 62 percent.

Is Stoops disciplined in any way for not graduating even half of his players? Absolutely not. If Stoops’ winning percentage was like his graduation rate, I guaranteed he wouldn’t last more than three seasons at Oklahoma and that may be a conservative estimate.

Ohio State will pay Meyer a stipend of $1,200 a month, which will be used to cover costs for two automobiles, as well as full golf membership at a mutually agreed upon golf course. You would think that $4 million a year would be enough that the university wouldn’t have to chip in an extra $14,000 a year towards a vehicle.

This is just one big-time college coach at one big-time university. It is like this at most other BCS schools as well. Reading through numerous head coaching contracts, they were virtually the same. Each got bonuses for conference championships and bowl game appearances. A stipend for automobiles was also prevalent in each one too. Congratulations to the first coach that set that precedent.

To the fans of Ohio State football, I hope Urban Meyer coaches better than he handled this situation.