COLUMBUS, Ohio — If Ohio State did not come calling, Urban Meyer says he was planning to stay away from coaching for at least another year.
Meyer, the former Florida coach and native Buckeye, was officially hired Monday by Ohio State, a program with a glittering past that has suffered through a difficult year of NCAA violations.
“If not for the coaching position at Ohio State, I would not have coached this year,” he said.
“A year ago in my mind I was convinced I was done coaching,” he said.
He added that he is feeling great.
“I’ve been checked out and I’m ready to go,” he said. “I’ve been to a place and I don’t want to go back.”
Meyer will become one of the highest paid coaches in college football, along with Alabama’s Nick Saban and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, and Texas’ Mack Brown. The school says he will receive a six-year contract that pays $4 million annually, plus another $2.4 million total in “retention payments.” He also can qualify for supplemental bonuses.
Interim coach Luke Fickell, who took over when Jim Tressel was forced out for breaking NCAA rules, will coach the Buckeyes (6-6) in their bowl game and be retained by Meyer as an assistant, although Meyer declined to say in what capacity.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said his first conversation with Meyer about becoming coach was on Nov. 20 by phone. Smith said the two met face-to-face Nov. 23.
Meyer won two national championships in six years as the coach at Florida. Now, the 47-year-old will return to the place where his college coaching career began in 1986 after spending a year as an ESPN game analyst.
Smith said he was won over by Meyer.
“There’s a right time for certain leaders,” he said. “This is the right time for Urban Meyer to lead this football team. … He gets it.”
Earle Bruce, the coach at Ohio State when Meyer was a graduate assistant, has remained a close friend and conf