Hot Reads: Urban Meyer's Retirement is a Big
Photo Credit: Ryan Loco

Hot Reads: Urban Meyer’s Retirement is a Big, Big Deal for the Big Ten

December 04, 2018

Urban Meyer, the coach with the highest active winning percentage in the country, is retiring. Ohio State informed news outlets Tuesday morning of a press conference later that day where Meyer will officially announce he is stepping down after the Rose Bowl.

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day will be named Ohio State's next head coach. Day, 39, served as the Buckeyes' interim head coach to start the 2018 season while Meyer served a suspension stemming from his handling of domestic abuse allegations against former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith.

The summer controversy plus Meyers' mid-season revelation that he struggles with a cyst on his brain combined to create a lot of "will he or won't he" speculation throughout the season. While his retirement may not be a shock it still might send shockwaves throughout the Big Ten.

Meyer's Buckeyes went 82-9 since his arrival in 2012 and 55-4 in Big Ten games. His first team went 12-0 but was ineligible to play for the Big Ten title due to sanctions from Jim Tressel's dismissal two years earlier. Over the seven seasons to follow, Ohio State won three conference championships and the national championship in 2014. Saturday's win over Northwestern for the 2018 Big Ten championship was Meyer's 82nd win at Ohio State, giving him one more than his mentor, Earle Bruce, on the school's all-time list.

Simply put: Meyer's Buckeyes had a stranglehold on the Big Ten. They out-recruited everyone. They beat almost everyone. It was more shocking when a team knocked Ohio State off and the Buckeyes didn't get to play for a championship then when they did.

It's a big, big deal for the Big Ten collectively.

While there were rumors during the season that Day was going to be named coach-in-waiting, it's still somewhat surprising to see one of the winningest programs in the country hand the reins to a first-time head coach. Day played at New Hampshire and starting his coaching career there. He's part of the Chip Kelly tree, spending two stints in the NFL with the architect of Oregon's most successful run. While it may have become the expected move as the 2018 season progressed, this is still a bold choice by Ohio State. 

As most of Tuesday morning's reports noted, the hope is to catch the same lightning in a bottle Oklahoma did when it promoted Lincoln Riley to head coach following Bob Stoops' retirement.

That said, it's never a given that success will continue after a legendary coach retires. Just ask [INSERT NAME OF POWER PROGRAM]'s fans. You could ask fans of almost any traditional power. They've all been through it at one point or another.

But The Ohio State University has stood out as the exception to that trend. Woody Hayes was dismissed after he punched an opposing player in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Here's the Buckeyes' coaching history since then:

Earle Bruce 9 (1979-87) 4 81-26-1
John Cooper 13 (1988-00) 3 111-43-4
Jim Tressel 10 (2001-10) 6 116-22
Luke Fickell (interim) 1 (2011) 0 6-7
Urban Meyer 8 (2012-18) 3 82-9

Every full-time head coach at Ohio State post-Hayes has won at least three conference championships. Two won national championships. Three of those coaches –– Bruce, Cooper and Tressel –– were fired and it still didn't matter. Ohio State found a replacement and kept winning. The Buckeyes have had two losing seasons since 1979, Cooper's first season and Fickell's interim year. When Cooper, with a .715 winning percentage with the Buckeyes, is the closest a program comes to getting the hire wrong that program is doing something right.

Ohio State has been nearly immune to the uncertainty that can come with a coaching change. We'll see if this time it's more of the same for Ohio State or more like what every other power program has experienced at some point over the last 40 years.

The Grab Bag

  • Nebraska is expected to add a transfer from Oklahoma State to the defensive line and he has a family connection to the Huskers.
  • Derek Peterson takes stock of where the Huskers stand at quarterback in 2019.
  • Jacob Padilla is back with his weekly roundup of Nebraska high school hoops, focusing on the Husker commits and targets.
  • Greg Smith looks at what the ideal finish to 2019 recruiting would look like for the Huskers on defense.

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