Meyer addresses Ohio Prep Coaches

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Ashtabula native Urban Meyer started his coaching career as an assistant at Cincinnati St. Xavier High School.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was due in Chicago today for some previously scheduled meetings with the Big Ten. But
the coach also wanted to make sure he spent some time with one of his
most important constituencies – Ohio’s high school football coaches. He did so this morning at the OHSFCA Coaches Clinic in Columbus…


Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was due in Chicago today for some previously scheduled meetings with the Big Ten.

But
the coach also wanted to make sure he spent some time with one of his
most important constituencies – Ohio’s high school football coaches.
Well over 1,000 Ohio coaches jammed into a ballroom at the Easton Hilton
bright and early this morning to hear some words of wisdom from OSU’s
newly hired head coach. He was the featured speaker for the three-day
Ohio High School Football Coaches Association annual clinic.

(Click here to view a five-minute snippet of Meyer’s presentation to the coaches.)

Much like Jim Tressel did in his first address at the clinic as
the OSU coach 11 years ago, Meyer pledged that he and his staff will do
everything they can to assist the state’s coaches and he also said his
number one goal at Ohio State is to “make Ohio proud.”

“In your minds, the answer is yes,” Meyer told the coaches. “If
you want to come down here and visit or go to practice or you want to
talk or get film cut-ups, yes, yes, yes. The answer is yes.”

Meyer mentioned that administrative assistants Greg Gillum and
Mark Pantoni will be charged with maintaining relationships with Ohio’s
prep coaches.

He then delved into his plan for success as a head coach.

“My job as the head coach is to put a plan together,” Meyer said.
“The plan is very simplistic. It’s not rocket science. You recruit
really good players. If you’re lucky, you recruit great ones. Number
two, hire great coaches. Everybody knows that.

“My experience in one year away from coaching is how ignorant so
many people are about this great game. I hear the criticism about that
left-handed quarterback (Tim Tebow) I was so blessed to coach. They say,
‘I think he drops the ball a little bit.’ I think he does a little bit.
But the competitive nature and competitive spirit of that man is unlike
anybody else I’ve ever seen.

“So if anybody wants to bet against a guy like that, I’ll cover
your bet. He will do something magical if given the opportunity. Go out
and recruit a player. Height, weight, size, speed, 40-yard dash and
those things are all measurable. The immeasurable is will he reach
across a checkers table and try to squeeze the air out of your body if
he loses? We want guys like that.”

Meyer said he wants to see how prospects perform in their biggest games.

“We will consult with the high school coaches and I also want to
see how he does in the big game,” he said. “We recruited a running back
from Canton (Brionte Dunn).
I was OK with him. Then I found out he ran for over 300 yards twice
against Massillon. Take him … because the competitive nature is there.
To do that against that school, you have to be a real guy.”

Meyer is also looking for character and toughness.

“Does he have the self discipline and the self respect to take
care of himself?” Meyer asked. “Unfortunately, that’s getting harder and
harder to find. You ask the high school coach. We recruited 25 guys and
16 were from the state of Ohio. It was so refreshing to sit down and
visit with the high school coaches.

“It’s great to recruit the mom, the dad, the high school coach
and the player. I’m not real interested in the third party who may have a
vested interest in the young person. It was refreshing to come back up
here and have the high school coaches as part of the process.

“Does he refuse to come out of the game? Is he relentless and
plays when he is hurt? Does he go both ways? That makes him more
valuable to us.

“Is he a kid who takes the extra step? Right at the end, we
refused to take a kid from out of state. He was a wide receiver. His
extra step was out of bounds. I’ve been blessed to coach some guys whose
extra step was to drop their shoulder and get that extra 2 yards right
through a guy. Is he the linebacker who is going to take that extra step
and put his nose on that football.

“Can he run? He doesn’t have to be a 4.2. Now I love 4.2’s, but
does he play fast? It doesn’t have to be track time. You have to be able
to run.”

Meyer then cited a quote from the legendary Michigan coach Fielding Yost from early in the 1900s.

“It blew me away,” Meyer said. “I was having a bad day and I
started thinking about the great game of football and how it separates
itself from all other sports.

“He said, ‘No lawyer or doctor ever approached the top of the
ladder in his profession who did not have a love and have an enthusiasm
and a self-constant urging him higher. Likewise, no man can be a
football player who does not love the game?’

“This was at the turn of the century. This is what separates
football from other sports. Can you play other sports and not love them?
You have a bad day in football and it’s a real bad day. If you take
care of yourself, it can be a bad day. It is a violent and tough game.”

Meyer continued with Yost’s words: “ ‘Half-heartedness or lack of
earnestness will eliminate any man.’ Think about that. We had a guy who
was half-hearted. He eliminated himself. He didn’t like what we were
doing. We were up at 5 a.m. in 10 degree weather and out there doing
bear crawls. He made a decision and said, ‘I don’t like this.’ We try to
help players make those decisions. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.

“The time to find that out is not on Oct. 27 against Penn State.
We’re going to try and put guys in positions in the off-season to see if
you really like it. That tells you if you have a guy who has a chance.”

And more from Yost: “ ‘The love of the game must be genuine. It
is not devotion to a fad that makes men play football. It is because
they enjoy the struggle.’ It’s not writing an autograph on a ball and
throwing it in the stands and all of the self promotion.”

Meyer spent a great deal of time talking about teaching
techniques. He urged the coaches to move past being presenters to become
true teachers. He said that comes through direct teaching and
interaction with the players (i.e. making the players repeat back the
schemes being taught).

“One of the advantages I have is I can sit in nine different
meeting rooms,” Meyer said. “I can take notes on how things are being
taught. The objective of a teacher is to get the student to retain
information and skill. Use the information and skill and increase
production because of the information and skill.

“Our style at Ohio State is to have an organized, clear
objective. My job is to make sure that coach is very clear. What are you
asking that kid to do and is he getting it done? I want the player on
the edge of his seat and scared he’s going to be called upon. That
forces stimulation of the brain.

“Presenters present information and they fail people if they
don’t get it. If I give you information and you don’t get it, I give you
an F. In our profession, that’s one of these (turns his thumb down to
represent a loss). If we get an F, there’s a new staff coming in here.
We don’t present. We teach. That means exhausting all means to make sure
they get it.”

Meyer then used the example of former Florida quarterback Chris Leak, who they discovered had a learning disability.

“We had a lot of issues with him,” Meyer said. “He threw the
prettiest pass you’ve ever seen, but he couldn’t learn. Their whole
offense before was they’d look at the sideline for the play call and he
wouldn’t even have to talk. They’d clap their hands and go.

“This kid was tough. Mickey Marotti, our strength coach, said he
was one of the toughest guys on the team. He’s got a gift. We brought in
specialists. We found out that he was dyslexic. He can’t learn from the
board. We figured it out and I’m proud to say in 2006 we won the
national championship because our meetings went from the classroom to on
the field. It was all motor learning. The kid was fine.

“We can’t accept that he’s not able to learn from the chalkboard.
It’s not the kid. I better never hear, ‘That damn kid can’t do this.’
That kid better start doing that because you’re a teacher. That’s where
that pressure falls on that coach.”

More Topics

* Meyer preached about competive
excellence. This is where they create situations in practice where the
players must compete or be left behind.

“On edge is our style,” Meyer said.

In every drill, he said, “You won, you lost. You better not lose next time.”

Meyer cited a Michael Jordan quote where he said, “I practice hard enough that the games are often easier.”

He then added, “Our Tuesday practices are the most miserable
practices you’ve ever gone through. They’re full pads. It’s inside
drill, stop the run and you’re going to block the hardest looks on
offense. You’re going to look like (crap) … because we’re going to try
and prepare you for the hardest looks. I don’t want to feel good after
Tuesday. You have to feel bad before you can feel good.

“You have to give them the hard stuff so if the hard stuff it’s
in the game, the competitive excellence kicks in. You’ve done that.
We’re going to train our kids so hard that when their number is called
they’ll be able to execute at a high level.”

* Meyer said in doing an OSU game this season he was perplexed to see freshman quarterback Braxton Miller on the sideline and not tuned in to a headphone to hear the play calls or the coaches’ dialogue.

“He’s the future of Ohio State football as the quarterback and
he’s standing there without a headset on,” Meyer said. “During the play,
I caught him a few times not watching the game. You can’t expect a kid
to play at a high level if you just say, ‘Kid, you’re in the game now.’
That’s your fault as a coach if he’s not ready.”

* Meyer said his coaches won’t tell players to not make mistakes.
He wants the guys to give four to six seconds of great effort and give
everything they have and play as hard as they can.

* Meyer lauded former Texas Tech coach and new Washington State
coach Mike Leach as an amazing teacher. He said Leach excels by teaching
the details, even if his version of the spread is not what Meyer
favors.

* Meyer said the OSU staff will work in conjunction with the OHSFCA to produce a weekly newsletter for Ohio’s coaches.

* In closing, he said, “We want to make the state of Ohio even greater.”

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