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Urban Meyer will be remembered as a coach who returned Ohio State to college football's elite.

Urban Meyer has already secured his Ohio State legacy

Ryan Ginn

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Let’s start with the only bit of bad news for Ohio State fans when it comes to speculation about how long Urban Meyer might coach the Buckeyes: I still think he’s probably not going to coach as long as Nick Saban, who is 66 years old and inexplicably seems to be growing stronger with each passing year. The good news, though, is I used to think Meyer might not coach at Ohio State longer than seven or eight years and it seems he’ll easily eclipse that.

In fact, Ohio State just survived a big milestone. If Meyer had any reason to want to move on, the youngest Meyer child’s high school graduation in 2018 would have removed a big reason to stay. Instead, Meyer signed a contract extension through 2022 in April. I think at the very least he’ll coach through that season, at which point he’ll be nearing 60 and better able to evaluate how long he wants to do this.

As for his legacy, I think his place among the all-time greats in the sport is already secure. I personally think he could end up doing more for Ohio State than Woody Hayes did, but I can understand if fans make it about national championships. The reality of the situation, though, is that he happens to be coaching in the same era as Saban, who has a strong argument as the best to ever do it in college football. That type of context is important.

Here is my argument for Meyer as someone who could go down as Ohio State’s best football coach, with the caveat that I think it’s virtually impossible to compare eras and there may be no “right” answer between him and Hayes when it’s all said and done.

  • Meyer came in and immediately made Ohio State a top-3 program in the country. He went undefeated in his first season and won a national championship in his third.
  • He helped elevate Ohio State to a different caliber program than it was under Tressel. Ohio State was making BCS title games, but two of those showed the Buckeyes weren’t on the same level as some of those SEC teams at the time. I also believe it’s currently harder to win national championships than it has ever been. The amount of talent in the sport is outrageous, and Alabama is assembling a machine of coaching talent never before seen.
  • Ohio State has been a national championship contender in EVERY season under Meyer. His worst season was either the two-loss end to 2013 or this past season, when the Buckeyes went 11-2, won a Big Ten title and the Cotton Bowl. That’s the floor. Two losses.
  • He has won more than 90 percent of his games at Ohio State. Hayes won at around a 75-percent clip.
  • No losses against Michigan. He is turning Michigan’s anointed savior into the Maize and Blue John Cooper. That counts for something, right?
  • His recruiting has helped elevate the Buckeyes to this level. The past two recruiting classes have been the two best in the history of recruiting rankings in terms of average player rating.

So let’s see what Meyer does with the talent he has now. If he wins another national championship or two, the argument gets even stronger. But he’s winning more games in an era where it’s even harder to do so — at least in my opinion. Getting Ohio State to a level where the worst-case scenario is two losses is an outrageous achievement that deserves strong consideration as the best in program history. Enjoy it while he’s here, because this is an amazing era to be a Buckeye fan.

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