COLUMBUS, Ohio ― Urban Meyer perhaps has never looked more comfortable, confident or commanding at Ohio State.
So, it’s a safe bet that he was going to want a contract extension all on his own terms, with or without any prodding from negative recruiters.
There is no reason to leave a dream job that he absolutely has rolling on the heels of a Big Ten championship and a record-setting recruiting class. His family is thriving and growing, with life as a grandfather suiting him probably better than Meyer ever could have imagined. And reading between the hints and smirks, it seems pretty clear that he knows just how much potential he has returning for the Buckeyes this season even at this early stage.
All of that would have given him a reason to ask Gene Smith for a couple of more years tacked on to his contract. But the business side of the game can’t be ignored entirely, and it turns out that Meyer might have needed an extension as much as he might have wanted one.
The whisperers were out in full force during the most recent cycle, planting more rumors that Meyer wouldn’t be around for much longer. His contract had dwindled down to three years remaining, which from Ohio State’s perspective automatically meant it was time to sit down and talk about Meyer’s contract but still cracked open the door for speculation outside of the program.
“Urban has always had for some reason that rumor that he wasn’t going to coach long,” Smith said. “I don’t understand that. … But once we got south of that four years, it’s typical. I don’t care where you are, that issue is going to come up about, ‘He’s not going to be there when you’re a senior.’ Right, it’s simple, that’s the way it’s always been.
“When that came up, I knew it was going to come up, so it was just a matter of getting it done.”
That paperwork isn’t complete yet, but for Meyer to publicly bring it up himself should tell you that it’s a mere formality at this point.
Heading into his seventh season with the Buckeyes, Meyer is clearly on the same page with Smith when it comes to their missions with the program. Meyer is getting everything he could ask for when it comes to salary pools for assistants, support from the administration and facility upgrades, so it should come as no surprise that Smith already was aware of what else he would need in terms of a reworked contract.
In turn, Meyer has given Ohio State a national championship, another shiny Big Ten trophy and a football program that has done plenty off the field in terms of grade point averages and internships around the country to make an athletic director happy.
If anything, the negative recruiters might only have added to Meyer’s longevity, thanks to his legendary competitiveness that hasn’t aged a day. The competition reportedly can thank Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and a few others for that.
“I don’t know where that [speculation] is coming from,” Meyer said. “That’s never come from me, and we’re going to sign an extension here soon because the university has been good enough to extend something to me. And so I think that that’s all down-the-road news, but I plan on [being at Ohio State].
“I feel great. For someone to bring that up in recruiting, I don’t, but that’s easy to fight against because it’s not true. How many more years are you going to coach and all that? I feel fantastic. The program’s healthy, and we’re going to get some more years put on my contract.”
That probably is not going to end the debates about just how long the Buckeyes will have Meyer patrolling the sideline in the Horseshoe, but it feels as if he has earned a break from the questions for at least a couple of years.
For somebody so intensely private about his plans to come out and announce his own extension should be the strongest signal yet that Meyer isn’t going away anytime soon.