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September 22, 2014

Urban Meyer

COACH MEYER:  Obviously excited to get going after a bye week.  I just wanted to start off by saying for years we have been asked to wear a patch, and I'm not a fan of sticking patches on shoulders, and I found out more and more.  It's Duchenne muscular dystrophy research is why the coaches do this.  And to be honest, I didn't know much about it.  I did it because I was told to do it.  And I have become close with two members of our team, I consider them, Noah and Jacob, who are stricken with this disease, and we love them to death, so we're going to do some special things for those guys this week, and I ask for everybody to get involved.  There are so many great things to get involved in, but this hit home now that I‑‑ I never knew really very much about the disease, and I do now.  I say that, not proud, that I didn't know what it was, but I'm familiar with it because it hit home, hit these two young people that are at our practices almost every day, and they're very close with us.
Wanted to start off by saying that.  We have a tough opponent this week, Cincinnati, a lot of respect for them.  Offensively they've been good in the past; they're exceptional now.  I saw that live firsthand that Friday night when they put 400 plus yards in the air against Toledo, a good team, and they continued this week with another good win against Miami of Ohio.
So we have a lot of respect for their skill.  The one thing that I remember Tommy Tuberville saying is that they're the best group of receivers he's coached, and that struck a chord with me because I know what he's coached, some good teams and good players.
So we have to be at our best Saturday.  Expect us to be that.  With a bye week we practiced Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, last week, back at it today, plus‑one day, and we're ready to go.

Q.  Is this particularly good to have an early bye week, especially when you have a young quarterback like J.T.?  Does this buy him more time or is it better to have a game?
COACH MEYER:  I think that question shows up every time we have a bye week, was this a good week?  I don't know.  It's the earliest we've ever had one.

Q.  Particularly for a first‑time quarterback.
COACH MEYER:  The other thing is you keep playing, because he did get better that week so I don't know.  We got a bye week, we utilized it.  We did a lot different‑‑ we operated a lot differently this bye week than we have in the past.
We practiced a lot of game reps, and it wasn't just for him but it was that offensive line.  We're still trying to finalize the final five or the starting five for the offensive line, and they had to get better, and then obviously on defense we have some new players there as well, so more game reps than we've ever done on a bye week.

Q.  As a follow‑up, Texas, Arizona State, UCLA, Ohio State, you guys are all on back‑up quarterbacks.  Has the importance of having abackup ‑‑ it's always been important, but is it more so because of responsibilities on a backup?
COACH MEYER:  I think it's always been.  You're a shoelace away from that guy going in the game.  We got spoiled here with Kenny Guiton the last couple of years and I'm always‑‑ I'm trying to think through my career, Alex Smith was a backup quarterback, took over, did very well.  Tebow was our backup to Chris Leak; he did very well.  Kenny Guiton was our backup here, so that's always been a concern.  It's probably getting more exposure than it's ever had in the past.

Q.  You mentioned last week you have an obligation to gets the best five offensive linemen on the field.  Have you settled on a starting five for this game?
COACH MEYER:  Well, Jacoby had a high‑ankle sprain.  He should be full go today, so he had limited reps last week.  Pat Elflein was dealing with some feet issues.  Both his ‑‑ he had some arch problems in the summer, and they surfaced a little bit, but he's fine, he's 100%.
The guy that's improved a little bit is Chase Farris, and he's the backup right tackle.  And if he's one of the top 5, then he shouldn't be the backup right tackle, he should be the starting right guard.
We have not made a final decision on that, and I'm not sure we will this game.  I think we're going to play six guys and get some rotation going.

Q.  Good battle between Farris and Price there at right guard?
COACH MEYER:  Farris and Price, yeah, and also Pat Elflein at center.  You got Joel Hale continuing battling.  The guy that's made a big jump start last week was Tony Underwood.  We used him last week when Chad Lindsay stepped away because of injuries.  So it's in flux a little bit, but the positive is there are very capable personnel available to us.

Q.  You spend a lot of time talking about the importance of keeping the top prospects in the state, and conversely when you go out of state and you're recruiting other top prospects in other states, how do you approach that and recruit against other in‑state schools of other programs who want to keep their kids in state?
COACH MEYER:  How do you do it?  You just recruit.  That's the name of the game.  We will always recruit the footprint or the local as hard as we can.  The negative that's happened in recruiting is you're not getting that chance to watch guys develop.  Everybody is committing so early, in the last if I have, six, seven years, I can't stand it.  I like to go watch kids play their senior year, and there is nothing than your first bye week towatch‑‑ we're going to watch juniors now.  We're not watching seniors because they're all committed.  We're down to our last few scholarships for this class, and I can't remember it being like that.  A couple schools would do, but a lot of times you were getting your commitments in Decemberand Jan.  Now it's Decemberand Jan of their junior year, so you're not getting to watch them play their senior year and watch them develop.
To answer your question, in‑state recruiting is primary.  Out of state you kind of cherry pick.  We have great respect for certain states, and we have had success and great ties, Jersey, Georgia, Florida are all the places we have drawn players from, but now all of the sudden now Virginia with Jalyn Holmes.  You just try to go first of all where the best players are and second where you have connections, or where there is an interest and you'll get a Raekwon McMillan or Vonn Bell.

Q.  When you are being recruited by your home state school it's easier to notice that talent.  You mentioned how much quicker things are.  How does that change when you are going out to places like Georgia and Virginia and you are not able to get in when home states are getting them as freshmen and sophomores now?
COACH MEYER:  There is a challenge, but obviously we have done okay with that.
The thing that happens in state is schools are‑‑ there are schools that offer 150 kids, not just in the state of Ohio, but we can't do that because what if they all come?  We got a problem there.  So that's one of the problems in state, where all of the sudden, well this school came and offered me, Coach, why didn't you offer me?  Well, this school came and offered me, Coach, why didn't you offer me?  Well, they've offered 75 other guys, too.  We get in a little bit of a rut, because they'll say, why didn't you offer us, well, we're going to, why don't you let us watch you play, and then we will offer you.  So that's kind of what's going on in the last few years in recruiting.

Q.  Given your background Cincinnati is probably not just another school to you, obviously.  Could you describe the difference between what Cincinnati is now compared to when you went there and when you played them this the bowl game?  Is there an emotional attachment?
COACH MEYER:  Sure, very strong emotional attachment.  My sister is associate provost at Cincinnati.  My other sister was a homecoming queen there.  Obviously my dad, my grandfather just strong history at UC.  Cincinnati has had a similar transformation of the academic reputation Ohio State went through.  When I was there, there was something called "U College" and it was a big state school, and my sister lets me know all that time it's not that way anymore.  It's a high‑end institution, which has always had great reputation, but just administration like Ohio State now.  That would be a great study, what's happened to the two largest in‑state schools, how they've grown as far as admission requirements.
Very similar trajectory as far as we're up to 29, 30 ACT.  I don't know what Cincinnati is but I know they've done very well as well.  So there is a strong tie, a lot of respect, and Cincinnati is a great town, great university.

Q.  In terms of the football program now‑‑
COACH MEYER:  Oh my goodness.  That actually started ‑‑ I was very aware of the transformation actually started with Coach Murphy, who is at Harvard I believe now.  You saw a transformation of the program where they started investing into the facilities and the facility‑‑ when I played there it wasn't very strong, and they made a decision, a commitment, obviously have had great rewards for them.

Q.  Can you talk about your experience playing there?  What the program was like?
COACH MEYER:  Not a lot of experience.  I played professional baseball out of high school, and did that for a couple of years and made a decision to play football.  Cincinnati I probably wasn't a good enough player to go there, but I did play a little bit and went right into coaching right afterwards.  It wasn't a great experience.  We weren't very good, and‑‑ but I still have great friends and good memories from my time there.

Q.  Your decision to hire Kerry Coombs from Cincinnati, what went into that?
COACH MEYER:  A lot of it was Cincinnati, but more it was Kerry Coombs.  I don't want to devalue Kerry.  Kerry is an excellent football coach.  I knew him from his days at Colerain.  For some reason, I remember people ‑‑ because when we were here back in '86‑87, we had Carlos Snow, Greg Frey, Vinnie Clark, there was another player, Jay Cook, so we had‑‑ Tom Lichtenberg recruited Cincinnati, and there was a story that Ohio State couldn't recruit the Cincinnati player, and I was like ‑‑ I got defensive, what are talking about?  We used to always get the best players from Cincinnati, so when I heard that there was a spot open, that was part of the reason.  And I don't want to devalue Kerryas a coach, but Cincinnati recruiting we have done pretty well down.  We hope to continue to do very well, because that's as good a football as there is.

Q.  Urban, there was talk in Cincinnati with the conference changes, membership in recent years.  People see them as looking on the outside in as a Power Five conference.  Do you see Cincinnati football as a Power Five conference?
COACH MEYER:  Absolutely.

Q.  What makes it that?
COACH MEYER:  It's the marketplace, you're talking about TV sets, there is a nice tradition at Cincinnati, and the recent tradition has been real good, too, with what Coach Kelly‑‑ started with Coach‑‑ the coaching tree that has developed in the last 25 years has been pretty remarkable and the success they've had.
I was surprised they weren't invited into a Power Five.  I don't know the whole story.  Is that even the right term, Power Five?  The big five conferences?  I think we certainly respect them as if they are.  We're watching film they're as good as a lot of the other teams that we have gone up against.

Q.  We talked so much about past defense in the off season, three games in now‑‑
COACH MEYER:  Here we go.

Q.  You've evaluated it.  Has it come as far as you wanted it to?  Is it good enough?
COACH MEYER:  The first game was wishbone, second game we played pretty good and I think we held them to 19‑some yards passing, not great and the last game was out of hand real early so this is the test, this is the one that we're all shooting for and they're really good at throwing the ball and it will be a challenge for us.  I can't make that evaluation yet after the first three games.

Q.  And you're playing a very good in‑state Ohio team this week.
COACH MEYER:  Very good.

Q.  When you went to Florida, I'm sure you went there knowing that there were two other national championship caliber programs in that state, in Miami and Florida State.  At Ohio State, Ohio State is that team.  Is there anything different about that coaching here, at a school where it's obviously clear Ohio State is the dominant team in this state versus when you went to Florida there were three teams fighting to be the dominant team?  Does it make anything different whether it's in recruiting, attention, anything at all about the program?
COACH MEYER:  Interesting question.  I'm just trying to think.  At Florida when you walked into a home it was either a "Nole," "Cane" or a "Gator," and you usually look on the wall and figure out where you're at, and you can walk in, how are you today, and they do this (making a motion like a gator's mouth opening and shutting) it would be a good day for you.  You walk in and they do this or that, right away you find out‑‑ I think more here in southern Ohio you will see a lot of UC allegiance.  To say we get into a ton of recruiting battles with them, we have a few, not to the same caliber that we did down there, but as UC continues to elevate their game, which they have done, I can see that happening down the road.

Q.  Just with Noah Spence returning to practice, how do you balance the belief in the good of a kid versus what appears to be multiple violations, zero tolerance issues?  Is there a part of you that says, I don't want to hear any excuses, you're done?  How do you weigh all that?
COACH MEYER:  That's another good question.  He's not going to practice now.  That was just last week.  He's getting full‑time treatment.  He is working out just for his well‑being.  I think that's a good question, when is it zero tolerance.  When a diction is set in, or a decision to harm yourself and harm your teammate, those are things we wrestle with all the time.  I've been criticized for many years about I treat these guys like they're my kid, and I'm not a big fan of dismissal.  I just don't do that very often.  It's gotta be a severe one, where you're hurting someone else.
I am doing the best‑‑ not I, Ohio State University, it's an institution based on educating people so we're doing our very best to‑‑ what the future holds for Noah, I have no idea, but to throw him to the street, I didn't feel like that was appropriate just yet.  And we're going to do the best we can to help a guy that was a Academic All‑Big Ten, good student, great family, that has a problem, and it's our job to help him, and I don't think you will ever see our staff ever do that, say you're out, in that kind of situation.
Unfortunately sometimes it's not our decision.

Q.  Seems like ‑‑ has turned a corner.  How has that happened?
COACH MEYER:  It's been a process.  He has done a nice job.  He was the mistake guy, every third play he would go the wrong way or make a mistake and come up with some excuse.  His maturity, his dad got involved.  I love having conversationswith ‑‑ not the third uncle but with Dad's about what do we need to do to move on.  I think it was very productive.  This is one of those good stories, why is my son not playing, here is why, let's fix it, not, well, we're going to move him out of here so he is reaping the rewards with a combined effort of the his position coach and family and head coach and strength coach, of this is what you need to do, Mike.  And to give him credit, he's done it.

Q.  Were you attempted last fall to put him back out there or‑‑
COACH MEYER:  No, no, he didn't perform well.  We made a decision last year‑‑ it wasn't to save him.  We don't do that.  If he's the best player ‑‑ he wasn't the best player.  We saw some immaturity that he needed to mature, and he showed signs of it, so I know we did the right thing and so does he know we did the right thing.  We just have to‑‑ every day is a new day and he's got to continue that same work ethic that's got him where he is right now.  He's a great story, where you see a kid mature and turn into a young man.

Q.  Urban, Gunner Kiel, what's the first thing that comes to mind?  You got to see him on Friday night.  Is he the kind of guy that stands there and wants to pick you apart?  How would you describe him?
COACH MEYER:  I see a strong guy, he looks big!  Big, strong arms and throws in a‑‑ courageous player that throws into the oncoming pass rush.  Like most really good quarterbacks, he has really good personnel around him, really good.  I see one of the top quarterbacks in the country.

Q.  Last year when things kept getting insane, at least from our vantage point, worse and worse for the pass defense, did it almost drive you crazy?  What was it like dealing with that?  What are the signs that tell you you think you've got it straight?
COACH MEYER:  I think last year when Christian went down, we had a void not just in play‑making ability but leadership, and we didn't have that answer, or the answer is "too young."  Number one is I've pushed our coaches extremely hard to get the young players ready to go, you can see us pushing Raekwon McMillan, and it's not acceptable to have talented young players and say they don't know what that's true doing, teach them what they're doing.  That's number one.  Number two is I feel we're systemic now.  Last year we had errors and we would change week‑to‑week to fix what was a weakness.  We have a system, I like our system right now.  I believe in it.  We need to see it executed this week.  It's more systemic if that makes sense.

Q.  Urban, you did the HBO special.  What prompted you to do that?  What was the decision behind that?  What good comes from that?  Is it just a reminder of what you don't want to be anymore?
COACH MEYER:  Oh, I don't know.  Good question.  I don't know why I did that.  Andrea Kremer is the young lady's name that did that, and we get a lot of phone calls to do this and do this and Trace Armstrong who is a good friend of mine who helps me with some stuff said it's first class, it's a good story for families and people, and it might be good to do it.  I look back now and it was a positive experience.  I don't know why we‑‑ to answer your question, I don't know that.  I can't say hey let's go do this.  It came across my desk and I said, no, of course not, and I got a couple of phone calls that said, yeah it would be good for people to see.  That's why.

Q.  You get a lot of young players especially on the offensive side of the ball playing.  This is the fourth game of the season.  At what point in time is lack of experience no longer a good excuse for the head coach to say‑‑
COACH MEYER:  After week one.  We're not a‑‑ I hope you guys feel we are not a big excuse program.  We're are not a blame‑‑ we don't blame if you hear me say that, I try to never go there.
I warn our staff, I hear that when I say how are our players doing, well, we have a new quarterback‑‑ no you don't.  He's a veteran player now.  We try not to go there.  I don't read and listen to a lot of stuff, but if Jerry says Coach Herman or Coach so and so is making a lot of excuses for lack of experience, then I'll sit with the coach.  I've never really had to do that.  I think those are long gone.  If it's coming, it's certainly not coming from this building I hope, about young players.

Q.  I'm not saying you guys use it, I'm just saying it's real, though.
COACH MEYER:  It's not really anymore.  You played your prime time game, you played wishbone, you played, you know, it's week four.  So as far as I'm concerned it's over after week one.  The offensive line has to perform at a very high level, because that's an Ohio State standard.  The good thing is I never hear that around here.
If that's on the outside it's on the outside.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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