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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 17, 2015
COACH MEYER: I think probably the best thing, just open it up for questions.
Q. Talk about the transition from this year to next year being a "mass exodus," I think is the word you used, do you have a number in your head the number of juniors that might make the jump?
COACH MEYER: I kind of do but we're just avoiding all that conversation until -- focus is on this Bowl game.
Q. How do you balance winning the game with getting those reps for replacements?
COACH MEYER: The way we break down practice, we always have done this for Bowl games. There's guys that have played darn near a thousand reps this year, so you don't bang too much on them and then there's a group of young players, the Malik Hookers and Isaiah Princes of the world, Jerome Bakers that are going to be heavily counted upon next year.
We'll keep them a little bit after. We'll also extend -- we have an inside drill, for example, I don't mean to bore you, but you asked a question. We'll go five, five with the ones and twos and then you go 15 reps with the threes. You just increase those reps during Bowl practice.
Q. With the success you've had offensively against your rivals with Coach Warner coaching from the press box, do you think that's the way you're going to go moving forward?
COACH MEYER: This game. This game we will.
Q. And do you anticipate any coaching changes on your offensive staff during the off-season?
COACH MEYER: I'm not sure. You know, I think right now, I don't. I'm not in that evaluation phase yet. All focus is on recruiting and winning this game.
Q. You guys, when you got here, set out to keep all of the top talent in the state, and you guys have done a really good job of doing that so far but there's been one program that's been able to come in and take guys from Ohio that you want and that's Notre Dame. Having been an assistant there, can you speak to the importance of the theology and some of the things they have in terms of a presence in some of the Catholic schools that you guys are recruiting?
COACH MEYER: I've recruited for Notre Dame for many years and there is a built-in, especially with a Catholic school, but they have done a good job.
The team up north, I mean, this is Michigan State. There's been some schools and that's been the history as long back as I can remember. You do the best job you can of locking down as many as you can. I think we've done a pretty good job but we can always do better.
Q. With Chris Ash, he's still going to be coaching through the Bowl and he's here preparing for the game and helping the team get ready. What's it like to help prepare the team with him in the day and recruit against him at night?
COACH MEYER: That's a great question. We are -- our class is so, there's only a few spots left. A lot of the recruiting we're doing now is even for, what is it, 2017. I've had Tom Herman and then I have Chris, I remember I had Danny Mullen when he went to Mississippi State and many other ones, I can't remember them all.
But the one thing I always ask, just be extremely professional about your job, do what you've got to do. Because he's the most important person in all of this -- people in all of this are the players. You look at Jerry giving me some of these stats, and we have a chance to win our 50th win in four years. So be very much a professional and he's done that. Chris has been great.
Q. Can you detail your history with Greg Schiano a little bit and how important was it, his NFL background, what does that bring this program?
COACH MEYER: Coach Schiano and I go back many, many years. I first met him when I was at Notre Dame and he was at Chicago Bears. We kind of hit it off. And then our paths started going, I think we became head coaches the same time at a very young, very young age, too young. That was, what, 2001.
We've just always remained in touch and became very close. Always had great respect for -- I'd go visit his programs all the time. He would visit ours. Actually have him say, give me a written-up evaluation on what he saw from when he watched us practice and I would do the same. So that's how much trust I have in him.
Q. What about the NFL?
COACH MEYER: Oh, I think any time you have a guy -- that's the catch name, that's a big part of recruiting, that's a big part of just instantaneous respect. We're reliant, leaning on him quite a bit.
Q. Following up on that, what is the dynamic you expect out of the defensive coaches meeting room over these several weeks with Greg in there I guess now and stuff, and will he actually coach in the Bowl game?
COACH MEYER: No, no, he's not in there now. Luke is a defensive coordinator. Did a heck of a job for us this year, second in the nation in scoring defense. I see Greg, once Chris leaves, assuming a very similar role; that Chris was an impact hire. As you notice, I like to have two people kind of in that room. I don't believe in dictatorships. I believe in teams, teams on staffs, too.
Q. What made that, Chris Ash, Luke Fickell thing work in your mind?
COACH MEYER: Two incredible human beings. Larry Johnson and same with Coach Coombs, just incredible. That's the No. 1 thing when I try to hire someone is I'm looking for chemistry, good people. A guy like Greg Schiano, you have an opportunity to hire him, you have to make it works.
Now what's the dynamics: You have Luke Fickell, one of the best people I've ever come in contact with, a very loyal Ohio State Buckeye, excellent football coach, about as selfless as a guy as I've ever been around, and he does a great job.
I remember several years back, I mean, everywhere I would go, I would just get, why are you doing this with him and I'm thinking, because he's a hell of a coach and a hell of a person. So that's what makes staffs are good people.
Q. Bowling Green, you get your first shot being a head coach. Obviously Brian Kelly, his first job was Grand Valley State as a head coach and moved to Central Michigan. What is it about being in the MAC? Did it allow you to spread your wings and make mistakes and also go after it in your own way? What is it about being in that league?
COACH MEYER: I remember my first press conference, there was two people there. To this day, that's why I thank you guys for coming (Laughter).
But it gave you a chance to -- first of all, the MAC conference is pretty much every team that jogs out of the tunnel is even, because they recruit all -- you look at them, they are all the same body types, the same size. Some guys have a quarterback and that's usually the team that wins, and a good defense.
But I just think it's -- I think everybody, almost everybody should go coach in that conference. I remember helping pushing up our -- you know, so you can take cameras of the practice -- it's much better now, the money is much better in that conference. We had no video coordinator. The video coordinator was a student and would come by the campus, and I'm not kidding you, and he would stand like this at video practice, not, you know, one of those big ones, but the (indicating small camera). So we obviously got some things changed there.
That's why I appreciate guys like Kerry Coombs, too, that worked his way up from ground zero and did a great job at Colerain. I think everyone should go through that process.
Q. Did Brian catch your eye? Did he catch your eye as a coach?
COACH MEYER: Oh, sure, and Cincinnati, because I'm an alum and actually went down and watched him practice a couple times, and what he did at U.C. was phenomenal.
Q. You talk about alignment with the staff all the time. With Greg, do you think it's going to be tougher for him to get on the same page because he comes in with his own book?
COACH MEYER: Well, our books are very similar. Those books -- have many conversations over the years. Once again, the most important element of any hire to me is character and quality of human being, and there's none better.
Q. Can you talk about Notre Dame and what you see in their team?
COACH MEYER: They are an excellent team. A couple first-rounders on defense, probably more than that, very good. You just don't see chunks of yardage. Usually you find a formation, you find a situation, you find a team that had a lot of success, and a very good team.
Offensively, I know -- I haven't studied them a lot yet. Very good offensive line. That's their strength. They have a dynamic receiver. Quarterback does a nice job. He runs as well as throws. You have a team that could be playing for the national title.
Q. Cardale has already suggested that he'll be gone after this year. When you look at his four years, the highs and lows I guess, what do you think, how should he be remembered, if he does end up leaving?
COACH MEYER: Well, he's a national champion. He's undefeated as a starter. It will be a story that many people talk for many years. We do wish him well in his career endeavors. I love Cardale and very much appreciative of everything he's done.
Once again, he's been a national champion and there's only been a few of those. He's one of eight. And I don't imagine there's ever been a quarterback that's undefeated as a starter. That would be a good Jerry Emig question -- maybe Kenny Guiton.
Q. Well, ten or more starts. You have a couple 2-0 guys -- (Laughter).
COACH MEYER: Smooth jazz made its way into our press conference today. (Laughter).
Q. You were asked earlier about changing things up for the last week of the season with your offensive staff and you're going to stick with that for at least one more week. What was the motivation for that and how difficult had the communication been throughout the year as you tried to replace Tom?
COACH MEYER: It was not easy. I think Ed Warner, you can't coach all five guys, and to be able to have significant input in the play calling. You need a stable -- and Tim Beck and him, those were a pretty good setup in the final game.
Q. I think you mentioned how in the playoff era now, there's just such focus on those four teams. Now you guys aren't in the playoff. It's always been an issue when you go into a Bowl and maybe not a National Championship. Will your team be where they need be to be ready to play in this game? Is that a concern at all?
COACH MEYER: Well, there's indicators. I mentioned that through the course of the year, what are indicators of a team that's entitled and what's the indicators of a team when you're a defending national champion, when you're this, this, this. Well, academics and effort and those type of things.
We had a great indicator, and that was we got on buses for three hours, we went up to a team that doesn't necessarily have a lot of affection for Ohio State, and played as hard as we possibly played and won a game against a very good team.
So that's a very good indication of what kind of human beings we have on this team. So I would anticipate that we would play our tails off.
Q. When you look at the season that J.T. had, is still having, did he get better, do you think, this year? He was so good last year and the first time he ever played. Is he a better quarterback now? Did he back up in any way? Is he pretty much the same?
COACH MEYER: I think the way he's finishing, I haven't evaluated that yet. You know, I think his injury did -- sitting him out of spring practice was not J.T. of himself and during the summer. And then obviously the dual situation we were playing with.
I think any time that you are the starting quarterback, like next year he is the starting quarterback, I would anticipate a nice, gradual incline during the season.
Q. How is the health of the team right now? I know that some guys like Parris Campbell were down --
COACH MEYER: Parris is fine. I think we're good.
Q. What does that do for your depth at the defensive line position?
COACH MEYER: Tommy Schutt, also, hurt his foot. I don't know how bad yet. But we've got depth issues inside right now on defense. Mike Hill has been playing pretty good. You have Joel Hale, Donovan Munger. There's another guy in there -- Sprinkle. Sprinkle has actually been playing much better. It will be a rotation. And then Joey Bosa goes in there quite a bit.
Q. What did you say about Tommy Schutt, hit foot?
COACH MEYER: Not quite sure what it is.
Q. I know that on the teleconference, you talked about your experience at Notre Dame. I was asked to ask you this question: Notre Dame spiritually, football-wise, career-wise, what did that whole experience mean to you?
COACH MEYER: Game changer. When Lou Holtz made the call, I was in Fort Collins, Colorado, asked me to join the staff at Notre Dame and that was a game changer. I remember walking through that campus, and probably one of the greatest things that I remember is my son was baptized in the Log Chapel, original building there. Father Reilly (ph) who passed away, was one of my dear, dear friends.
And then also my mom was diagnosed, it was the second or third time that it came back, and I remember going to the Grotto every night for, it had to be four years, on the way home from work. So special place and a special place in my heart.
Q. What do you remember about the recruitment of DeShone Kizer? Were you close to pulling the trigger there?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, real close. I can't remember exactly. I remember Tom was more involved in that. We liked him.
Q. What have you seen from him?
COACH MEYER: A big dude that runs well and throws well. He's done a very nice job for them.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports