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December 2, 2018

Urban Meyer

Columbus, Ohio

URBAN MEYER: Hi guys. Thanks for coming. A couple of comments about last night and the great news we just got. We're going to go to the Rose Bowl. Hard to say I've ever been more proud of a group of players and people -- not just players, but people, the way they demonstrated their resilience and toughness and love for one another.

I sent them a group text this morning, I look forward to seeing them again. That was obviously a lot of respect for our opponent because, boy, do they play, and we knew that they would. It's hard to get space against them, but I felt Ryan Day and our staff and obviously Dwayne and those receivers created space. Defensively, we gave up -- you know, that third quarter was not good, but at times we had to make a play, and we did.

So very proud of our guys, back-to-back Big Ten champs, the respect we have for this conference. We wake up every day going to work with going to Indy, and then when we get to Indy, find a way to win it, and they did it, and I'm very proud of them.

Q. You guys have been through a lot this year. You win your conference. You beat your rival, and then you go to the Rose Bowl. I'm wondering, with all the great things that have happened, what is your perspective on what the expectations are? What is the feeling in the locker room? Are you happy about what happened today?
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, they were great. I know I am. I know our staff is. But the people who count, I want to make sure they are. There's so much pressure nowadays -- I remember when I was in Florida, we lost the SEC Championship, and our consolation was going to the Sugar Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl is the SEC's Rose Bowl, and 13-1 record, and you just start thinking, my goodness.

And here we are 12-1, and we all saw what happened this morning. I think the committee -- obviously, Gene's on that committee, and there's some great people on that committee. That was a tough job now. Those are three really good teams. I haven't really watched them, but I started watching some highlights, and they're really good teams. We're one of those great teams that obviously didn't make it, but it's a tough decision to make.

So I'm going to do the best I can, which is to make sure this is an extremely positive experience because you're Big Ten champs. They're going to get a big old ring. Terry McLaurin is the ring chairman. He's already told me he's going to make it as big as he possibly can. I'd rather it be smaller, but it's going to be a big one, and I'll make sure they enjoy it.

Q. Urban, what is your standard for this program? If people want to talk about this is a successful season, does this team need to make a playoff for you to be happy with where you're going?
URBAN MEYER: That's a great question.

Q. Everybody has a different take on it. Rose Bowl used to be the ultimate prize here. You guys didn't make the ultimate prize this year. I'm just wondering from your perspective and the program you've built, what is your standard for a successful season?
URBAN MEYER: Jerry and I were talking, and it's been 12, 12, 14, 12, 11, 12, 12 -- those are the wins we've had here the last seven years. It hasn't been perfect, but it's been pretty darn good. I never want -- the people who count are those guys who do the work. Who cares about the coaches? What we care os about the players. Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon came back for a few reasons. One was a chance to go win the Big Ten Championship and play for the National Championship, and I don't want to devalue what we just did. We won the Big Ten Championship.

Q. Coach, I know that you used Bowl preparation as a time for self-scouting. In a year like this year, which is as odd as it was in so many ways, is that process going to be more or less valuable than usual?
URBAN MEYER: I don't know. Once again, this is all just real fresh right now. We got in at almost 4:00 in the morning, popped up, watched the show, and got in here. I'm looking at the Bowl schedule. As we normally do, there's going to be some transition with the players moving on, and offensive linemen, we lose three. We're going to see how many -- we lose three top receivers, and then there's always that NFL stuff that happens. So I don't know yet. This is all too fresh right now.

Q. Do you think the Rose Bowl matters as much to people of the age of Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin, as it does to people my age?
URBAN MEYER: I don't know. I guess I'll find it. Paris and those guys, yes, I already talked to them. But to like Jeffrey Okudah, Baron Browning, and those guys from Texas, maybe it won't. I hope it does because my understanding is it's the greatest Bowl of them all is what many people who have been there have told me.

Q. Urban, I don't know, have you had a chance to debrief, or will you debrief with Gene over how things went? Will he reveal that to you?
URBAN MEYER: We usually meet tomorrow, and then obviously recruiting. He's been on the committee, so I don't see much of him.

Q. I mean about the committee and how it went down this morning.
URBAN MEYER: I think I know how it goes down. Plus he was recused -- is that the right word? He was not allowed to be in some of those meetings. But I'm sure he'll share some of that with me.

Q. In looking at the results, the only thing that seems like you can point to is a bad loss. It kind of changes every year. It's a moving target almost, it seems like. Where do you stand on the weighting a bad loss versus a really good win and where that should come down?
URBAN MEYER: My father taught me never let your -- put your family, your career, your life in the hands of other people. When you lose a game, it's in the hands of other people. It's very simple, don't lose. And three teams didn't lose, so those conversations aren't having them. That's kind of the way I looked at them and that's the way I looked at life. At a young age, I was taught that. Handle yourself, take care of your business.

And the thing you can't do is stand up here in front of a microphone and start criticizing the committee. We're not going to do that. First of all, that devalues what our team just did, and it certainly devalues the opportunity to go represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. So that conversation is going to be quick and move on.

Q. Along those lines, with winning a Big Ten Championship, that's your goal, it's hard to do. Should there be a reward for that? Do you think that there's any sort of change that needs to be made now that this has happened to you two years in a row?
URBAN MEYER: We were the beneficiary of it twice. I sat in a different chair this morning, so I sat in the same one '14, '16, and then I sat in the same one in '17, and it didn't work. So I moved, and it didn't work. So I've got to find a new chair, I guess.

I don't know, Austin. I think college football is pretty popular right now. I think -- the only thing I would say is sometimes I see the criteria, and the criteria is not fitting what's happening. But I'm certainly not being critical of the people doing their jobs.

Q. When you guys left last night, the celebration was just like you'd accomplished a major goal, you checked it off. Did you feel good about the chances of going forward? What were your thoughts as you guys came back last night about getting in?
URBAN MEYER: The locker room was fantastic, by the way. The players really enjoyed that win, and the hard fought battle -- they love going to Indy, they love getting rings, and they love being second year back-to-back Big Ten champions. I was worried when I saw that Oklahoma -- I understood Texas ran a kickoff back and there was a penalty or something. Someone texted me. I didn't see it. But after the game, when I saw the score, they beat a pretty good Texas team.

Q. Urban, you were 8 through 12 years old when Ohio State went to the Rose Bowl four years in a row. I think those were your very impressionable years. What do you recall of that and how much the Rose Bowl meant back then. They've only been back three times in the last three decades.
URBAN MEYER: It's unbelievable. I remember watching the Rose Bowl and watching the Rose Bowl Parade, and Woody Hayes and the great players of the Buckeyes going out there. I can't remember, was it USC every one of those years?

Q. UCLA one year.
URBAN MEYER: I got that visual, USC and Ohio State playing in the Rose Bowl as a kid growing up, and I'm sure everybody in Ohio does.

Q. Did you look forward to possibly one day being part of that?
URBAN MEYER: I dreamt of it. We came close a few times. I know Florida one time I thought we were close to going. Then here in '14 I thought we were going. There was one other time that I thought we were going, and we didn't. And no disrespect to the other Bowl games, because they're awesome, but the Rose is the one we've always looked forward to.

Q. Dwayne Haskins Jr., does he deserve to be in New York?
URBAN MEYER: He'll be in New York.

Q. As you look back on it now, what jumps out to you about his performance?
URBAN MEYER: That's one of the best performances in the last two weeks in college football history. I've been lucky. I've been there with Alex Smith. I've been there with Tebow three times. I kind of thought the other guys should have had a chance. I don't know why they cut that list. Usually they brought five guys. J.T., I thought should have went. Braxton Miller one year, I thought should have went. That's such an incredible experience for those players to bring them.

But he's going one way or the other. I'll fly him there myself. The way he plays and his stats against those other quarterbacks, he's got to go to New York. I don't know if he'll win it. I don't know who's making those decisions.

Q. Urban, I think you're uniquely positioned to talk about this idea. I know it's hard, but in the three years you guys haven't made the playoff, you were No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7, like you're right there every time, right? Just the idea of the teams you had those years -- this is one of those years -- do you think it would make sense to expand the playoff at all because you know these teams? Did you think, hey, this team is worthy of being able to compete for a title. Let's go to more than four.
URBAN MEYER: Maybe the best one of all those teams was that '15 team. That was a last second field goal in a rain storm, and we didn't play particularly well that day, and we were kept out and beat a good Notre Dame team in the Fiesta Bowl.

I think you've just got to look at the whole model will change, the whole college football model will change completely if you did that, if you start adding games, just because of the student-athlete welfare, because these are powerful, tough games you're going into. At first, I said no, then we finished 5, 6, or whatever it was, and then we're out.

So I think the ongoing conversation, but you'll change the entire model of college sports, college football if you add games because now you're getting into class schedules, conference championships. Someone made a point to me about there should be more of a systematic way of setting the schedule, who you play, whether it's eight conference games, nine conference games, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I think those will be more -- I'm sure that's going to generate a lot of conversation amongst the athletic directors and commissioners.

Q. And on the topic of Dwayne, now that you're at this point, you have one more game left, I know you've had some good throwers before, but what you guys did -- we've asked you about this before. What this offense did, what Dwayne did, how you guys did it this year, did it change your view of offense? Did it change your idea of, going forward, how you think the best way is to play offense in college football?
URBAN MEYER: I want to give Ryan Day the due, what he's done, and Kevin Wilson and that offensive staff. I thought we kind of hit the wall when you have -- when you can't run the ball, you're going to lose. At some point, you're going to lose, and I don't care who you are. That will never change. In 100 years, they'll still be talking about this, saying you have to run the ball. You have to stop the run. In college football, you have to do that.

We reached a point we're really struggling down in the red zone because we couldn't run the ball. What happens in the pro style offense in college, because there's usually not enough great throwers in college, there's always going to be an extra guy there. What college adapted to is the read concept, it's called spread offense. When you take that element out of it, it gets really, really hard unless you're throwing the ball every down.

Has it changed my view? It has, but I still believe in balance. Alex Smith was our quarterback, and he wasn't a guy that we tried to run too often. Chris Leak, we won a national title with. I don't know if we ever really ran him, other than scrambling. And then Cardale Jones, we tried to run him a few times, didn't look very good. Now, he scrambled, it was outstanding. So that will never change my opinion, as well as if you have a quarterback not willing to go get the first down, but our quarterback's not like that. Dwayne has done a phenomenal job growing up and accepting that category.

How do you measure a quarterback? Obviously, wins. But can he get and will he get the first down for you? Once you get one first down, then you go and get the next one. That's the way we look at offensive football.

Q. Urban, is it surprising to you that Georgia with two losses was ranked ahead of you guys having only one loss in the playoff rankings.
URBAN MEYER: I don't know enough about it. I just sat there on the couch, on the chair and watched it. I was a little surprised, but I think from what I saw they're a heck of a team. Like I said, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Ohio State are three great teams.

Q. So this is the second year you've been in this position where you win the Big Ten Championship, think you might have a chance, don't get in the next day. Does this feel any different than it felt last year?
URBAN MEYER: I actually thought we were in last year. I didn't really think that this year. I'd hoped, but I really thought we were going to go to the playoff last year. This year, just when I saw Oklahoma win over a very good team, I thought it's going to be hard to jump them.

Q. You said you were worried when you saw the Oklahoma score. Was there any thought about the game, if we do a 59-0-ish kind of thing, does it change anything in the way you approached the game last night?
URBAN MEYER: It crosses your mind, but the team we played doesn't really let you do that. When those kind of things happen is some big man coverage game and a risky defense, where you see things and you know you can expose things. This defense just doesn't -- I thought -- it was hard to believe that we threw for that many yards on this defense because they don't do that.

You look at their scores, and they don't have big scores against them because they just played a lot of zone coverage, keep the ball in front of them, and they want to play in a shoebox with you. I thought our coaches did a really good job of exposing or getting some space.

Q. When you just overall think of what this team has been through with you not being here for some of it and the adversity, losing Nick, and yet not playing to the potential that I'm sure you thought they had, when you kind of sum up the whole year to this point, how do you view this season?
URBAN MEYER: There's a board. I think Coach Tressel started it, right across from my office. It's the great teams in Ohio State history is what it is. I put the '12 team on there, the 12-0, obviously the '14 team. I put last year's team on there, Big Ten champs. And if we find a way to win this Rose Bowl, I'm going to put that on there. 13-1, if we can find a way to beat Washington, 13-1 team, back-to-back Big Ten champs -- the damage, when Nick Bosa went down, that changed our team, and I didn't realize how much until witnessing the change made. It changed everybody not seeing him.

I know he's a great player, but he was so much more than that. Nick Bosa was your rock, man. He was your guy. He was your guy at practice, he was Coach Marotti's guy. I know, if I feel that way about him, imagine what the defense felt about him and the team. So his injury was -- and then you lose Austin Mack and Demetrius Knox, those are major injuries for us.

Q. One last question about Dwayne. Obviously, this is first year starting, and conceivably the Rose Bowl could be his last game. Do you have any thoughts about his future beyond this year and whether he'll return?
URBAN MEYER: I do. I'm not going to really share them because I haven't had a chance to gather my thoughts, and that wouldn't be fair to Dwayne or his family or really for me. Once again, 12 hours ago we were rolling in on a bus, but there will be that conversation.

Q. Coach, I don't think it's come up yet, the team you're playing, Washington, Coach Peterson. What do you know about Coach Peterson? He did a great job at Boise and has now won two Pac-12s, I think, at Washington. The quarterback is similar to the guy you just played, 52 straight starts. I don't know, just your overall thoughts on Washington.
URBAN MEYER: I've known Coach Peterson forever. I knew him way back when he was at assistant at Boise. We're very, very good friends. Our families are very close. I haven't talked to him. I'm sure I'll talk to him today or tomorrow.

I don't really know -- I know him, and I know his style of play. Obviously, from everything I'm hearing, they're one of the top defenses in America, so we get to see that again. But I'm sure it will be a fight. Great team, obviously Pac-12 champs. Great coach, great players.

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