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November 19, 2012

Urban Meyer

COACH MEYER:  Thanks for coming today.  A couple comments about last week's game, as, obviously, a hard fought game, tough environment against a very good team that we have a lot of respect for, really, really good football players.
After talking to our guys, we even have a greater respect for that running back and some very, very good players in a great environment.
Obviously, big week this week.¬† I'll give you our Champions.¬† On offense‑‑ excuse me.¬† On defense, we'll start with, C.J. Barnett, played his best game of the year:¬† 18 production points, graded out 95 percent, very high.
Ryan Shazier continues to extremely impress with his production:  11 tackles, 2 assists, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 hurries, 1 PBU and 2 forced fumbles.  38 production points, which is incredible.
Zach Boren graded out 86 percent.¬† One of the great stories, in my mind, in college football and certainly in Ohio State history.¬† What he's done, the selfless approach is‑‑ I know I can only speak on, I guess, our coaching staff and myself, but the selfless approach and what he would do for this team is extraordinary.¬† Incredible human being and a great game.
Christian Bryant graded out 92 percent.¬† He missed some practice with some injury time‑‑ with a slight injury last week but came back and played very well.
Orhian Johnson graded out 88 percent, was also our special teams player of the week.  I made a comment to him I wish we had him for another year because he is really, really coming on as a football player.  I'm not sure he knows how good he could be. 
Our player of the game is the heart and soul of our program, John Simon, 6 tackles, 4 assists, 4 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 1 hurry‑up, 1 PBU, again, extremely high number of production points, 36 production points.¬† Arguably, our best effort on defense against a very good offensive team that was kind of coming into their own going into that game.
On offense, we didn't play very well.  Philly brown graded out at Champion.  Evan Spencer graded out at Champion.  And our offensive player of the week was Carlos Hyde, who played very hard, played very well.
And once again, our special teams player of the week was Orhian Johnson.¬† Orhian Johnson, I thought, obviously special teams played a pivotal role, as it does when your talent is somewhat equal.¬† And Philly Brown's punt return was‑‑ Taylor Rice, Evan Spencer.¬† Who else did a great job there?¬† Incredible.¬† Stu Smith.¬† Really, that was as fine a job on a punt return as I can ever remember seeing, as far as hats on hats and ridiculous effort running down the field.¬† That was obviously‑‑ Luke Roberts did a nice job as well.
That's it.  I'll answer questions for you.

Q.¬† Can you talk about just the Ohio State‑Michigan growing up and also kind of what happened when you got on Earl's staff and how Earl influenced you, how you feel about this now being with Ohio State.
COACH MEYER:  We can talk about this game now.  We talked about it as a team a little bit.  We talked about it during training camp just to remember.  Obviously, you walk through the facility, and there's all kinds of tribute to this game, but this is all I knew growing up.  It's all anybody knew.  In the era when I grew up, there really wasn't much other than three channels on your television and this game.  It was Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes, Pete Johnson, Archie Griffin.  That's all.
I remember the games.  I remember it coming down the pipe.  I remember everybody talking about it.  So it's incredible memories growing up.
And then when I was hired by Earl Bruce, obviously, his passion for this game and understanding of this game was intense.¬† I remember that very well.¬† So it's a‑‑ when I put the staff together, I wanted to make sure that everybody for me to have to sit there and teach people about it.¬† This rivalry game wasn't something I was really into.¬† I wanted people that had‑‑ I wanted this to be close to home, and it is for eight of our nine, and we're educating our one ninth guy that's fairly important too.¬† That's Everett Withers.

Q.  You've been in a lot of heated rivalries.  In the game like this, is there any kind of advantage for, oh, I don't know, the team that's maybe not undefeated or that's not as highly ranked just because it's a bigger target?
COACH MEYER:¬† I think the saying that‑‑ and I used to‑‑ everybody talks about rivalry games, and we used to, when I was Toledo, or that school up north when I was at Bowling Green, there was a team down south at BYU, and this was the team out west at Florida.¬† We used to do all kinds of neat things for rivalry games.
Once the cell phone started to become popular and blogs and all that, we had to stop because you just don't want to make headlines with putting stuff around.¬† So we just kind of‑‑ just a little commentary on rivalry games.
But I think the old adage about you can throw it out the window, I think this is just a pure, intense rivalry.  It doesn't matter who's undefeated, who's fighting for what, who's playing for what.  Luke Fickell tells me the story they had a couple times where it was just stolen from them.  I don't believe it's because they're undefeated.  I just believe it's because the rivalry game is that intense.

Q.  Could you also talk a little bitabout Denard Robinson isn't going to play at quarterback, it doesn't look like, but the mere fact he's still part of this game and how you have to approach him.
COACH MEYER:  I just met with the defensive staff because I haven't watched him.  I do that tonight and tomorrow.  I know Denard.  I recruited him.  I have great respect for him as a person and as an athlete.  He's one of the finest athlete ins America, so you'd better know where he's at at every snap.
I think he'll probably be able to throw that ball well enough out of some‑‑ I know they have something waiting.¬† So we have to be ready for it.

Q.  No matter the record and the circumstances, this game always defines Ohio State's season to some degree.  Given that this is the last game in the undefeated season, does it define it more than usual?  How much more will it define you this season?
COACH MEYER:  I don't know.  We just talked about winning this game.  We're not talking about what everybody is going to think a week from now, two weeks from now.  Our kids are focused in.
Right here is the team meeting room, and it's electric in here when you start talking about this game.  Where we're at right now.  Will we be defined by this one game?  You usually are.  Regardless of what happens, this is the game.  Our kids know that.  Our coaches know that, but that doesn't change anything we do.

Q.  And just for you, how soon after what was obviously a dramatic win did your thoughts immediately switch to this game?
COACH MEYER:  Shaking hands and into the locker room.  It probably happened even a little bit prior to the game because you just know it's coming down the pipe.

Q.  I got several, but I'll just ask one right now, Urban.  Greg Mattison on the other side of you.  Having familiarity with guys and him having familiarity with you, how does this sort of enhance it and sort of make it an intriguing matchup in some respects?
COACH MEYER:  He was the first phone call I made when I got the job at University of Florida to find out if he'd go with me.  We lived next to each other at Notre Dame for a long time.  I know he's a great recruiter.  We recruited together for many, many years.  I've just got a lot of respect for him as a coach.
That enhances it a little bit, but once again, it's about players.  Probably the way it enhanced it, I know we've spent a lot of time now having conversations about how they'll play us, and that's probably the only thing that really matters now.

Q.  Having had an unbeaten record once before at Utah, what is the truth you've learned about perfection in college football, about getting there to the end with a zero on the end?
COACH MEYER:¬† You saw last week at Kansas State and Oregon that it's hard to do.¬† It's a credit to a bunch of players and assistant coaches that keep that focus because, I mean, once the noise, people call it, the stuff‑‑ I mean, just because you can control‑‑ the greatest thing that I like to do is get them here because I can control them.
Once you leave here, who knows what's being said?  Who knows, when you start talking about the end of the season, agents and who's coming out, who's doing this, what about this, you're not getting the ball enough.  Am I going to transfer?  All the nonsense that goes towards end of the year.
I'm sure that's what happened in some of those programs.  Plus they played good teams.  It's such a credit to this team to be in the position they're in.  It's hard.  It's real hard.

Q.  You referenced on some occasions the rough spring that Reid Fragel had and the transition he was making.  Do you wonder now what he could have become at tackle if he'd been dedicated to that throughout his career?
COACH MEYER:  A little bit.  I'm just pleased with where he is.  I'm sure he'd be the first one to tell you at the end of the season, we want to show a little spring practice film, he wasn't going to be the right tackle.  We didn't have any other choices other than a true freshman.
I kind of, in my own mind, made the decision he wouldn't be playing right tackle for us, and then obviously, with Coach Warriner and him and Kurt Barton, who did a heck of a job developing him too, but obviously it falls on the kid.¬† I mean, he did a great job.¬† To think he's played 11 games on an offense that's ranked ninth in the country, a rushing offense, that's‑‑ I would have argued‑‑ I would have said that won't happen.

Q.¬† Another senior that you talked a lot about, you called John Simon the heart and soul.¬† When did you realize‑‑
COACH MEYER:  Pretty quick.

Q.  What Simon stood for?
COACH MEYER:¬† Pretty quick.¬† Mickey and I both‑‑ you heard from other people, and we hit it off right away.¬† He's here‑‑ he wakes up in the morning and comes over here, and he's just here every second of the day.¬† You really get to know a guy. ¬†He's from Youngstown.¬† We're from near the same area.¬† I know his high school.¬† I know his high school coaches.¬† I know everybody in that area real well.¬† So it didn't take me long to find out who he is.
But I like to develop my own opinion.  You meet his family.  You meet him.  You meet his girlfriend.  My son had a baseball game over the summer, and he came and sat with his girlfriend, sat with me for a bunch of hours and watched baseball.  So that just tells you what he's all about.  The best.  He's the best.

Q.  From your own experiences using two quarterbacks, Urban, do you get a feel for what Michigan is going through now?  Especially two guys that are such polar opposites.
COACH MEYER:  I don't know if they're that opposite.  I think they're both very good athletes.  I thought Denard could throw, maybe not as good as Gardner can.  Is that what you're talking about?
Once again, I guess I'm not equipped to answer that yet.  I haven't studied enough.  Luke Fickell and those guys, when you talk to them, will.  I don't think they're that dissimilar.  Like Tebow and Chris Leak were just completely different players.  You had two different packages.  I don't think they're going to have very different packages for them.

Q.  Perhaps you and Coach Fickell as well, can you talk about using both of them on the field together, with Denard as running back.
COACH MEYER:¬† Yeah, I saw it last week with the handoff to him and then he pitched the ball.¬† I just know something's coming.¬† You just know something's coming.¬† It's a question of what‑‑ I'm going to try to help them because I've been in those situations where you can utilize two skill sets.

Q.  Urban, 25th anniversary of '87 game and your direct involvement in this.  Did the win under those circumstances kind of heighten your appreciation even further for this game?
COACH MEYER:  Great memories.  I can tell you everything.  I can tell you walking into Coach Bruce's office right here, this facility just opened, and Rick Bay was leaned up against the wall and looked at me and said, close the door.  Are you the last one?  I said, yes, yes, sir.  And I sat down.
I saw a bunch of coaches with their arms on the table, with their face in their arms, and tears and the whole deal.  I was like the last guy to walk in, and he said that Coach Bruce will no longer be the coach after this game, and I have resigned as athletic director, like it was right there, right out that door.
I have great respect‑‑ I knew Mr. Bay very well and have great respect for him.¬† Just an incredible moment in Ohio State history.

Q.¬† Urban, one of the things that traditionally has been done here with head coaches, they maybe take a moment‑‑ maybe when you were a GA here‑‑ take a moment out of practices and call it a Michigan period to prepare all year long.¬† Did you‑‑ have you borrowed moments like that throughout the year to stock information away, maybe looking with your players?
COACH MEYER:  No one's had greater success than Jim Tressel, and I have members of my staff that were on his staff.  So I did some research, and obviously it's our program, but once again, I'm going to utilize anything I can.  So we had a couple of those that you're talking about that I learned from the previous coaches that coached here.  So we did that during training camp.

Q.  Coach, from the outside, your program looks pretty intense, pretty competitive every day from day one.  Do you ramp that up at all this week?  Can you ramp it up at all this week?

Q.  How do you do that?
COACH MEYER:¬† I think‑‑ I just think the constant‑‑ there's stuff, reminders all over this facility about what's going on.¬† That ought to be‑‑ that ought to enhance the competitive spirit as opposed to you're playing a team that's just another team on the schedule.¬† Which, as a coach, that's where you need the‑‑ all the motivational techniques.¬† I don't want to say throwing Gatorade bottles against the windows or getting things going.¬† It's not against this one.
The pregame speech isn't going to get these kids fired up to play this game.  That's where a lot of people get confused, saying, hey, what are you going to do special for this week?  We've got to get really good at offense, defense, and kicking.  That's what we're going to do special.  It's not going to be a whole bunch of conversation because it is what it is.
We have more conversation about games that aren't quite as appealing because you're dealing with the competitive spirit of kids.¬† If we have to motivate them for this one, we wouldn't be 11‑0.

Q.  Do you have a Senior Tackle this week?
COACH MEYER:  Yes, we're going to have it Thursday night.  It's one of the greatest traditions.  I learned it here.  I've done it every place I've ever been because I learned it here.  It's one of the great traditions to send off a young man to represent his last practice as a Buckeye.

Q.¬† Has there been a moment since you got the job when somebody drove this rivalry home to you, whether a text, an e‑mail, a phone call, an old lady on the street?¬† Was Brady trying to whup you?
COACH MEYER:¬† An 82‑year‑old‑‑ I think he's 82 now, Coach Bruce that reminds me.¬† I get one of these almost every day when I see him.¬† I got one yesterday, and it almost hit me.¬† It's good.¬† It's a reminder.

Q.¬† What's your main memory of‑‑ is it Earle going off on the shoulders of his players?¬† Will he speak at the Senior Tackle?
COACH MEYER:  He's going to speak.  We're still working out.  He will.  I'm not going to have many speakers because I'm very cautious.  He certainly will be one of the guys that will talk.
The great memories, I was here when Harbaugh guaranteed the win.¬† We missed‑‑ Matt Frantz missed the field goal.¬† I love Matt.¬† It was a great game.¬† Vince Workman took‑‑ I can go through the whole game if you want.¬† Cris Carter's great catch in the right side of the end zone.¬† 29 tackles, Jamie Morris.

Q.  When they carried Earle off the field, what did you think? 
COACH MEYER:  Yeah, I remember.  I didn't know that was happening.  I was up in the press box for that game.  I remember looking down, thinking what are they wearing?  They wore the red shoes because it's the same shoes they wore in the Texas A&M win the prior year.  I think that's one of the great memories that I have of my time here.

Q.  You mentioned earlier you've been through a lot of rivalries and a lot of places.  They all have passion.  They all have emotion.  What is absolutely, positively unique about this one?
COACH MEYER:¬† I think every person regionally‑‑ you know, regionally, I imagine UCLA‑USC or Alabama‑Auburn or Florida‑Georgia, everybody has their‑‑ this is home.¬† If you ask me what makes it unique is the fact that I grew up in this state, and this is all I knew.¬† If you're in the State of Ohio, this is all you know growing up.¬† That's what makes it so unique.
Then also I think‑‑ I think the Bo Schembechler/Woody Hayes era, when college football began to explode on a national level, that's what made this such a visual, visual rivalry for the country to see.

Q.  One other thing.  I know this isn't on your radar screen this week especially.  Do you have any thoughts on Maryland joining this conference?
COACH MEYER:¬† No.¬† I just‑‑ gene approached me‑‑ I think it was yesterday.¬† It was the first time I even heard about it.¬† I looked at him and said what?¬† I think it's supposed to happen here‑‑ they're voting or something.

Q.  They voted.
COACH MEYER:  Are they in?

Q.  Yeah.  Rutgers tomorrow.
COACH MEYER:  Is that right?

Q.  Boomer's eligibility is up.

Q.  You mentioned John Simon and talked about him.  But the senior class as a whole, how important is they been to this season and also establishing what you're trying to establish going forward?  Is it bittersweet for you that this is it?
COACH MEYER:  It's tough.  It's tough.  I usually get emotional talking about those guys.
Those kids could have all went wherever they wanted to go.  I still remember that day when we walked in, and he said, you're not going to a bowl game.  I thought, we're not what?  And then my mind started thinking about this year's team.  Those seniors, if I remember right, if I read the rules right, they can pick up and go without punishment.
So I called a team meeting.  Within 15 minutes, we had one.  I kept the seniors after.  I had no idea who they were, and they didn't know me, so it was a leap of faith.  I think it was also the love for their school.
When you look at these kids, now that I know them, I know exactly why they stayed, for the love of Ohio State.  It's really cool in this day and age to witness that.  We're forever indebted to them because they didn't have to do what they did.  I should say that because they certainly didn't know Urban Meyer or this coaching staff a thing.  Their love of this university was very apparent that day.

Q.  Urban, what's your relationship with Brady Hoke?  Did you cross paths with him much over the years at different stops?
COACH MEYER:  Not much.  Greg Mattison was probably our relationship, that I knew Greg and Greg was very close with Brady.  I think we had dinner twice or something like that.  Other than that, not much.

Q.¬† You mentioned Bo and Woody and what they did in the ten‑year war for this rivalry.¬† Here you are in your first year, Brady Hoke in his second year.¬† He seems to get the tradition of the game and everything at Michigan the same way you get it here.¬† What do you think it means when you have two coaches like that who not only are having success but are so invested in the history of the rivalry as well, that both you guys grew up with this?
COACH MEYER:  I think that's when you start using the term like war, all due respect.  This is not war, it's a game, but it's a very intense game when this is home.
He's born in the State of Ohio, which I still don't get‑‑ that's another story.¬† But I guess it adds to the intensity, to answer your question, rather obviously, and I think when you're talking about it's close to home, it adds to the fuel, fuel to the fire.

Q.  Urban, are you at all concerned about the pressure of this league being that it's Senior Day, it's the Michigan game, a chance to go undefeated, and an outside chance of an AP National Championship?
COACH MEYER:  I'm concerned, but the good thing is I've been coaching for a while now, and nothing you can control other than getting ready to go play the game.  So I think you learn that along the journey.  I think, if it was the first rodeo and all that, I'd be worried about this, worried about that.  We're going to have a really, really hard practice tomorrow, and that's going to take care of all worrying about those other things.
So I am concerned, but you've got to move forward and do the best you can.

Q.  Looking back to last week's game and the way Wisconsin was able to slow down your offense, a lot of teams try and copy things that were successful.  What did you see on film as to why they were successful in slowing down Braxton?
COACH MEYER:  It was bad.  We didn't play very well, and we didn't coach very well.  We could have done much better.
We were in a bad field position game the entire second half.¬† Started the game great.¬† I mean, we had a ten‑play drive, eight‑play drive, eight‑play drive, plus field position, doing great, and then just backed up.¬† Then we kind of tightened down a little bit because we figured a turnover would lose that game.
Our defense was playing good.¬† Obviously, I've got to take responsibility because Tom and I called that game, and it was not the‑‑ we want to open this thing up.¬† We have to against this team we're playing.¬† We have to open this offense up and trust that good things are going to happen.¬† That's what happened.
But you figure our starting field position was just awful.¬† It was like, for some reason, I felt that student body was chasing us around.¬† Every time we took a snap, the student body‑‑ other than overtime when we moved it down to the other side.

Q.  One of the newer traditions since the '90s for this team has been the former players, the tunnel of pride.  Is that something you guys are going to bring back and endorse?
COACH MEYER:¬† Absolutely.¬† I don't know much about it other than you just‑‑ I heard about it before and absolutely.

Q.  Archie Griffin started it in '95.
COACH MEYER:  Who did?

Q.  Archie Griffin, that guy, '95.  When they played Notre Dame, and he's done it for Michigan every time since.
COACH MEYER:  Great.  We certainly will continue that.

Q.  Urban, this game also culminates quite a year for yourself, going back to last November when you lost your father and decided to take this job.  Just kind of reflect on what has this year been like for you personally, and what have you learned about yourself as a coach and as a player this past year?  Not as a player, obviously, but as a person.
COACH MEYER:¬† Well, I certainly learned more from‑‑ I think, when you mention our senior class, I learned a tremendous amount from them, just the way they handle themselves through‑‑ you figure what these guys have been through.¬† Talk about Zach Boren.¬† You want someone to write a book on‑‑ wow, that would be good if you go write a book on Zach Boren.
That's what I learned.  I'm always trying to learn from people.  I learned from our coaching staff.  But I learned from the senior class of John Simon, who hasn't been healthy all year and fighting through it.  Zach Boren on a Tuesday before Indiana steps in and plays.  Four periods later, 20 minutes later he's a starting linebacker, middle linebacker at Ohio State.
I haven't had much chance to reflect because I want to put these guys in position to go win a starting game, so there hasn't been a whole lot of reflection.  But very appreciative of where I'm at and who I'm doing it with.
Thank you, guys.

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