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December 30, 2015
THE MODERATOR: We'll start today with some opening comments from Coach Meyer. After that, we'll take questions from the media.
COACH MEYER: Thank you very much. On behalf of a team I'm very proud of, a team, a group of seniors that you'll meet in a little bit, that have won 49 games in the last four years, obviously won a national championship, then found a way to persevere and make our way to an incredible bowl game, the Fiesta Bowl.
We're honored to be here to represent the Big Ten Conference and the Ohio State University in a great bowl game.
It's going to be a great bowl game. Two traditional powers, Notre Dame and Ohio State, that are a couple plays away from playing for a national championship. There is no place better than to play it here than in Glendale. We look forward to the game.
I'll answer any questions for you.
Q. You're 9-2 in bowl games, 42-3 when you have more than a week to prepare. What do you have cooked up this week for Notre Dame?
COACH MEYER: Well, I think you know the way the season went, we got hit with a bat in the second to the last game against a very good team and lost. I made the comment at a banquet the other night, the older I get, when I was a younger coach, you try to learn, you're the teacher. What I found out, the older I get you learn more and more from quality players.
The week leading up to our rival game, it was a tough week, one of the most difficult weeks I've ever been a part of. A bunch of players that I love, a bunch of players that were so invested, had winning streaks all over the place, and to fail. Then we have to get ready in a short turnaround during Thanksgiving week for a very good rival team, that, obviously, at Ohio State, that's the game of the year.
It made a sudden turn. The reason I'm telling you this is to give you a little background on our team. Not that we practiced necessarily well, but we have something called, 'Senior Tackle,' that's been around for many, many years, decades, at Ohio State. The group of seniors that got up, opened their hearts to the rest of their teammates, to their coaches, that's when the whole thing turned around.
I don't want to brag about anybody, but my left tackle, Taylor Decker, made a comment to this day, coaches are supposed to be the teachers, the players are the teachers. The real invested players are the teachers. I'll never forget this for the rest of my life is when he turned, his father was there, he said, I just want to thank you, thank Ohio State, thank my teammates. All I ever wanted to do was make my dad proud. Turned around and said that to him.
That's when I felt a shot of energy go through me, our team, then obviously the way they performed on the road against a very good rival team shows you. I anticipate this team, because of those players, to play very well and play very hard.
Q. You've had some distractions this year. Do you think you've overcome them well?
COACH MEYER: Every team has distractions. We had distractions last year. I think we've overcome our distractions very well. We lost a game on a last-second field goal. We did have some distractions.
I can't say enough about this group of players, especially the ones you'll see here today, a lot of us spent two, three, some four years together. The respect and admiration I have for those guys.
Taylor, Jacoby Boren, some of those guys that came with us, Josh Perry, our first year, that was a team that lost seven games, a team in disarray, a team that was told they couldn't go to a bowl game. Here we are four years later. I'd say we've overcome a lot of distractions very well.
Q. Checkup on your situation at defensive tackle, the way those guys have emerged in those roles.
COACH MEYER: Good weeks of practice. Mike Hill is in there. You'll have Joel Hale, Tracy Sprinkle, you have Donovan Munger rotate. Obviously Joey Bosa will play some on inside. Have had good weeks of practice. We're ready to go.
Q. The president of West Virginia, I was speaking with him about hiring you a few years ago. What role did he play, as opposed to the AD, bringing you out of retirement?
COACH MEYER: Gordon Gee, that's one of my favorite people I've ever been around. West Virginia is fortunate to have him as a president. He's a dear friend. We speak frequently. I remember every word he said, all our conversations.
His passion for a student at a university is second to none. I love Gordon Gee. I miss him. Like I said, the people of West Virginia are very fortunate to have him.
Q. We were talking to Brian Kelly about Chip Kelly being fired. You've been pretty resolute in not a lot of interest in that league. Is there a little chip in the back of your head that says, How would I do there? Why don't college coaches by and large succeed there?
COACH MEYER: Great questions.
I was reached out to, asked if I would be interested, and I'm not.
Q. The Browns?
COACH MEYER: I'm not going there. I'll just say I was reached out.
I really enjoy where I'm coaching and who I'm coaching. At this point, my son's in high school. We're where we need to be. I really love my athletic director. I think the future's bright. We're recruiting well. I'm very happy with where we're at.
The NFL, Chip Kelly is one of my closest friends, Greg Schiano is one of my closest friends.
A lot of times they say college coaches don't make it very well. I don't know who makes it well. People are getting fired left and right. Pete Carroll has done very well.
So I don't know. I do get those questions sometimes. I don't study it enough. I know that it's not just college coaches that are struggling in the NFL.
Q. Kelly said it's important to be able to control the entire product, and you can do that in college. When you get there, maybe you don't control everything. Is that part of it?
COACH MEYER: I think so. The research I've done is that is a big part of it. Obviously Bill Belichick is a close friend. He probably has the model program, not probably, but the model franchise. The relationship between the personnel and the head coach, the alignment. You're talking to a guy that's not done a lot of research. But I've been there and talked to Bill Belichick many times. To me, those are the programs that seem to be very strong.
Q. What does this senior class mean to you? They have a chance to do something very special.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I didn't realize this until Jerry told me. If they win this game, it's the most successful year in college football history. For Darron Lee or Vonn Bell, I'm not sure they understand what history means. History for them is the last 15, 20 years.
To be able to say it's the most successful run in four years in college football history, I know for this old guy that means a lot.
Q. That's more than motivation.
COACH MEYER: Think about where it was. Lost seven games. No one's fault. Suspensions. It was just seven games. Then to start off, we lose to Miami, Ohio 7-0 after that first quarter, have to go deep in the third quarter to beat Alabama Birmingham. Certainly wasn't because of bad players or coaches. Football teams are complicated machines. A lot of moving parts.
Q. Do you value the stability of college coaching, not only for yourself, but for family?
COACH MEYER: I've never really thought about it that far. I think in college nowadays the stability is not quite what it was either, with this whole playoffs, 'win now.'
I've learned to put my head down and go as hard as you possibly can, do the best job you can for the school you're at.
Q. Do you think because of what's been achieved here at Ohio State, is this your best coaching job?
COACH MEYER: Oh, I don't know. Somewhere down the road you sit and reflect. When I saw those numbers, it makes you take a deep breath because of the respect I have for college football, all these great coaches and players.
When you say, Find a way to win this game to get your 50th win, and that's one year without a bowl game that's a astonishing.
Q. How influential were those years coaching at Notre Dame? How big was that for you?
COACH MEYER: 'Big' is not a strong-enough word. Momentous. When I got the phone call from Lou Holtz, to this day I'm extremely close with Bob Davie, the group of coaches I got to work with. That was my first real taste of big-time college football.
So Notre Dame had a big part of it. Notre Dame does it right. Notre Dame is good people. Great to see Missy Conboy, Mr. Swarbrick, all the people I got to know over the years.
Q. It was a big deal for you to leave.
COACH MEYER: I turned it down the first time. I lost my mom right around that time, too, so that was horrible, just an excruciating time.
We had it going at Notre Dame. That was the year we came out here and actually played in the bowl game. I loved Notre Dame and I loved Bob Davie.
I looked at my wife and said, What do you think? We prayed upon it, thought about it, ended up doing it. It was hard to leave.
Q. (Question regarding Cincinnati.)
COACH MEYER: I was in town to see my dad. My dad's health was failing. Brian Kelly has been so good for me. He invited me to practice. I was a Bearcat.
We talked the other night. The stressors are still there. Some guys handle it better than others. I think he handles it very well. He was one of the guys I sought out to go talk about it. Bob Stoops. It's not one of my strengths, to let things go. But I have a lot of respect for Coach Kelly. We've always got along very well.
Q. What did you learn from him that you've tried to put in practice now? He says you seem more as ease, for lack of a better term.
COACH MEYER: I learned quite a bit from him. I think the message is really all the same. Coach Stoops kind of gave me that look like, Hey, do the best you can, that's it.
My issue has always been can I let go of what happened. To say I'm much better, I am a little bit better, but not much better (smiling).
Q. What were your biggest takeaways visiting Coach Kelly in 2011?
COACH MEYER: Just the improvements they made at the university. Notre Dame, when I was there, I mean, the facilities, it wasn't good. I was astonished when I first went there. Then how the vision has really increased, I was very impressed.
Q. Has your son been able to hit a curve ball?
COACH MEYER: Oh, wow. Yeah, my son, the little guy that you knew, is now a sophomore in high school. Started as a freshman in varsity. He's doing pretty good hitting curve balls.
That's where in the off-season I've learned to taper things down, where in the old days, I did not at all.
Q. When you make the decisions for family, how important has that always been for your kids, your daughter playing volleyball, your son playing baseball?
COACH MEYER: Great questions. I grew up in a family where my mom and dad didn't miss anything. It tears you apart. That's why in the off-season I don't really speak. That ship sailed. Sometimes people get upset, Why don't you do this? Why don't you do that?
My whole off-season is committed obviously to my job, but my family, ahead of speaking, those types of things.
Coach Krzyzewski, he said to me, If it doesn't help your staff, your family, your recruiting, don't do it. There's great charities, that's a whole different animal. But you also owe that to your family. I really took that to heart.
Q. With all the time you spent with Coach Kelly, what does it mean to be going head-to-head with him?
COACH MEYER: It means a lot, Notre Dame, a place I love, a coach that I have admiration for. Flip on the film, damn good players all over the place. They should be playing for it all. And in a bowl game, I can't have favorites, but this is one of them.
Obviously this is where we were meant to be. It's going to be a great challenge. His teams are well-coached in all phases.
Q. Do you see a difference in the talent level? Difficult for you to get players back then. That was a struggle for Lou.
COACH MEYER: I think Notre Dame is as talented as any team in the country, yeah.
Q. This is an NFL Combine on Friday. Dazzling array of talent on both sides of the ball. Would you agree?
COACH MEYER: I do agree. I did get asked earlier about other schools. I don't know other schools. I know ours and the team we're playing. There's going to be a lot of guys playing football on Sundays.
Q. Two favorite teams growing up, here you are coaching, you're right in the middle.
COACH MEYER: Am I going to take time to smile?
Q. Just to appreciate the moment.
COACH MEYER: Of course I do appreciate the moment. You're right, these are the two schools when I was that big, the Fighting Irish and the Ohio State Buckeyes. We all know, Just win the damn game. You want a real smile, win the damn game.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports