The past few months have been rocky for Ohio State and Urban Meyer. Around this time last year we learned that due to a lack to player control (players selling team memorabilia in exchange for tattoos), Ohio State was forced to vacate wins from the 2010 season. Also, beloved head coach Jim Tressel, one of the schools winningest coaches, was forced to resign after knowingly withholding information about his players’ violations.
Due to the abrupt departure of Tressel, Luke Fickell took over as the interim head coach for the Buckeyes until they could find a permanent replacement (Meyer). With Fickell as a quick fix for the troubled program, Ohio State went 6-7, the first losing season for the Buckeyes since 1988.
After taking control, Urban Meyer is expected to clean up the program off the field, and lead the team back to success on the field. Which task will be toughest?
It’s sad to say, but Meyer’s most pressing issue is to make his team winners off the field, not on it. Despite their disappointing record last year, they obviously have plenty of talent that will make them strong on the field with Meyer as coach.
The real issue for the Buckeyes is whether or not Meyer can keep his players out of trouble. Not only is he inheriting a troubled team, but Meyer also has a history of being a loose disciplinarian. While he was coach at Florida, over 30 players were arrested. Is Meyer the right guy to take over a team that already had behavioral problems prior to his arrival?
Before he has even coached a game, there have been three high-profile arrests of football players in the last month. Tight end Jake Stoneburner and offensive tackle Jack Mewhort were arrested and charged after urinating outside of a restaurant and running from the police, and in the most recent case linebacker Storm Klein was arrested Friday and charged with assault and domestic violence.
With these arrests, however, Meyer has demonstrated that he can properly discipline players if he wants to. After the arrests of Stoneburner and Mewhort, both players were stripped of their scholarships. And Klein has been dismissed from the football team.
Although Urban Meyer has properly responded to the troubles of players thus far, the key will be continuing to hand out proper punishments to eventually prevent players from getting into trouble in the first place.
Since Ohio State is Ohio State, Meyer will have talent to work with on the field. But success on the field is dependent on whether or not the talented players are eligible to play. Eligibility is something Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes will have to continue to work on in the future.