The Ohio State Buckeyes held a press conference Monday evening to announce that Urban Meyer would take over as head coach following the team’s bowl game this year.
Meyer, who signed a six-year, $24 million contract on Monday, will also receive “supplemental compensation bonuses based on achieving certain milestones including academic accomplishments for the football program, and retention payments of $450,000, $750,000 and $1.2 million if [he] is still employed as head coach on January 31, 2014, January 31, 2016 and January 31 2018, respectively.”
“I am deeply honored and humbled to lead the Ohio State University football program,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to come back to my home state where I was born and where I grew up, where I went to school and met my wife.”
While answering questions during the announcement, Meyer explained that he did not plan on returning to coaching so soon and made an exception for Ohio State that he likely would not have made if any other program came calling for his services.
“If not for the coaching position at Ohio State, I would not have coached this year,” he said. “A year ago, in my mind, I was convinced I was done coaching.”
He also spoke about his health, one of the main reasons he cited for stepping away from the Florida Gators following the 2010 season.
“Health-wise I feel great,” Meyer said. “I had a health scare a couple of years ago that made me sit back, reflect. I didn’t feel right. But I feel fantastic now.”
Meyer did not mention Florida by name until he was more than nine minutes into the press conference. When he did, he lauded his former school, calling coaching at the University of Florida an unparalleled experience.
“My six years at Florida, Florida was my dream job,” he said. “Everybody says: ‘Is Ohio State your dream job?’ That’s a term that’s thrown around really loosely. To say I as this big and wanted to coach at Florida. No, I’m not from Florida. The way Coach [Steve] Spurrier and the way I really became a huge fan, I wanted to coach there.
“I will always be a Gator, will always be a part of that situation. Jeremy Foley, had a great conversation with him today and yesterday. Bernie Machen, the president down there, is one of my great friends. However, this is my home state, and it’s great to be back home.”
Meyer also called his initial staff at Florida in 2005 “the best coaching staff, group of assistant coaches maybe in college football history” and blamed his “pursuit of perfection” with the Gators as the reason he fell victim to increased stress in his final two years at the helm. “I’ve been to a place I’m not going to go back [to],” he said.
He also maintained that the “state of college football” was another reason he chose to step down following the 2010 season but that he has learned to stop trying to fix major NCAA, agent or drug issues and instead “keep it in center field.”
Addressing Florida’s well-publicized arrest record under his watch, Meyer explained that the majority of players who were in trouble at UF was exaggerated.
“Sometimes you’re in a college town where things get – anything – all of a sudden it’s on the front page of the paper. So the issues we had – I see numbers of arrests and the numbers I see are exaggerated. I know what we’ve had to deal with. If we had one, that’s too many,” he said. “Our job as a coaching staff is to mentor, to discipline and to educate young people. And we’ve had a pretty good track record.
“We ran some bumps in the road at the University of Florida. Does that mean we had bad kids? I’ll fight that forever. No, absolutely not, we did not have bad guys. Did they make stupid mistakes? Yeah, I’ve made a few stupid mistakes [too].”
Meyer said that the Buckeyes did not make initial contact with him until Nov. 20, and the two sides did not meet in person until Nov. 23. He received a formal offer from Ohio State on Sunday and signed the contract Monday morning.
As part of his annual salary, Meyer will receive $700,000 in base compensation, $1.85 million in media, promotions and public relations monies, $1.4 million from apparel/shoe/equipment monies, $40,000 contributed to his retirement and $10,000 for a paid Coca-Cola appearance. Other off-field bonuses can be earned for the team’s yearly academic progress rate and graduation success rate.
He can earn $50,000 for winning the Big Ten Leaders Division, $100,000 plus an additional contract year for each Big Ten Championship Game victory, $150,000 for a BCS bowl game appearance, and $250,000 for a BCS National Championship Game appearance.
Meyer will also receive a $1,200/month stipend for automobile costs, a full golf membership, use of the school private jet (including 35 hours of personal use per year) and 12 tickets to each game among other benefits.
He will not coach Ohio State during their bowl game in January but will begin recruiting for the Buckeyes and assembling a coaching staff immediately.
Reports are that he has already hired Florida director of football administration Mark Pantoni away from the Gators and may make overtures to linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti as well.
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