Rumors have been circulating seemingly since the day he stepped down from his post with the Florida Gators that Urban Meyer would return to being a college football head coach sooner than later. When Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel resigned on May 30, it appeared as if Meyer’s next destination was a certainty.
Throughout the last six months, Meyer has spent his time working as a college football analyst for ESPN, doing speaking engagements across the country, making appearances and spending time with his family. He has also – on numerous occasions – denied any specific intent on returning to coaching in 2012 though he has admitted more than once that he does miss carrying a whistle.
Over the last few days, however, the murmurs regarding Meyer’s future and Ohio State’s coaching situation have gotten louder. It appears inevitable to many that he will be donning the scarlet and grey sooner than later.
Here’s a look at a timeline of how things have shaken out since Tuesday:
» The New York Times published a story Tuesday noting that Meyer had met with Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne one week ago in Miami, FL to discuss his school’s coaching position. Meyer, according to the story, declined the opportunity but “expressed his desire to return to coaching.”
» Two days later, BuckeyeGrove.com writer Kyle Rowland tweeted the following: “Same plane that came from Gainesville to OSU airport was in Miami when Urban Meyer met with Univ. of Ariz. That meeting took place in Miami.”
» CBS Sports’ NFL insider Mike Freeman then referenced a report he read on Scout.com Thursday, tweeting that “Urban Meyer has agreed to coach OSU for 7 years, $35 million. If true, whoa.”
» After that began to circulate, Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples attempted to set the record straight with a tweet of his own: “Spoke to someone who would know tonight and was told any report of a deal between Urban Meyer and Ohio State is untrue.”
» However, Buckeyes blog Eleven Warriors quickly took to Twitter to divulge what they had uncovered: “We are 99.7% sure Urban Meyer has agreed to a deal to become the next coach of Ohio State. Solid sources. Plural.”
» Shortly after, The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley texted Meyer directly and asked him specifically about the rumor that he had accepted the OSU job. “No truth to it,” Meyer replied via text.
» Meyer’s wife Shelley also made a statement after being contacted by WCJB TV20 and asked if her husband had agreed to coach Ohio State. “No, he did not,” she told the station.
» SPORTSbyBROOKS then posted a full story about the Meyer situation Friday evening, reporting that a “deal between Meyer and Ohio State was consummated in principle earlier this week in Columbus but not signed.”
Brooks goes on to cite specifics of the agreement including a “generous compensation package” and a promise from the school to provide him with the ability to hire the “highest-paid assistant coaching staff in college football history.”
» Saturday morning, Associated Press writer Larry Lage asked Meyer about the deal. He declined comment. He also questioned ESPN analyst Chris Spielman (rumored by Brooks to be a future Meyer assistant) about the situation, and Spielman said there was no deal between Meyer and OSU.
» While doing color commentary for the Michigan-Nebraska game at noon, Meyer addressed the rumors on the air (video): “I know it’s that time of year. I’ve not been offered any job, and I’ve certainly not accepted any job,” he said.
» Minutes later, ESPN.com released its version of Brooks’s story, noting that “Ohio State has been in contact with Urban Meyer about becoming the school’s coach” but “no contract is in place and no announcement likely would be made until after the regular season.”
» UPDATE: Dooley had an extensive conversation with Meyer over the weekend about the rumors that he might return to coaching. Meyer denied reports of interviews with both Arizona and Ohio State but did say he would consider an offer from the latter institution. “I’m in a good place right now mentally and physically. So if something happens with Ohio State, I’ll have a decision to make,” Meyer said. “If there is a decision to be made concerning Ohio State, there will be a lot that will go into it. But right now, there is no decision to be made.”
He also noted that the three reasons he resigned from Florida will have to be taken into consideration before making any move. “The concerns are still there,” Meyer added. “No. 1 – my health. No. 2 – my family. No. 3 – the state of college football. I’ve done some research into the second one. I’ve found that it is possible to have balance between your job and your family, that there are coaches out there who are doing it.”
It is not surprising that Ohio State and Meyer would both want to wait until the end of the 2011 regular season before announcing any type of agreement. Doing so in-season would be disrespectful to both interim head coach Luke Fickell and Meyer’s current employer. That is, of course, unless there truly is nothing to announce, which appears to be less and less likely as things progress regardless of Meyer’s denials.
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