With another college football season about to begin, it’s time to clean out the notebook again with some thoughts on stories permeating the sports universe:
- Will Urban Meyer coach again? An ESPN story this week about Meyer's life after football encapsulates the situation pretty well with new reporting to update where things stand on the verge of a new season beginning.
- The bottom line to me is Meyer physically can do everything a coach does except handle the biggest moments in a game, and he decided (quite understandably) he can’t coach if that is the case. As a result, Ohio State basically created a new job that lets him do all the things a coach does except coach on game days, this time on a university-wide scale.
- That probably won’t completely fill the void, but that is common for passionate people retiring from any field. More importantly, he truly might not have an alternative unless he decides to have another surgery or tolerate debilitating headaches. That’s a decision he already faced in December and how we got here.
- Ironically, the No. 1 thing keeping this story alive (other than the laziness of national columnists like Pat Forde) is Meyer and Gene Smith arguably being too honest about the way they view the situation, no doubt because the internet (strangely) hates one changing their mind or going back on a previous statement more than anything else a person can do. By leaving the door open 1/100th of an inch in the same way they can’t guarantee they won’t get struck by lighting or eaten by a shark, they also give license to people to speculate about when he will take the USC job.
- What is going to happen? Taking everything at face value is probably the smart play here. Meyer wants to coach but he feels he can’t. End of story? Probably. He’s got a much better post-football setup professionally than last time he retired, and his personal life is in a different place since he is older and has grandkids. Of course he can video chat with them from California, but that’s still one more variable that works against him returning again. Many commentators probably disregard how much Ohio State really is a different place than any other for Meyer, who also has a special place in his heart for Notre Dame but likely knows winning there is too hard to bother trying at this point in his life.
- But, hey, if Meyer comes back, more power to him. He won a national title at Ohio State and left it in better shape than he found it, both in the sense that he kept NCAA issues from derailing the program and upgraded recruiting from great to elite. He also improved the S&C, which waned in the later years under Jim Tressel, and as much as Tressel was known for developing the man as much as the football players, Meyer took the off-field support network to another level with things like Real Life Wednesdays. While Florida fans felt he left their program broken, that is certainly not the case in Columbus.
- Michael Jordan being in the Bengals’ starting lineup but Billy Price not is interesting for sure. Even though he was only a fourth-round pick, Jordan is almost certainly more talented than the other competitors at guard, so putting him in there and letting him take his lumps is probably for the best. Price wasn’t healthy in the preseason, which likely played a role in his losing the starting center job to Trey Hopkins, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Price is a better prospect at guard than center anyway because of his athleticism. I think that’s also true of Jordan.
- A fun controversy broke over the weekend when Ohio State announced, not coincidentally on a Friday afternoon to minimize the response, it is going to have a DJ play songs before and (worse) during the game. This, which likely means even further de-emphasizing the band during the game, seems like a phenomenally dumb idea that will make the generally bad game-day atmosphere at Ohio Stadium worse, which also explains why people in the athletics department support it.
- Some will say traditionalists who want things to stay the same on game day forever need to get with the times, and those people are, of course, wrong. I mean maybe not 100 percent wrong, but it is way below 50. Riddle me this: What is the ratio of people who go to the game wanting to hear the band play during stoppages vs. people who won’t go because the band is less involved? And then what is the ratio of people who are more likely to go because there is piped-in music (or a DJ) vs. less likely to go?
- People arguing in bad faith because they like it will suggest the DJ is, like piping in music during games, something that will appeal to recruits. As Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade pointed out, the recruiting angle is bogus, as is the case with alternate uniforms. Might the DJ catch the ear of some talented teenagers and increase their enjoyment of the game? Sure. Will it actually be a significant factor in their decision? Of course not. Players pick schools primarily based on relationships with the coaches and teammates, style of play and potential to get to the NFL. They also tend to like playing in front of loud crowds that are actually into the game rather than sitting on their hands waiting for cues from the P.A. or scoreboard.
- My only take (I’m pretty sure) on Andrew Luck retiring at 29 is probably more guys are going to retire in the range of 29-31 than they used to, and that’s fine both for them because that’s what they want to do and for the game because there are at least twice as many potential pro football players out there than there are roster spots at this time. Luck’s decision is personal and judging him for it is dumb, but it is fair to criticize him for leaving the Colts in the lurch by retiring at this time in the year.
- With the rise in salaries it’s more likely more players make enough money to feel comfortable (not only for them but those who likely depend on them) at a younger age and decided they’ve had enough. Good for them! That is healthier for everyone than having guys hang on for an extra five years strictly to make more money and then have to live with the results the rest of their lives. I still think it will be a small percentage of players overall who make this decision because I’m guessing the majority of players still enjoy playing, at least for the money. That a noteworthy percentage of players play more for the money by the time they reach the top level is not news.
- That said, there is nothing wrong with lacking sympathy for someone who quits their job because they don’t enjoy it anymore. That reminds me of a line from the Drew Carey Show: “Oh, you don’t like your job? There’s a club for that. It’s called, “Everyone! We meet at the bar.”
“Random Thoughts” was a semi-regular feature here at the blog. I’ve decided to rebrand it as “Marcus Musings” because it more often was topical sports thoughts than, well, random thoughts as originally intended.
While most of my other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Twitter or Facebook.
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