One day after again assuring the public his health is not an issue, Urban Meyer opened up on the topic.
The Ohio State football coach told the Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland.com and LettermanRow.com the headaches from an arachnoid cyst have returned over the past two years.
He would have preferred to keep that private, but doing so became impractical over the past month.
Beginning with a moment late in an Oct. 6 win over Indiana in which a surge of pain temporarily debilitated him, Meyer has displayed symptoms of someone who is not quite right physically.
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He said Monday he appreciated the concern of fans about his being seen rubbing his temples and seeming distressed at times during games and press conferences but insisted he was fine.
A day later, Meyer still said he hasn’t been impacted in daily life by his condition, but admitted “when it flares up, it’s intense, over the top. Just severe headaches. Severe.”
He also provided the publications with a statement from Dr. Andrew Thomas indicating that while surgery was performed four years ago to reduce the size of the cyst, it had enlarged again and was causing “aggressive headaches” over the past two years.
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Apparently a third week of inquiries about his health, a report of “friction” between Meyer and his bosses as well as generally baseless speculation about the possibility he might soon retire prompted Meyer to say more on the topic.
“I’m getting peppered with all these questions about my relationship with the administration and all this stuff — this has absolutely nothing to do with that,” Meyer told reporters. “This is something I’m dealing with, and that’s why I’m talking about it. It’s unrelated to anything else. I am fully committed to Ohio State and the football program for as long as I can, as long as my health allows.”
Meyer has known about the cyst since 1998 when he was an assistant at Notre Dame.
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He disclosed it to Sports Illustrated when he was still coach at Florida in 2010, at which time the Palm Beach Post reported, “fortunately for University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer and for the millions of others who have arachnoid cysts, the condition is not life-threatening.”
Neurosurgeon Robert Brodner told the paper an arachnoid cyst is “a benign cyst on the membrane tissue that covers the brain. They occur congenitally in about 5 to 6 percent of the population — with the vast majority being asymptomatic.”
Cysts can be removed surgically (depending on their exact location) or reduced via a procedure, but the absorption of spinal fluid can lead to them re-enlarging in the latter case.
Meyer might eventually need another surgery to reduce the cyst, but he said he does not at this time.
That leaves him to deal with the symptoms as best he can.
“This is about the truth, avoiding speculation,” Meyer told reporters. “When I get those questions: Why do you look like that? Why are you hurting? What’s that pain on your face? I’m fine, guys.
“I’m just managing my way through it and we’re working hard.”
Players Get Clean Bill of Health
Earlier in the day, Meyer spoke on the Big Ten coaches teleconference about not his health but of several key players.
Wayne High School graduate Robert Landers is among a handful who hobbled through, couldn’t finish or missed an Oct. 20 loss at Purdue but are expected to be back in action this weekend against Nebraska.
“B.B. (Landers) has not been the same,” Meyer said of the junior defensive tackle. “He had injuries all along this fall. He’s one of our better players as well, but he’s full speed now. He’s bringing that same energy he does when he’s healthy.”
Cornerbacks Damon Arnette, who missed the Purdue game, and Jeffrey Okudah, who was hurt in West Lafayette, are both also ready to go, as is reserve receiver C.J. Saunders.
Meyer also said left tackle Thayer Munford, who has been dealing with a hip injury, is feeling better after having a chance get some rest during the week off.