A year ago this week, Urban Meyer was pursuing prospective college football players.
This year, he was just chasing birdies.
That’s the difference between Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and former Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, although not everything has changed.
He is still committed to making sure Buckeye athletes get the most out of the academic experience in Columbus.
“I call myself a player, a student-athlete advocate,” Meyer told reporters at Muirfield Golf Club on Wednesday after playing in the pro-am preceding the annual Memorial Tournament in the Columbus suburb of Dublin. “That all started when my daughter got recruited. That’s when real life started. A degree is an expectation, it’s not the final piece to the puzzle. That’s where (Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith) and I are in complete agreement and it’s been tremendous.”
During his seven years as the coach of the Buckeyes, Meyer instituted several practices for connecting his players with potential future employers outside the sports world.
The most visible is “Real Life Wednesdays,” an activity that he said has been expanded beyond the football team to the entire athletics department now that Meyer has shifted into an assistant athletic director role.
“Our job is to get them a career and not just a degree and push them out the door,” he said.
Meyer said he is handling retirement, which began Jan. 2 after the Buckeyes beat Washington in the Rose Bowl, well and praised both Smith and new coach Ryan Day, his hand-picked successor.
“I’ve got the best A.D. you cant be around, so it’s great,” Meyer said.
He first called the new football coach “Ryan” before rethinking how he should refer to him.
“Ryan has been — Coach Day has been awesome. We talk frequently. They’ve got a good team, good people. The best things too is Ryan’s got the infrastructure still. I love those guys and talk to them all the time.”
Aside from his new job in the department of athletics, Meyer said he is looking forward to joining the new Fox Sports college football pregame show slated to begin this fall.
The cast also includes former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn and former USC Trojans Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.
“I talk with that group of people all the time,” Meyer said.
As for the experience of playing in his first Memorial Pro-Am (on the golf course where he lives), Meyer was all smiles.
“Keegan Bradley was very patient with us today,” he said, referring to the PGA Tour member he and two other amateurs were teamed with. “It was awesome. Fans were incredible. Muirfield has been a dream of mine since I first saw it in 1986.”
Of course he had kind words for tournament host and former Buckeye Jack Nicklaus as well as Nationwide Hospital, the tournament’s presenting sponsor.
“Jack Nicklaus and Nationwide and the Muirfield people — if there’s a better tournament, better people than this, I’m not sure I’ve ever met people like this,” Meyer said.