COLUMBUS — From the day Urban Meyer was hired as Ohio State ’s football coach, the focus has been on the impact he has had on the Buckeyes’ program.
But Meyer admits running out onto the field for OSU’s eagerly anticipated opener against Miami of Ohio on Saturday will have an impact on him, too.
“I have a few notes I’ll carry with me in folder to keep my face in the game and not worry about when Hang On Sloopy gets played,” Meyer said at his first weekly press conference of the season on Monday.
“It’s real. I have to do that because I’ll be coming out of my shoes a little bit,” he said. “I was 4 years old, maybe 3 ½ when I first saw the Scarlet and Gray play. So it’s going to be an emotional time. Very much so.”
Ohio State , 6-7 a year ago, will be trying to bounce back from its first seven-loss season since 1897 against Miami, which finished 4-8 a year ago. The RedHawks are led by Ada ’s Zac Dysert, a four-year starter at quarterback.
Meyer said he sees a team “chomping at the bit” to play a game when he looks at his team as it heads toward the opener.
“I want to have an angry team, a team with a chip on its shoulder. And at this point, I’d say we have that,” he said.
Much of that anger — which Meyer has used as a motivational tool whenever he can — stems from last year’s record and the beating the Buckeyes took in the court of public opinion.
“They’re not very well thought of. I mean, they lost a lot of games, the most games since the 1800s or something. That’s their legacy,” Meyer said when asked about the source of that anger. “There’s nothing like a group of kids that really want to prove someone wrong or prove something to someone.
“That’s every coach’s dream as opposed to the fat cat who sits back and say, ‘Hey, we’re good. Don’t worry about it,’” he said.
Meyer is associated with change at Ohio State. He is expected to bring a new beginning, a new attitude, a new offense and more.
But, schooled in OSU tradition as a graduate assistant to Earle Bruce in the 1980s, he knows there are some things you don’t mess with.
When asked if he would still award Buckeye leaves helmet stickers to players for good plays in games, he laughed.
“We’ll continue the Buckeye leaves. Can you imagine that (not giving them out)? I’d need security everywhere I went,” Meyer said.
On the day he was hired in November, Meyer said this was what he wanted his players and staff to do:
“Go hard. I want a bunch of coaches who coach like their hair is on fire and I want a football team that gives four to six seconds of relentless effort. You do that and you’ve got a chance to win any game you play.”
The first test of that plan comes on Saturday.