January 20, 2013
Meyer set to get Buckeyes back to the top
Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If there's another current coach in college football who understands the success that Nick Saban is currently enjoying at Alabama, it's Urban Meyer. Winning two national championships in three years at Florida from 2006-08, Meyer had his quest for a third title come up short, thanks to a loss to Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship game, which jump started a run of three national championships in the past four seasons for the Crimson Tide.
Now the head coach of an Ohio State team that just capped off a perfect season in 2012, Meyer finds himself as one of the primary names that people mention when discussing who could bring Saban's reign to an end in 2013, but the Buckeyes' coach has refused to publicly the possibility of a national title run next season.
At least not yet.
"For me to say we have to get there next year, that's like for me to say we have to fly to the moon. We're nowhere near even having that conversation. You know what we really have to do? We have to find out who can play defensive line for us, 'cause we lost some really good players," Meyer said. "There will be a target, and I'm not saying that's a target yet either, 'cause that's not fair. There's some guys that can't do that at their physical stature right now. If they improve, then we'll have that conversation at the appropriate time."
In order to improve, Meyer knows that his second Ohio State team must in a way, mimic the reigning national champions. Having not only faced Alabama in his Florida days, but serving as a guest analyst for the BCS title game, the OSU coach got an up-and-close look at what it is that has made the Crimson Tide so successful recently.
"Probably the best fundamental team that I've certainly seen this year won that game. And that's with leverage, that's with tackling, blocking, tackling, and all the things how you win football games," Meyer said. "Fundamentally, we are not where we need to be."
But while Meyer has been unwilling to publicly discuss potential national title aspirations, that doesn't mean he hasn't thought about it. In fact, Meyer said that chasing those teams at the top is what drives coaches like himself, and it's no secret that the list of college football's elite starts with- but is not limited to- Alabama.
"Twenty-four/seven, every second of our life," the 11-year head coach said when asked how often he thinks about getting the Buckeyes back to the top of the college football world. "There are certain things that coaches really dislike. There's other things that coaches really love and savor, and that's that. There's nothing else I'd rather do than watch these other programs and kind of figure out how are they doing that or how do we get that or how do we beat that.
"Alabama's certainly the national champion, but there's some really good teams out there that do some things that really kind of fit what we do, and we're in the process of doing that right now."
Meyer also admitted to having spent time already in the offseason studying Alabama's lone loss of the 2012 season- a 29-24 defeat at the hands of Texas A&M. The Buckeyes' coach said that if anything, the Crimson Tide's only loss shows just how good they were and what they overcame to win their third title in four seasons.
"A&M beat them. Georgia could have beat them. LSU could have beat them. And they soundly won the national championship," Meyer pointed out. "That tells you a little bit about that conference."
As for how the Buckeyes would fair against Alabama, Meyer stated that he didn't want to get into hypotheticals. But when further pressed on the issue, the second-year Ohio State coach admitted that his team has a lot to prove before it starts discussing a dream matchup with college football's top powerhouse.
"I think we're a very good team that could compete with any team in the country," Meyer said. "To say that we could roll in there and beat a team like (Alabama), first of all, I don't want to speculate, and then if I was going to give you an honest answer right now, I think we have too many holes to fill."
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