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January 4, 2013

Meyer not interested in the NFL

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With Oregon's Chip Kelly, Penn State's Bill O'Brien, and Alabama's Nick Saban each being rumored to fill NFL head coaching vacancies in the past week, curious Ohio State fans have been left wondering if Urban Meyer would ever consider a jump to the ranks of professional football. But after the second-year Buckeyes head coach appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday, those OSU fans know that they can rest easy.

The 11-year college head coach told Patrick that he's never even received a job offer from an NFL franchise, although he did admit to receiving some interest from a few professional teams following his undefeated season at Utah in 2004 and first of two national championships at Florida in 2006.

"I got a couple phone calls early in my Florida days asking if I'd be interested. I love college football and I made that decision that that's where I wanted to be," Meyer said. "There was a time where I made some phone calls and had some conversations about it, but never to the point where I got very serious about it."

For multiple reasons, the 48-year-old Meyer makes for both an intriguing and odd candidate for the professional level.

Working in Meyer's favor is the fact that he's found success at all four stops in his head coaching career, compiling a 116-23 record at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Ohio State. In addition to winning two national championships and enjoying two more undefeated seasons, Meyer has never won less than eight games in a season and only once has lost more than three.

On the other hand, the Ashtabula, Ohio native is a college coach through and through. One of the innovators of the spread offense, his teams have often relied on dual-threat quarterbacks, where in the NFL, signal-callers are paid millions of dollars to stay healthy and not take the type of hits that Meyer's offense often requires them to.

A passionate recruiter, a jump to the NFL would require Meyer to trade his home visits and high school stops for free agency and the realities of a sometimes cruel business. Having grown up on Woody Hayes and mentored by Earle Bruce, Meyer admitted that college football has always been his first love.

"I'm intrigued with the collegiate atmosphere, I don't know much about pro football," Meyer said. "You start talking about salary caps and those type of things and I'd much rather talk about recruiting and the part that I love about college football and that's the development of young players. I just never really had an interest."

But while Meyer prefers the college confines to coaching on Sundays, he remains not only a fan, but a student of the pro game. With no bowl game to prepare for over the past month due to a postseason ban, the undefeated OSU coach said that he and his staff spent time studying how various NFL teams utilize elements of the spread offense and mobile quarterbacks such as the Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III and the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson.

Meyer said that some of what he learned will show up in Columbus next season, where he's already focused on his first bowl-eligible Ohio State squad, and not any NFL openings.

"I'm just trying to get to 1-0," Meyer said.

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