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January 11, 2013

Meyer talks offseason goals

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham



COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Standing on the sideline of the BCS Championship Game, Urban Meyer formulated a plan to ensure that the next time he was doing so, it was as Ohio State's head coach and not as a guest analyst.

The 48-year-old Meyer is heading into his second offseason in charge of the Buckeyes' program, and is coming off of a 12-0 debut season in Columbus. Yet despite earning the second perfect season of his 11-year head coaching career, Meyer was unable to compete for his third national title, due to a postseason ban that came as a result of NCAA violations committed by members of OSU's 2010 team and former head coach Jim Tressel.

That won't be the case this year. With the Buckeyes' bowl ban having expired, they are now eligible to compete for their first national championship in more than a decade.

But before Ohio State can put a stop to a budding Alabama dynasty that has seen the Crimson Tide win three national titles in four seasons, Meyer knows that there's work to do in Columbus.

"Fundamentally, we are not where we need to be," Meyer said. "I was fortunate enough to at the championship game, and I think probably the best fundamental team that I've certainly seen this year won that game."

With the spring semester and winter conditioning starting this week, the Buckeyes' road to Pasadena and the 2014 BCS National Championship Game is only beginning. While Meyer said that it's too early to even think about goals like that, he said that his team first needs to get its collective mindset in the right place for that to even be a possibility.

And in order to do so, the second-year Ohio State head coach has installed a new offseason motto for the Buckeyes.

"Our mantra is going to be 'truth,'" Meyer announced. "You have a big season and there's a lot of conversation about things that shouldn't be discussed because it's not true. For example, 'You guys are probably going to do this next year.' No, we're not, unless we get a lot better.

"Like, a lot better."

What Meyer was referencing was many premature preseason polls that have unanimously selected Ohio State as a top-5 team for 2013. While the Buckeyes' head man admitted that he'd rather be the favorite than the underdog, he also said that talking about such goals is inappropriate this early in the process.

"For me to say we have to get there next year, that's like talking about we have to go fly to the moon," Meyer said. "You know what we have to do? We have to find out who can play defensive line for us. We lost some really good players."

With 13 combined starters returning on both sides of the ball, the Buckeyes will certainly be talked about as one of the top teams capable of knocking the Crimson Tide off of its throne. Further pressed on whether or not his current team was gunning for his former SEC rival, the former Florida coach gave the best answer that he could.

"Where are we? I don't like to feed on the speculation. I think we're a very good team that can compete with any team in the country," Meyer said. "To say that we could go out and beat a team like that- first of all I don't want to speculate, but if I was going to give you an honest answer right now, I'd say that we have too many holes to fill."

Should the Buckeyes fill those holes this offseason, Meyer won't need to be speculating next winter.



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