Former Florida coach and current ESPN analyst Urban Meyer has agreed in principle to become Ohio State’s next head football coach, according to a report from WKMG-TV in Orlando. An OSU spokesman on Wednesday did not deny that Meyer will be the Buckeyes next coach.
According to the WKMG-TV report, the deal is worth $40 million over seven years, which would make Meyer the highest paid coach in OSU history.
“We have not been commenting on rumors and speculation,” university spokesman Jim Lynch said in an email to The Lantern.
Meyer released a statement through ESPN denying a deal is in place.
“I have not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place,” Meyer said in the statement. “I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my family and will not comment on this any further.”
If the report is true, Meyer will be replacing interim coach Luke Fickell, who has led the Buckeyes to an 6-5 regular season record.
Meyer began his coaching career at OSU when he accepted a graduate-assistant position for the Buckeyes in 1986 as the tight end coach. He became a wide receiver coach the following year. For the next 13 years, Meyer served as an assistant coach, which included stints at Illinois State, Colorado State and Notre Dame.
In 2001, Meyer accepted his first head coaching position at Bowling Green where he led the Falcons to a 17-6 record in his two years there. He left to accept another head coaching job at the University of Utah in 2003. Meyer led the Utes to a 10-2 record and was named Coach of the Year in the Mountain West Conference.
The following season, Meyer coached Utah to an undefeated season and beat Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-7. It was the first time since the creation of the BCS that a school from a non-automatically qualifying BCS conference was able to run the table and finish the year without a loss.
After the 2004 season, both Florida and Notre Dame pursued Meyer to become their next head coach. Meyer chose Florida and signed a $14 million contract.
Meyer went 9-3 during his first year as the Gators coach, including a 31-24 victory of Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
During his second year as Florida coach, Meyer led the Gators to a National Championship and 13-1 record by defeating the OSU 41-14 in the BCS Championship Game.
Two years later, Florida won another National Championship after defeating the University of Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game, 24-14.
On Dec. 26, 2009, Meyer announced he would be resigning as coach of Florida following the team’s scheduled appearance in the BCS Sugar Bowl due to chest pains and severe headaches.
The following day, Meyer announced an indefinite leave of absence instead of resigning.
On Jan. 1, 2010, Meyer coached the Gators to a 51–24 Sugar Bowl victory against Cincinnati.
After the win, Meyer took time off, but returned to his role as Gators head coach in time for the start of spring practice.
Florida went 7-5 during the 2010 regular season, but on Dec. 8 Meyer announced his retirement from coaching. In his final game as Gator head coach, Florida beat Penn State in The Outback Bowl, 37-24.
In 2011, Meyer accepted a position at ESPN working as a college football analyst.