Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
Urban Meyer is very aware of the environment he’s stepped into as Ohio State’s new football coach.
After a series of on-and-off the field struggles, 2011 seemed like it could have signaled the end of a football dynasty that has ruled the Big Ten for the better part of the last decade.
A loss to Michigan for just the second time in 11 years and the team’s first losing record since 1988 hasn’t helped either.
But the buzz surrounding the Buckeyes’ spring suggests that Meyer’s arrival has flipped that notion on its head.
Charged as the caretaker of a program with millions of fans across the nation, Meyer said he wakes up everyday understanding the responsibility that has been placed in his hands.
“You’re in charge of a lot of people, a lot of the things,” Meyer said. “This place is like Florida, like Texas, like USC and everything is in a fish bowl.”
And in a place like OSU that’s been under the NCAA’s microscope after scandal rocked the school last year, it’s a role Meyer will inevitably have to take.
For the first, and likely not the last, time at OSU, Meyer experienced what it was like to be in that fishbowl after “Sporting News” published an article this past Monday that essentially said the former Florida coach lost control of his team in Gainesville and, among other things, brushed disciplinary issues under the rug.
In addition to denying the accusations in the “Sporting News” piece, Meyer said while mistakes happen, he and his staff have always done a pretty good job at making sure the program is in line with NCAA compliance laws.
Meyer said accusations are something he occasionally experiences.
“Every once in a while, I’ll get an email saying (something) and I’m like, what in the world is that?” Meyer said.
It’s something he said he takes seriously, though.
“I’d say probably fives times a day, you’ll hear something or five times a week you’ll hear something,” he said. “And you just got to make sure you’re checking things out.”
But his focus, he said, is on spring ball.
And for the first time this spring, Meyer finally saw what he’s wanted to since taking over the Buckeyes in January.
“That’s our best practice of the spring,” he said. “One of the best spring practices that I’ve seen.”
For as much as a stern, corporate-like, calculated coach like Meyer could possibly gush, he said he felt very good walking off the practice field Wednesday.
“If you want to see a ball practice, that was a ball practice,” he said emphasizing and drawing out the word “ball.”
For the first time this spring, the offense finally won a scrimmage in practice, something that Meyer said was pleasing to see.
“It’s not a clown show out there, like (at) a couple a points it was, and guys are competing,” he said.
Meyer said rising senior running back Jordan Hall has shown him that he’s a playmaker, though it was rising junior running back Carlos Hyde that left the biggest impression on him Wednesday afternoon.
“He’s drinking the Kool-Aid right now,” Meyer said, adding that Hyde had an excellent practice.
Meyer said he would give an “A” to the level of intensity, competitiveness and coaching after practice.
“I’m glad you guys go to see that one,” he said. “Because you’ll know when you see a real one and when you see not a real one.”
And even though Meyer said the execution, especially on offense, isn’t there yet, that’s something that can wait.
“It’s not about execution, I’m not worried about that right now,” he said. “I just wanted to see guys go and the offense resemble an offense and the defense come back with their back against the wall.”