When Urban Meyer, an Ohio native, took the head coaching job at Ohio State prior to the 2012 season, he knew what he had to do.
“We’re going to make the great state of Ohio proud in everything we do,” Meyer said in his opening press conference.
Six years, two Big Ten championships, two College Football Playoff berths and one national championship later, Meyer seemed to keep the promise on the football field. And after earning his second straight Big Ten title and his first Rose Bowl appearance in his 27 years in coaching, Meyer announced his tenure at Ohio State would be over.
Ohio State announced Tuesday morning that he would be retiring as the head football coach at Ohio State. He will formally announce this as a part of a press conference at 2 p.m. Ohio State said that offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day will replace him.
Meyer said he was honored to represent his home state of Ohio and the university for the last seven years.
“My goal has always been to make this one of the premier and comprehensive programs in all of America,” Meyer said. “It has always been the goal to see a healthy, strong program handed to an elite coach in person.”
This announcement comes after a tumultuous season in which Meyer was suspended for the first three games after he was accused of knowing of domestic violence allegations made against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith. Meyer also disclosed this season he has suffered with a cyst in his brain that has led to severe headaches over the past few years.
Meyer said he has been dealing with headaches over the past few years, saying it hit hard after the Penn State game in 2016. He also said it was something that both Gene Smith and his family knew about at the time.
“But we had conversations back then about longevity and the seriousness of it,” Meyer said. “Because, as they said, it’s not your elbow or your foot. We’re talking about something else.”
Meyer also said his decision was not based on the events surrounding the firing of Zach Smith in July and his suspension through the first three games of the 2018 season. It was the combination of the different situations he was in.
“The decision was a result of cumulative events. And health number one,” Meyer said. “The fact that we have an elite coach on our staff. The fact that our program is very healthy. We’ve recruited very well all played a significant role in this. And I can’t say this is the reason, this is the reason. But there’s cumulative reasons that we’re at this point.”
Meyer also said that he believes he will never coach again.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said it was a unique opportunity for the program to have a succession plan in place with Day. He said he and Meyer had begun to have discussion about the transition a month ago and that, instead of having a national search, he felt more comfortable with a coach already on staff in Day.
“Our program does not need disruption,” Smith said. “It does not need to blow up and try and adapt to our standards of operation and try and change the infrastructure that we put in place for the student athlete. We had a talented guy that many others wanted to interview and potentially hire.”
Day, coming in from the offensive coordinator role, will try and build off of what Meyer has created in his seven years with the program.
“We are all part of something special here at Ohio State. And the culture that Urban Meyer has created here is strong. And my pledge to the players is that our staff will give you every opportunity to maximize yourself as a football player, as a student and establishing your career after football,” Day said. “You have my word that I am going to give everything I have to continue the tradition of excellence and winning in its storied career.”
Meyer has been a head coach since 2001, coaching at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State in that timespan. In those 16 seasons, he has recorded the seventh-highest winning percentage in NCAA history, with a record of 177 wins and 31 losses.
Through six seasons as the head coach at Ohio State, Meyer posted a record of 73-8, winning the first College Football Playoff in 2014 and giving the school its eighth national championship.
Meyer has led three teams to a national title in his head coaching career and is the first to do so in two separate conferences, in 2006 and 2008 with Florida in the SEC and in 2014 with Ohio State in the Big Ten.
With a career record of 46-3 in conference play, Meyer led Ohio State to six Big Ten East titles and two Big Ten championships. In six bowl games, Meyer posted a 4-2 record for the Buckeyes, including a win over USC in the Cotton Bowl.
Over the past four years, Ohio State, under Meyer, has produced 26 NFL draft picks, including seven first round selections. Meyer also coached six consensus All-Americans while he was with the Buckeyes, including defensive end Joey Bosa, who was named an All-American twice.
Taking over an Ohio State team amidst scandal, with the team ineligible for both the Big Ten Championship and any bowl game, Meyer led Ohio State to its sixth undefeated season in school history.
He continued that success into the 2013 season. With quarterback Braxton Miller leading the way, the Buckeyes finished with a record of 12-2, losing to No. 10 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship. Ohio State finished the season with a loss to No. 12 Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Starting the 2014 season as the No. 5 team in the country according to the AP poll, Ohio State lost Miller to a season-ending injury prior to the start of its first game against Navy. With redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett at quarterback, the Buckeyes suffered a home loss to Virginia Tech during Week 2.
However, after the loss to the Hokies, Ohio State went on a run, winning 10 straight games and entering the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin as the No. 5 team in the country. However, with Barrett out for the rest of the season after being carted off the field during the Buckeyes’ win over Michigan, Meyer was down to third-string quarterback Cardale Jones to start the conference championship game.
Jones started with a bang, defeating the Badgers 59-0 and earning the No. 4 seed in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Meyer then led Ohio State to wins over Alabama and Oregon to win the Buckeyes’ first national championship since the 2002 season.
With extremely high expectations entering the 2015 season, beginning the season as the No. 1 team in the country, Ohio State matched those expectations, winning 10 straight to start the season. However, Meyer and the Buckeyes fell to Michigan State in Week 11, losing their chance for a Big Ten Championship and, eventually, a berth in the College Football Playoff.
After the 2015 season, Meyer saw 15 players leave for the NFL. In the 2016 NFL Draft, Ohio State had 12 players selected, including five first round selections, including the No. 3 overall pick in Bosa and the No. 4 overall pick in running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Despite the amount of turnover the football program had prior to the 2016 season, a conference loss to Penn State and no spot in the Big Ten Championship game, Meyer still found a way to return to the College Football Playoff. As the No. 3 team in the country, the Buckeyes recorded only nine first downs, falling to No. 2 Clemson 31-0 in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.
During the 2017 season, Meyer and Ohio State suffered two losses to No. 3 Oklahoma and Iowa, but earned his second Big Ten Championship of his tenure, defeating No. 7 Wisconsin 27-21 in the championship game. However, this failed to give Ohio State a Playoff berth and the Buckeyes went to the 2017 Cotton Bowl, defeating No. 12 USC 24-7.
Updated at 3:55 p.m. with quotes from Urban Meyer, Gene Smith and Ryan Day.