Meyer likes playoff, but wants tweaks
CHICAGO – For just a moment it was a different Urban Meyer. He was agitated and a little uncertain.
After standing up at the end of two hours of interviews at a table at the Big Ten football media days on Tuesday, he thought he had lost his cell phone.
But the crisis was quickly resolved when it was pointed out he had put it into his suit coat pocket and then removed the coat sometime during the interviews.
Meyer refers to Ohio State’s back-to-back losses to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game and to Clemson in the Orange Bowl as “speed bumps.”
That would probably make the temporarily missing phone a very minor speed bump.
The hope for Ohio State this season is that all the speed bumps will be about that small and easily leveled off.
If that happens, the Buckeyes could be one of the four teams invited to the College Football Playoff, the new way of picking a college football champion, which is in its first season.
Meyer is up front about the desire around the Big Ten to put a team in the first College Football Playoff to validate the league as one of the college game’s power conferences. And, even though Michigan State was last year’s champion, Ohio State is viewed as the team most likely to do that this year.
“Someone asked me if there is a lot of pressure to get a (Big Ten) team in the playoff. Absolutely,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he thinks he likes the new format but would like to see some changes, particularly in covering the cost of travel to the playoff games for the families of players.
“I think I like it. It’s good for the fans. It’s good for college football. But there are still a lot of concerns,” he said.
“I was talking last night at dinner with Gene (Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith) about fan fatigue and player fatigue and, obviously, coach fatigue. And you can’t forget about the most important people – the players and the fans. We’ll see how it works out.”
The new format could have a team traveling to a league championship game, a bowl game as a national championship semifinal and to the championship game.
Meyer said the typical family spends $5,000 on a bowl trip and estimated 20 percent or fewer families of OSU’s players could pay for an extended bowl trip.
“They drive in the day of the game. They watch the game and go home. That’s their bowl experience,” he said.
“The coach’s family and all these people go for free and the quarterback’s family is going to have to come up with that? That’s not right.”
Some other thoughts from Meyer and the three OSU players at media days – Jeff Heuerman, Michael Bennett and Braxton Miller.
* When Meyer was asked if he had ever lost more than two games in a row as a head coach, he said, “I don’t think so. I hope not.”
* Meyer said he told LeBron James he has a sideline pass to Ohio State games whenever he wanted one.
He also joked that James would have been better off taking the football scholarship offer he made to him when he was an assistant coach at Notre Dame.
“He still has four years of eligibility left,” Meyer said.
* When Miller was asked about the high profile off-field activities of Johnny Manziel he said he likes to fish to relax.
* Heuerman got off the line of the day when he was talking about how people were comparing him to Aaron Hernandez when Meyer was hired in 2011.
“I’m nothing like Aaron Hernandez on the field. Or off the field,” he said.
* Meyer said this year’s OSU defensive line could be as good as the best one he ever had, the 2006 Florida defensive front that tortured Troy Smith and Ohio State in a 41-14 win in the BCS championship game.
“This one, if they all stay healthy and perform, they could be on that level,” he said.
* Bennett said he thinks all four OSU starting defensive linemen – Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Joey Bosa and himself can play in the NFL.
“I think all four of us are NFL caliber athletes. All four of us can go to the NFL,” he said.
When a Toledo television reporter asked him about Bowling Green, a school he once coached, Meyer said, “I love Bowling Green. Always will.”