Urban Meyer, Tom Herman and 21st Century Media


Urban Meyer is one of the most accomplished college football coaches currently making bank: Success at Bowling Green. An undefeated record at Utah leading to a rare BCS bowl for a non-automatic qualifying school. Three national championships at two different power-conference schools.

But that doesn’t mean Meyer is infallible when he becomes a pulpit thumper and speaks like he invented the game of football.

With a huge top five showdown with Oklahoma looming Saturday, Meyer set fire to social media (which is always tinder-dry and awaiting a match) by criticizing a former assistant coach who helped Meyer win his third national title.

After Tom Herman stumbled in his debut with Texas’ 51-41 loss to Maryland Saturday, one of his post-game comments was: “But if that we all thought that we were going to come in here and in nine months, sprinkle some fairy dust on this team and think that we’ve arrived, then we’re wrong.”

Meyer, somehow, some way, managed to take the quote out of context and twist the meaning to his own perspective. Never mind how Meyer would throw a hissy fit if someone did the same to one of his quotes.

“C’mon man. I don’t know where that came from,” Meyer told CBS Sports. “It’s like a new generation of excuse. [Herman] said, ‘I can’t rub pixie dust on this thing.’ He got a dose of reality. Maryland just scored 51 points on you.”

The Buckeyes’ coach interpreted Herman’s “fairy dust” comment was blaming his players for the loss – and adding that “blaming players drives me insane.” That’s a stretch of logic and meaning that would dismember Plastic Man.

While Herman has the same foibles as any egomaniac head coach, in this case he was trying to explain that the hype and expectations – some of which Herman had created and perpetuated – had overshadowed what was needed to rebuild a Texas program that has suffered three consecutive losing seasons.

The Meyer-Herman story had the content aggregators churning at high gear Thursday. It was similar to having a spat between Beyonce’ and Taylor Swift. And yes, dear reader, it provoked Your Veteran Scribe to write about it.

One other Modern Media Note: Herman will be asked for his reaction and the butter will be churned for another cycle of the digital platforms.

If you play golf, sometimes there’s a playing partner who is constantly “talking” to your shots.

“Sit down…kick right…don’t fade that way.”

There are some golfers who will say shut up by saying, “Keep your mouth off my ball.” Urban Meyer has the right to express his opinions (even if they’re wrong) but he needs to keep his mouth off other programs.

His insanity, he explained, is created by coaches who take over programs and immediately denigrate the players left behind by the previous coach.

“That’s like, when I got here, everybody wanted me to say Jim Tressel left the cupboard bare,” Meyer continued in his comments to CBSSports.com. “If I heard any assistant coach [say that], they’d be gone.
You’re done.

“Those are your players. I hear TV guys [say], ‘Wait until they get their own players in there.’ They’re our players. What do you mean ‘their players?’ The minute you sign a contract, they’re your players.”

So if Meyer wants to nitpick over the “fairy dust” allow me to nitpick his comment. “I hear TV guys [say], ‘Wait until they get their own players in there.’” How is that a coach’s fault what TV guys are saying?

While we’re on the subject of “TV guys” let’s revisit Meyer’s resume. He claimed he left Florida because the job was causing life-threatening health concerns (and never mind that feeding a two-title monster had led to recruiting a roster of ne’er-do-wells).

After leaving Gainesville to spend more time with his family, he spent that time keeping his profile bright and shiny by working in ESPN’s studio, not at home with his family. Cured, hale, hearty and healthy, he was perfectly positioned to take over one of the nation’s top programs when Tressel was escorted out of Columbus.

Question: How do you know a coach isn’t telling the truth?
Answer: His lips are moving.

Meyer driving a bus over Herman was a confluence of Meyer’s coaching tree. Herman was Ohio State’s offensive coordinator before coaching Houston for two years and then replacing Charlie Strong who was Meyer’s defensive coordinator at Florida.

After recruiting well (apparently) and not winning enough, Strong departed Texas after three seasons and left by saying the “cake was baked” and just needed the icing. Herman, before the Maryland game, questioned his team’s depth but said his starters could play with anyone in the country.

We in the media complain when coaches limit their access and really bitch when coaches only spit clichés. Coaches who talk to the media more than once a week and go beyond “executing the game plan” usually talk themselves into a corner. A coach who is unable to execute a news conference game plan by filtering his thoughts before they become words needs to be coached up in public speaking.

Meyer maneuvered himself into a tight space by criticizing a former assistant who has been effusive in his praise for what he learned coaching for Meyer. Perhaps Urban Meyer will consider Tom Herman an equal when and if Herman wins three national titles.

Until then, Tom, shut up and kiss his…rings.