Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox

Urban Meyer opened up at Big Ten Media Day, but will anyone listen?


We’ve cited it before and we’ll cite it again: according to the New York Times, 31 players were arrested under Urban Meyer at Florida. Some of the arrests were of your basic boys-will-be-boys variety, while others were far more disturbing.

But by adding them all up, Meyer’s developed a bad reputation — fair or not — as a lenient coach who cares more about winning than discipline.

Speaking at Big Ten Media Day, Meyer didn’t even attempt to defend himself against the narrative that unfairly went to a new level with the arrest of former New England Patriots and UF tight end Aaron Hernandez.

I don’t worry about my reputation, I worry about my players,” Meyer said in response to one of several questions related to off-the-field headlines. In fact, there was only one question — one — about how the Buckeyes might perform as preseason national title contenders in 2013. The rest? They centered around Carlos Hyde, dealing with behavior problems, “turning in” Florida for a secondary recruiting violation, and the like.

Meyer had to know those questions were coming. He certainly conducted himself in a way that indicates he’d prepared for them. The second-year Buckeyes coach never got angry and he didn’t call out reporters. More importantly, he didn’t administer blame to anyone or play a victim. Perhaps the closest he came to that was admitting “It’s been a rough couple of days,” toward the beginning of his opening statement.

But that comment set Meyer’s tone for the entire Q&A. It was not one made out of martyrdom, but seemingly, openness. Meyer was reflective and anything but shy, with words like “evaluating” coming up more than a few times. There are plenty of qualities you can debate about Meyer, but he is unquestionably constantly looking for ways to improve.

Even, according to him, in the off-the-field department.

“I want to make sure our discipline is as hard or harder than anything out there,” Meyer said.

Critics can… and will… and already have… scoffed at that statement. But even if Meyer has evolved in his approach to player discipline — he says he has, and wondered aloud if he gave some players too many second chances — the narrative is so strong that few will likely change their opinion about him. That’s the reality that Meyer will deal with for the rest of his coaching days.

The only thing Meyer really can control is how he affects his players, something Nick Saban praised Bear Bryant for during SEC Media Days. The embattled Ohio State coach understands that as well as anyone.

“A head coach needs to set a standard, direct, push,” Meyer said. “But ultimately every person is responsible for the decisions they make.”

Including Aaron Hernandez.

Is Meyer guilty of giving some players one too many chances despite their poor decisions? Sure. Name a coach who isn’t (besides Nick Saban). As Meyer explains, it’s similar to dealing with his own children. Has his approach to off-the-field issues changed? We’ll find out soon enough. For all we know, Meyer may be yanking our collective chain. I would venture to guess that plenty of people think he is. And maybe they’re right.

But here’s something we do know Meyer is being truthful about:

“I’m a human.”

Chip Kelly says he never met to discuss USC vacancy

Chip Kelly

Whether you chose to believe him or not, at least Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is officially on the record. During his regularly scheduled Monday press conference in Philadelphia, Kelly said he never met with anybody to discuss the previously vacant head coaching position at USC.

Alright then. So at least that’s that. (But what about his agent?)

USC filled the head coaching position this morning by officially announcing Clay Helton will remain the head coach after serving as the interim head coach following the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian earlier this season. Kelly, the former head coach at Oregon, has had his name attached to multiple coaching rumors at the college level since he left for the NFL, including Texas and Florida before this position at USC opened. Kelly has stood firm on his public statements about not having any interest in a college job, but that never seems to silence the fun hypothetical discussions about his probable eventual return to college football.

Houston and Tom Herman have agreement in principle on new contract

UH Coach Tom Herman
1 Comment

As the coaching carousel continues to spin, it seems Tom Herman will rest comfortably in Houston for at least one more season. Herman reportedly has an agreement in principle on a new contract to remain the head coach of the Houston Cougars.

We’ve agreed in principle is the best way to put it,” Herman said Monday during a press conference. “We’re working out the details.”

It was previously reported Houston had approved a significant pay raise for the first-year head coach, going up to $3 million with the reworked contract and making it a financial incentive to stay put as job offers flowed in. The push to make Herman the highest-paid coach in the Group of Five, passing Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville ($2.2 million). With a solid foundation for future success, at least in the American Athletic Conference and Group of Five picture, Houston’s financial commitment to Herman is a sign the program is ready and able to work as close to a power conference program as possible.

Herman’s name will continue to be one to watch in future coaching rumors, and in this world we should never say never to the possibility of Herman still being in play for a job elsewhere in this cycle of coaching changes. If Herman and Houston continue to win games, there is no question his stock will remain a valued commodity for power conference programs in the years to come.

Herman and Houston will host Temple this Saturday afternoon in the first American Athletic Conference championship game. The winner will be a lock for receiving the New Years Six bowl spot reserved for the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion. Houston vs. Ohio State (Herman vs. Urban Meyer) is a real possibility in one of the New Years Six bowl games.

Not everybody seems happy about USC’s hiring of Clay Helton

Clay Helton

If there is one thing that can be said about USC hiring Clay Helton as head coach on a permanent basis, it is that it provides stability for the program moving forward. Current players have responded well to Helton. Future Trojans players are responding well to Helton on the recruiting trail. Former USC players? Well, that’s a different situation.

We saw some of this at Miami in recent years with former Hurricanes ripping now former head coach Al Golden. That was a bit of a different situation with Golden being a coach that went against the grain of all that was perceived to be representative of The U. Helton is different because he has been loyal to the program as an assistant coach during a turbulent time. He at least deserves respect of those following and those who have played for USC for that alone. The problem is Helton lacks the kind of appeal most wearing USC lenses expect from their coaching hire and it seems more likely to believe athletics director Pat Haden settled for Helton instead of being able to expand the coaching search and bring in a high-quality coach for the job.

There is one way to swing the emotions the other way for those unhappy with the decision. If USC beats Stanford to win the Pac-12 championship this week, that would be one step in the right direction for the Helton haters and the Haden skeptics (myself included). The pressure will be on more next season regardless of what happens this week in the Pac-12 championship game and whatever bowl game USC ends up playing. USC will be loaded with talent and will be a trendy pick to make a run in the Pac-12 and, perhaps, even the College Football Playoff.

USC names Clay Helton permanent head coach

Clay Helton

The top coaching vacancy in college football has been filled. USC has announced it will remove the interim tag from Clay Helton and make him the permanent head coach moving forward.

Helton has gone 5-2 since taking over the program following the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian as head coach. The most recent win this weekend against UCLA both snapped a three-game losing streak to the crosstown rival Bruins and clinched USC’s first trip to the Pac-12 championship game as Pac-12 South Division champions. Helton has been with the USC program since 2010 under various assistant roles. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013 and named interim head coach that season following the firing of Lane Kiffin. He stayed on the staff following the hiring of Sarkisian from Washington.

Helton had become a clear player favorite in the program, as Helton calmed a troublesome environment of uncertainty in the middle fo the season and delivered a division championship. The only losses under Helton came on the road against Notre Dame in Helton’s first game as interim head coach and more recently at Oregon, a program that revived itself as well. If nothing else, Helton’s being named the head coach provides for some stability for the program, although there should be some questions moving forward whether it will be the right move or not in the long term. The USC job was thought to be the top job on the market and worthy of some high-caliber candidates. There had been rumblings USC reached out to Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, a former Oregon coach of course, but the odds Kelly was going to leave the Eagles on his own a year after getting general manager power were always low.

USC will continue to bring plenty of pressure to win, and win big. Helton will continue to guide a roster packed with talent and getting back to full strength after a stretch of sanctioned seasons. If Helton does not win, he will quickly enter the hot seat conversation.

USC plays Stanford for the Pac-12 championship this week.