It’s officially open season on Urban Meyer-to-Ohio State speculation.
Various Buckeyes message boards have spent a sizable chunk of the past week tossing around well-sourced tidbits of information on their Insider forums, all relating in some way to the former Florida head coach being on the verge of becoming the next Buckeyes head coach. One unnamed board — technically, one very in-the-know poster and his unique use of a mathematical symbol — had Meyer to the Buckeyes late Thursday afternoon. That was followed by ElevenWarriors.com — as money as it comes to all things OSU — tweeting a few hours later that they “are 99.7% sure Urban Meyer has agreed to a deal to become the next coach of Ohio State. Solid sources. Plural.”
Today, Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote in his excellent summary of where the Urban legend stands at this moment that “[t]here absolutely was and is mutual interest between Meyer and Ohio State, and the school believed then that if he coached next season, it would be at Ohio State.”
On CFT’s front, we’ve been told for the past couple of days that Meyer had not agreed to become the new head coach, but the qualifier “yet” or “not yet” was added in each and every instance. Now, reportedly, those qualifiers can all but officially be stripped away. Maybe.
SportsByBrooks.com is reporting Friday night that Meyer “is assembling a coaching staff after agreeing to become the next head football coach at Ohio State.” Brooks goes on to write that “[t]he deal… was consummated in principle earlier this week in Columbus but not signed”, and that, as would be expected, Meyer would become one of the highest-paid coaches in major college football. Perhaps the most intriguing — or head-scratching, depending on your vantage point — part of the report relates to the composition of at least a portion of Meyer’s would-be coaching staff:
In addition to Meyer’s generous compensation package, sources said a major factor in the coach’s decision to agree to take the position was the school promising him the budget to assemble what is expected to become the highest-paid assistant coaching staff in college football history.
Of that staff, sources indicate Meyer’s intial plan is to retain current Ohio State head football coach Luke Fickell and current Buckeye wide receivers coach Stan Drayton.
Meyer also aims to add Chris Spielman, Kirk Herbstreit, current North Carolina State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta and current LSU offensive line coach Greg Studwara to his Ohio State staff.
Our attempts to get an on-the-record comment from OSU officials has thus far proven fruitless. The same can be said for Meyer’s agent.
We should note, though, that our sources continue to say Meyer-to-OSU is not a done deal. Pat Dooley, the long-time Gainesville Sun writer who maintains a close friendship with Meyer, tweeted the following after Brooks’ report surfaced: “I can only tell you what Urban just texted me back about rumor that he has accepted job at Ohio State — “No truth to it.””
However, there’s too much smoke for there not to be some flicker of truth burning underneath all of this speculation. Whether it turns into a full-blown, five-alarm blaze in the coming days or weeks remains to be seen.
UPDATED 1:02 p.m. ET: During the Nebraska-Michigan game in which he’s serving as part of the broadcast team, Meyer denied the latest round of speculation connecting him to a coaching job.
“I have not been offered any job. I have not accepted any job,” Meyer said.
Meyer did not address whether he has been engaged in discussions with Ohio State officials, so expect the rumor mill to continue working overtime on this issue until a permanent replacement for Jim Tressel — Meyer, Fickell or other points in between — is named.