COLUMBUS – It didn’t take long for the health of the coach, not the health of the running game or the well-being of the linebackers, to become the biggest story in Ohio State football.
Ever since Urban Meyer went to his knees on the sideline during OSU’s game against Indiana four weeks ago, there have been questions about his health.
At first Meyer brushed off questions about that incident, saying it was just a headache.
Monday at his weekly press conference when asked about his future, he said he planned to coach at Ohio State next season and people shouldn’t worry about him. But the next day, apparently after seeking advice from several people, he invited a small group of reporters into his office to discuss a health issue that dates back to the late 1990s when he was an assistant coach at Notre Dame.
Meyer was diagnosed with an arachnoid cyst on his brain in 1998 and had surgery in the spring of 2014 to drain fluid from the cyst.
What his personal physician described as “aggressive headaches” that have flared up in the last two years have been “managed,” to use Meyer’s word, with medication.
The headaches often bring intense pain with them and can be aggravated by stress or even by things as seemingly minor as yelling loudly or blowing a whistle, according to one of the reporters in the meeting.
Without being in the meeting, it is hard to get a read on Meyer’s motivation in revealing as much as he did about his health.
There has been much speculation since Tuesday that he might not be back as Ohio State’s coach next year.
But on the surface the meeting seemed more like an effort to quell speculation he is leaving than an attempt to prepare people for an early exit.
It’s likely that recruits and their families and other coaches who might use uncertainty about Meyer’s health when recruiting were the intended target of Tuesday’s transparency.
That would mean Meyer is looking toward the future and that his future includes coaching at Ohio State for several more years.
In the Tuesday meeting, Meyer said, “I am fully committed to Ohio State and the football program for as long as I can.”
The first 11 words of that sentence sound like a man who definitely wants to continue coaching. But the last six words sound like someone who knows it might not be possible to do that at some point in the future.
So, yes, the possibility of not coaching probably is something Meyer has considered. Has he made a decision about the future? Probably not.
It is hard to imagine someone with Meyer’s intensity, competitiveness and success walking away from coaching at the relatively young age of 54.
But it has happened before with at least two highly successful coaches who retired in their 50s and didn’t look back.
Ara Parseghian won two national championships at Notre Dame but quit coaching at age 51 and never returned. Darrell Royal won three national titles at Texas, retired at age 52 and never came back.
Will Meyer join that group or will he still be coaching into his 60s?
The answer is probably like determining the kickoff times for Ohio State’s football games. You’ll just have to wait to get that answer.