If solely the second may have been frozen.
On a transparent, chilly Nov. 6 evening in Salt Lake Metropolis in 2004, Utah smashed Colorado State. The Utes have been undefeated, on their option to a 12-Zero file and a nationwide top-five rating — a dream season at a college of modest soccer heritage. After the sport, the 40-year-old coach wrapped his proper arm round his spouse, pumped his left fist within the air and led the staff within the custom he began — all of them sang the battle track with the band and pupil part.
Cease the march of time, bottle it, put it on a shelf.
If the City Meyer story ended proper there, with that second I watched in Rice-Eccles Stadium that evening, it will be sweetly uncomplicated. It will be much less superb, for positive, but additionally much less troubling and controversial.
The Meyer story wasn’t ending. It was simply getting began, with all its attendant melodrama. Greater than a decade of unbelievable successful and ugly headlines and unusual well being crises have now reached a brand new plot twist — City Meyer stepping down at Ohio State at age 54.
Subsequent act, unknown.
If this have been Nick Saban retiring in his late 60s, the accolades would movement in from each nook of the game. Saban is the one coach of the 21st century to have completed greater than Meyer. His three nationwide titles at two totally different colleges have earned legendary standing — however it all comes with a lot baggage and uncertainty hooked up.
How a lot delinquent conduct by gamers and workers was tolerated within the pursuit of victory? How fragile has his mind-set been all this time? And does anybody actually consider that is the top?
This isn’t a clear break. Not a easy journey off into the sundown.
Making an attempt to sum up the person’s profession took me again to that evening at Utah. It was a good looking time, a contemporary story. However ambition was stirring inside Meyer — the comprehensible starvation for larger and higher, to check himself towards the most effective in his occupation, to see how excessive his star may ascend.
He wished it, and the large boys wished him. Notre Dame and Florida have been about to have interaction in a duel to land the following nice school soccer coach. Florida would win out for his companies, and win massive with Meyer — two nationwide titles in three seasons, a Heisman Trophy, a return to the Steve Spurrier days on the slicing fringe of the game.
However that run got here with a darkish facet — a plague of off-the-field participant points, starting from assaults to thefts to medication. Whereas star quarterback Tim Tebow was the face of advantage, all method of Gator misbehavior was occurring elsewhere.
Among the many gamers Meyer recruited to Gainesville: Aaron Hernandez, who would go on to earn one of the notorious niches within the historical past of soccer. Hernandez, a member of a embellished 2007 Florida recruiting class, was questioned by Gainesville police in connection to a September 2007 taking pictures during which 5 photographs have been fired right into a automobile, wounding each passengers. Hernandez match one witness’ description of the shooter however was by no means charged.
Six years later, as a member of the New England Patriots, Hernandez was charged with and ultimately convicted of homicide. He later was acquitted in a separate double murder case, and dedicated suicide whereas in jail.
When Hernandez was charged with homicide 4 years after leaving Florida, Meyer stated he personally engaged in Bible research with the troubled tight finish whereas he was a Gator. No matter efforts the coach made to assist Hernandez didn’t contain considerably diminished enjoying time; he performed in 40 of 41 video games throughout his three seasons at Florida.
However the drama at Florida wasn’t merely contained to the gamers. Meyer himself created a completely totally different pressure of it.
After a surprising upset loss to Nick Saban and Alabama within the 2009 Southeastern Convention championship recreation, Meyer went to the hospital considering he was having a coronary heart assault. That was dominated out, however the stress of staying on the high of the occupation was consuming him alive — weight reduction, issue sleeping, being nearly absent when it comes to interplay along with his three youngsters.
That led to his first sudden retirement, at Christmas time 2009. It was a bombshell accompanied by numerous florid Meyer verbiage about priorities in life, and the way he was determined in placing his household first and strolling away on the top of his occupation.
A day later, Meyer introduced he modified his thoughts and was going to proceed teaching. That weird whiplash was the primary indication that Meyer actually wasn’t working on secure floor.
Then the 2010 season was a bust, an 8-5 yr that was actually Meyer’s solely disappointing work as a head coach. After that yr he actually did step away, making an attempt the TV analyst factor for a yr. When the Ohio State job opened, the Ohio native was welcomed residence like a conquering hero.
The outcomes have been staggeringly profitable: an 82-9 file, 54-Four within the Large Ten, division champions or co-champions each season, convention champions thrice, nationwide champions as soon as. The continuation of a Corridor of Fame profession, and a High 10 all-time school soccer teaching résumé.
However this offseason, the off-field controversy returned an enormous manner. Large receivers coach Zach Smith, who had been with Meyer courting again to the Florida days, was accused of a number of acts of home violence by his former spouse, Courtney. When stories surfaced in July, Zach Smith was abruptly fired — however Meyer’s dealing with of a wildly troubled worker grew to become a brushfire that engulfed Ohio State soccer for all the month of August.
It in the end led to the college suspending Meyer for the primary three video games of this season. A legion of Ohio State followers thought the punishment was too extreme. A lot of the remainder of the nation thought the punishment was too lenient for basically enabling an assistant who was at finest a serial embarrassment and at worst a serial abuser.
All through the investigation, Meyer comported himself just like the narcissist he’s — issuing clumsy, self-interested statements and combating his suspension as if he have been the largest sufferer in all the affair. Befitting a diva, the episode appeared to take an outsized toll on him.
When Meyer returned to the sideline, he was distress personified — doubled over at occasions, grabbing his head, showing the very antithesis of calm and picked up. At occasions he appeared to barely be conserving himself upright and functioning. Amid nationwide conjecture about his well-being, Meyer tried a proof just a few weeks in the past by publicly discussing a cyst on his mind that he stated has precipitated him persistent ache, and for which he had surgical procedure in 2014.
Nonetheless, it was honest to wonder if this was precise bodily ache. Had Meyer been sucked again into the vortex of tunnel-visioned, winning-obsessed stress that almost ruined him at Florida? The sideline discomfort flared throughout this wildly inconsistent season that noticed Ohio State often underachieve and flirt with defeat. When the Buckeyes performed their finest recreation of the season and blew out arch-rival Michigan on Nov. 24, Meyer appeared relatively snug on the sideline.
No matter it’s that has ailed Meyer this season, it’s chasing him off the sidelines. For now. He leaves an enormous void at Ohio State and in school soccer when it comes to teaching acumen and accomplishment — but additionally carries sufficient baggage with him to considerably complicate his legacy.
It’s been an extremely dramatic journey for City Meyer because the harmless days at Utah. A fragile genius walks away, and no person is aware of what comes subsequent.
Extra on City Meyer from Yahoo Sports activities:
• City Meyer to step down as Ohio State coach after Rose Bowl
• Wetzel: City Meyer’s Large Ten rivals lastly have their likelihood
• The place City Meyer’s accomplishments rank in school soccer historical past
• 10 issues to find out about City Meyer’s Ohio State successor
• Listed below are the 10 greatest video games of City Meyer’s profession