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Owens: Meyer to face challenges at Ohio State (Nov. 30)

Andrew Owens | Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You know the old girlfriend who broke up with you and said she was not ready for a long-term commitment, but two weeks later you signed on Facebook and saw she was in a relationship?

Yeah, that’s Urban Meyer right now.

The 47-year-old head coach who took a leave of absence, then retracted it, then coached another year before retiring for health and personal reasons, before becoming a commentator has now seen his Brett Favre-esque soap opera come full circle as he is now running the show at Ohio State (rumor has it University president Gordon Gee has his fingers crossed Meyer won’t fire him).

So how legitimate is it for Florida fans to be enraged by the change in Meyer’s tune?

Very legitimate.

After all, this was the first big-time coaching opportunity that opened up since Meyer’s departure from Florida, and he could not resist the opportunity.

It’s amazing Meyer was able to wipe away the drool he’s had for that job since Jim Tressel was let go in May and articulate as well as he did during ESPN broadcasts this year.

So what kind of results should we expect from Meyer in the change of scenery?

It will be difficult for him to be more successful than he was in Gainesville, when he won two national championships in six seasons in the nation’s toughest conference.

Ohio State’s pending sanctions with the NCAA won’t do him any favors, but he is a good enough coach and program-builder to overcome whatever obstacles are thrown his way — if he really wants to take on that challenge.

What if the NCAA decides the missteps made by the Buckeyes were egregious enough to warrant a punishment similar to that of USC? If Meyer faces scholarship reductions and a bowl ban for a couple years, even the mega-recruiter himself won’t find it easy to lure the nation’s top talent to Columbus.

On top of that, Meyer has a more difficult location to sell to recruits now that he is in gloomy Ohio compared to sunny Florida. He will keep his footprint in the south and still pull in elite blue-chippers, but not to the extent he was able to in the SEC.

Meyer needs to adapt to a different style of football in the Big 10, one that is much less speed-and skill-oriented. Judging from Meyer’s track record, adapting should not be a problem if he can find the passion. He already has a dual-threat quarterback that should thrive in his system in freshman Braxton Miller, and that’s a key start for Meyer.

But what if he decides a year or two from now the stress is too much, he hasn’t found the “balance” he took a year off to find, the sanctions are too much, the fans are too impatient, the wife is unhappy with the weather in the Midwest and the talent is not what he came to expect in the SEC?

Would he dare step away from a $40-million contract the tradition-rich school at which he has dreamed of coaching — one that has already proven its willingness to cede unlimited power to a football coach?

With Meyer, you simply never know what move he will make next. His commitment is always strong — sometimes it lies with football and sometimes with family. This week, he made his latest decision. When will he make the next?