COLUMBUS (AP) — Urban Meyer’s mentor is and was Earle Bruce.
Meyer was a graduate assistant in 1987 under Bruce. On a busy Monday before the Michigan game, Ohio State President Edward Jennings called AD Rick Bay in and told him he had to fire Bruce, who to that point was 80-26-1 in nine seasons as head coach. Bay said the firing was not warranted and refused. So Jennings asked for, and received, Bay’s resignation.
Jennings then hired longtime athletic administrator Jim Jones to take over as athletic director and his first order of business was to fire Bruce.
Meyer was asked on Monday what he recalled about that fateful day.
“I can tell you everything. I can tell you walking into coach Bruce’s office right out there, this facility just opened, and Rick Bay was leaned up against the wall and looked at me and said, ‘Close the door. Are you the last one?’ I said, ‘Yes. Yes, sir.’ And I sat down.
“I saw a bunch of coaches with their arms (folded) on the table, with their faces in their arms, and tears and the whole deal. I was like the last guy to walk in, and (Bay) said, ‘Coach Bruce will no longer be the coach after this game, and I have resigned as athletic director.’”
Bruce would end up as the head coach at Colorado State, where he hired Meyer. Ohio State foundered for a few years under John Cooper, who was never a fan favorite, but eventually turned into a national contender again.
Meyer, of course, went on to a glittering career as an assistant at Notre Dame, then had success at Bowling Green and Utah before winning two national championships in six years at Florida.
Yet he’s never forgotten that day.
“Just an incredible moment in Ohio State history,” he said.
PETITIONING THE NCAA: By now you may have heard of “We The People,” a section of the official White House website, which allows citizens to create and sign petitions that then are supposedly brought to the attention of President Barack Obama.
Some Ohio State fans have petitioned the administration not to end the fighting in Afghanistan or calm the Middle East. No, they want the NCAA to allow the Buckeyes to play in a bowl game this season.
The online copy reads: “We petition the Obama administration to: Pardon The Ohio State Buckeyes from unjust NCAA sanctions preventing their rightful access to a BCS bowl game. The Ohio State University football team is one win away from an undefeated season. However, due to imposed sanctions, they are not allowed to participate in their conference’s championship game or the following bowl season. While a punishment for past indiscretions is to be expected, a bowl season ban is too harsh for a few young men trading memorabilia for tattoos and some change. The offending players and coach who covered it up are no longer part of the program. Please exercise your executive power to pardon the NCAA’s excessive sanctions placed on The Ohio State Buckeyes to enable a rightful, satisfying culmination to the college football season for the American people.”
As of Monday morning, 1,133 people had signed the petition.
You can see it for yourself at: http://1.usa.gov/SXz12t
NEW KID IN TOWN: Yes, Maryland is now a member of the Big Ten. Rutgers is expected to come aboard as early as Tuesday.
It’s expected that the two newest affiliates of what is now a 14-team league would likely join the Leaders Division in football, because they would want to be regularly paired with another team in the division, Penn State, with which they have a natural rivalry.
That would mean that Illinois, most likely, would be moved to the Legends Division. That would also mean that Ohio State’s schedule will look entirely different in just two years when the newbies join the league.
Ah, who won’t embrace the grand tradition of a big showdown in New Jersey each November?
HOOPS TIME: Meyer and the Ohio State football seniors will be at the men’s hoops game Friday and will speak at halftime. The game tips at 6 pm.
B1G HONORS: Ohio State DL John Simon was selected as the Big Ten’s defensive player of the week and PR Corey Brown the special-teams honoree after their huge contributions to Saturday’s 21-14 overtime victory over Wisconsin.
Simon totaled six tackles including a school-record four sacks. He now leads the Big Ten with nine sackes and is tied with teammate LB Ryan Shazier with 14.5 tackles for a loss this season.
Brown scored the first touchdown of the game on a 68-yard punt return. He averaged 23 yards on three returns in the victory.
Joining them as an award winner was Michigan QB Devin Gardner, who was the offensive player of the week after becoming only the sixth Football Bowl Subdivision player since 2000 to throw for 300 yards, pass for three touchdowns and rush for three scores in Michigan’s 42-17 victory over Iowa. Gardner shared the offensive award with Penn State QB Matt McGloin.
Simon will undoubtedly make acquaintance with Gardner at some point — or repeatedly — on Saturday afternoon.
UP NORTH: Ohio State RT Reid Fragel says there’s no comparison between the Michigan game and any other.
“I mean, just taking that field, as cliche as it may sound, running out on the field and seeing 107,000 standing, screaming, yelling obscenities,” he said. “There’s just something special about seeing a little bit of maize and blue over there in the corner outnumbered by the scarlet and gray. At the same time, when that ball is snapped, you feel like you’re playing in the national championship game itself right there with everything that’s on the line. Every yard is worth two, stuff like that. Everything just means so much more that I guess you would take for granted with a typical game — I guess it’s just indescribable.”
Fragel is a native of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.
“My parents put the Ohio State flag out every game, and they haven’t got too much flak,” he said with a smile.
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