COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer is back on familiar turf, fit and rarin' to go as Ohio State's new football coach.
Without question, he'd like to add to the national titles and success he had at Florida — only this time with a better ending: No burnout.
A match that seemed obvious for months was made Monday, when the Buckeyes hired Meyer to take over a glamour program struggling through a year of well-publicized NCAA violations.
Meyer resigned as Gators coach after last season, citing health concerns and a desire to spend more time with his family.
"A year ago in my mind I was convinced I was done coaching," the 47-year-old said.
He's now convinced he can balance a healthy life and a high-pressure job.
"I had a health scare a couple of years ago that made me sit back, reflect," Meyer said of heart and stress problems. "I didn't feel right. But I feel fantastic now."
He did, though, yearn to be back on the sideline at the Horseshoe.
"If not for the coaching position at Ohio State, I would not have coached this year," said Meyer, who grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio, about 200 miles away from campus.
Meyer will become one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, along with Alabama's Nick Saban and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Texas' Mack Brown. He was given a six-year contract that pays $4 million annually, plus another $2.4 million total in "retention payments." He also can qualify for supplemental bonuses.
Interim coach Luke Fickell, who took over when Jim Tressel was forced out for breaking NCAA rules, will coach the Buckeyes (6-6) in their bowl game. Meyer will keep him on as an assistant but declined to say in what capacity.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said his first conversation with Meyer about the coaching job was by phone on Nov. 20. The two met face-to-face three days later.
"There's a right time for certain leaders," he said. "This is the right time for Urban Meyer to lead this football team. ... He gets it."
Meyer spent six years at Florida, winning national titles in 2006 and 2008. He spent his year away from coaching working as an analyst for ESPN and watching his two daughters play volleyball for their college teams.
Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce gave Meyer his first college coaching job in 1986 and remained a close friend and confidant through the years. He said he had no concerns about Meyer's health.
"Well, if he'd had a heart attack and his heart was bad, I'd be worried about that," the 80-year-old Bruce said. "I'm not worried that he was stressed out over the game of football because he was thinking too much and not doing some things (exercising) that would have kept him straight. I think he got everything back under control by sitting out a year. I think he missed football. And he's good at it."
Meyer met with the team on Monday before his news conference and said he was impressed with the players' enthusiasm.
Meyer takes over a program that is likely facing NCAA sanctions and was crippled by the forced resignation of Tressel. The Buckeyes completed their only season under Fickell with a 40-34 loss to Michigan on Saturday that snapped a seven-game winning streak against their rivals.
Tressel was forced out for knowing but not telling his superiors that Buckeyes players likely broke NCAA rules by taking cash and free or discounted tattoos from the subject of a federal drug-trafficking investigation.
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