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Urban Meyer returns home to coach Ohio State

By Rusty Miller

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 28 2011 4:54 p.m. MST

In 10 seasons as a head coach — two at Bowling Green, two at Utah and six at Florida — Meyer has a 104-23 record. His teams are 7-1 in bowl games, including the Gators' 41-14 victory over unbeaten and top-ranked Ohio State in the 2007 Bowl Championship Series title game.

Meyer initially denied all the talk about succeeding Tressel, saying he wasn't interested in leaving ESPN, where he was a college football analyst.

"He enjoyed what he was doing, but I think he also had the bug to start coaching again," ESPN broadcast partner and former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman said. "This was just an opportunity that he couldn't pass up."

Meyer inherits a young team led by freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, who would seem to be a perfect fit for his spread offense.

"We're putting a lot of pressure on this cat," Meyer joked. "He's special."

Ohio State's .500 record this season marked the most losses at Ohio State since John Cooper's 1999 team also went 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes already lost their string of six Big Ten titles when the school was forced to vacate the 2010 season for the NCAA violations. The school has also self-imposed two years of NCAA probation and offered to return $339,000 in bowl revenue from 2010 and to forfeit five scholarships over the next three seasons.

Ohio State is awaiting final word from the NCAA's committee on infractions. The committee tagged Ohio State with a "failure to monitor" label — second only to a lack of institutional control on the list of most egregious charges against a university. The school could still be hit with a bowl ban, a loss of more scholarships, or other penalties.

Ohio State President Gordon Gee was at Vanderbilt when Meyer was in the Southeastern Conference with Florida.

"I always viewed him the way many other coaches referred to him as being a goody two-shoes," Gee said in a phone interview. "He was called that because he always tried to do things right, and he was upset if others didn't try to do it right. I have always admired him."

But Meyer's teams have not always been so well behaved.

The Gators had 30 arrests involving 27 players during Meyer's six seasons.

Meyer left Utah for Florida after leading the Utes to a perfect season. He had a choice of either the Florida job or the Notre Dame job and he picked the Gators.

In his second season with the Gators, No. 2-ranked Florida beat unbeaten Ohio State, coached by Tressel, 41-14 to win his first national title.

Two years later, Florida won another national title, beating Oklahoma 24-14 behind Tim Tebow.

The next year Florida contended for a repeat, but after losing the SEC title game to Alabama, Meyer said he was retiring from coaching, citing health problems. He changed his mind and was back the next day, saying he would only take a leave of absence.

In addition to the deal he signed with Ohio State, Meyer's two daughters in college and young son also made him sign something. It promises that he won't overdo it, that he won't work too hard, that he'll take care of himself this time.

"This is a contract that my kids made me sign before I was allowed to sign a real contract," he said, holding up a pink slip of paper. "It's tougher than any other contract I've signed in my life."

Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap .

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