"Urban took it harder than I did," she recalls. His connection to the old coach, however tenuous, helps reassure Ohio State fans—it makes Meyer seem like an ideological descendant of Woody—which, of course, he is not. While his roots are in the heartland, the Big Ten, Meyer's philosophy and methods were honed to a razor's edge in the SEC.
In the end it won't come down to how well he recruits, or how cunningly he deploys X's and O's. We know Meyer can do those things. His long-term success in Columbus will be determined by how he handles the tension between the demands of a huge job and the bullet points on the pink contract hanging on his office wall. Gene Smith is watching.
"I don't want him working long hours so much as I want him working smart hours," says the athletic director. "When I'm looking at those worksheets at the end of the fiscal year, and I see someone's only taken four or five days of vacation, that's a problem for me."
The early returns are encouraging. Last month Adam Breneman, a four-star tight end from Camp Hill, Pa., chose Penn State over Ohio State. Yet Meyer was all smiles when a visitor entered his office that day. Georgia Tech women's volleyball coach Tonya Johnson had moved her team's Senior Day to, coincidentally, the Buckeyes' bye week.
"I just got the call," effused Meyer. "I get to go to my daughter's Senior Day! How cool is that?"