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Ohio State's Head Football Coach Set To Retire Next Month

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

One of the most successful college football head coaches in history is retiring. Ohio State's Urban Meyer says the Rose Bowl coming up on New Year's Day will be his last game with the Buckeyes. There is no disputing Meyer's success in nearly two decades of head coaching at Ohio State and three schools before that. But there has been controversy as well, including during this, his final season. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Urban Meyer is only 54, and he's retired before. After he led the University of Florida to two national titles, he said he was leaving due to health reasons. That was 2010. In 2011, he took the job at The Ohio State University. So it was valid to ask at Meyer's retirement press conference yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Urban, as you sit here now, do you believe you will not coach again?

URBAN MEYER: I believe I will not coach again.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Are you fairly certain?

MEYER: Certain, yes.

GOLDMAN: He says an accumulation of factors led to his decision. One in particular...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: Developing news surrounding The Ohio State football program and specifically the health of head coach Urban Meyer, who opened up...

GOLDMAN: That October report on the Big Ten Network detailed the debilitating headaches Meyer has suffered for years. He had brain surgery in 2014 for a cyst that caused the headaches. This season began with added stress. Meyer was suspended three games for not adequately dealing with a former assistant coach whose history of bad behavior included alleged domestic abuse. Meyer was asked if the scandal affected his health.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

MEYER: That was a very difficult time, but as difficult a time that was, that didn't have an impact as much on the headaches, but it did have an impact.

GOLDMAN: Before Ohio State, his six years coaching at Florida also were a mix of on-field success and off-the-field trouble. A reported 31 Florida players were arrested under Meyer's watch. All of the incidents from Columbus to Gainesville are notable because Urban Meyer always has stressed the importance of character, and he has always won football games. His overall head coaching record is 186 wins and only 32 losses at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. That gives him the third-highest winning percentage ever among major college coaches who coached at least 10 years. His record at Ohio State is 82 and nine, including a perfect 7-0 record against hated rival Michigan and another national title. The numbers make for a great legacy. Meyers says he wants to be remembered for his decades of devotion to players.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

MEYER: It can't be number 78. It can't be that guy. It's got to be his first name, his last name, where he's from, his family, his sister, his brother and what he does after this football career is over. Once those players know that you have that genuine love and care for them, they'll move mountains for you.

GOLDMAN: Ohio State now will ask players to move mountains for Ryan Day. The Buckeyes' assistant coach replaces Urban Meyer January 2. Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.