Jan. 13, 2015
An Interview With: URBAN MEYER, CARDALE JONES and TYVIS POWELL
URBAN MEYER: Well, thank you for being here, and on behalf of our coaching staff, administration and most importantly, our players, I want to really thank the College Football Playoff, Mr. Hancock and the committee, and this is uncharted waters, a lot of skepticism, especially when you started thinking about how logistically you would turn this out. The hotel we stayed at, the city of Dallas, I mean, it’s been perfect. And for year one run at this, and it even worked out with our fans, and I was very concerned about our players’ families, I think that still needs to be have some serious conversation with Dr. Emmert. I can’t the gratitude I have that people are really, really thinking, thinking about the right things. It’s not always about the corporate America, it’s not always about the money, it’s about the guys to my left over here that put on an incredible show. That was great for college football, and I think we all any conversations ever going to be made about playoffs, about this great game, the first thing needs to be the student athlete. I feel that happening. I see that happening, and it’s the right thing. I have an incredible athletic director that played college football, understands the players, and I think that’s the big reason our players play so hard, because they know that we respect what they do. We’re very hard on them, we push them very much, but it’s all because we love them and care about them and want what’s best for them. We work as hard as we can for life after football, which is a big part of it, as well. A very big thanks to all the people involved, and with that, I’ll certainly answer your questions.
Q. Urban, I know you mentioned that there were a couple players who came to you, Taylor and Adolphos, who said that they were staying. Have you had any conversations with anybody about an early entry to the NFL Draft, and do you anticipate that you might over the next couple of days, in particular Cardale?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, I had breakfast with Cardale. We had just a great conversation, but nothing about that. I’m sure there’s a lot going on. I mean, it’s kind of cool to be sitting here using the word NFL next to Cardale’s name. I will tell you this: He could play in the NFL. He certainly has a talent. Is he ready right now? That’s a chat I guess we’ll go have at some point, probably not right here in front of everybody. You might enjoy that.
But this is why we do what we do, to see guys a theme that we have around our facility, it’s never too late to change. Some guys change when they’re 50 years old, it’s too late. Other guys change when they’re going through the journey like we all did when we’re 17 to 21 years old, 22 years old in his case. Very proud of him. But we have not had that conversation yet.
Q. Urban and Cardale and Tyvis, could you talk about your emotions, and what was last night like afterward, and has it sunk in?
TYVIS POWELL: Well, for me it was like a dream come true, just to see us going out there and sending the seniors out with their last victory, that’s just the greatest feeling in the world. This whole season for me was dedicated to the seniors. They was great leaders, great captains, and it was just an overwhelming feeling just to know that they got their last victory and they’re national champions.
CARDALE JONES: Like Tyvis said, it was just a dream come true. This feeling is unreal right now because three or four months ago everybody counted us out. They said we wouldn’t be here at this point in our careers, in the season, and the way that we were smiling through all that, it was just unbelievable.
Q. Urban, without knowing exactly some of the future plans of your players, what’s the best scouting report you can give on what your team will look like next year and what you think it might be capable of?
URBAN MEYER: Well, I think we’ll be very good. I think we have to watch for complacency in the program, and we’re going to watch that very closely. We have a little bit of transition of coaching staff. This is a very complicated machine, college football, when you start thinking about all the different hurdles that are along the journey, and so it’s just I have an incredible staff. My right hand man is Mickey Marotti, so we’ll visit today at some point and start putting our calendar together and having conversations with players about futures. It’s a very complicated machine. The good thing about Ohio State right now, I don’t feel the outside influence. That’s the one negative of college football right now where you start even mentors or gurus or people start showing up, and Cardale and I talked about that. Cardale’s brand right now has never been stronger, might never be stronger again in his life. There’s a lot of uncles, aunts, and so called uncles and aunts and third parties trying to get involved, and the negative is a lot of times when you’re that young, that influences you. So I’m worried about that with our program. I watching it very closely, and I’m going to visit with each individual because there’s some very, very talented guys on our team right now, very talented. The human element is very dangerous if those talented individuals open up to people that have their own they have their own desires or their own they’re trying to gain something from it.
Q. Following up on that, how difficult is it in this day and age to repeat, to do it again, because you’ve been through that a couple of times. You’ve got a young team. What’s the biggest challenge?
URBAN MEYER: Tough questions, man. We just won a championship. (Laughter.)
I don’t know. I’ve got a bunch of really good players. I love our coaching staff. The word repeat, we’ll have that conversation, certainly not today. It’s about enjoying it. Elite warriors, which I consider these guys, these guys I hope could answer this question because it’s been driven into them for about a year, elite warriors, when they accomplish their mission, they celebrate. The next thing they do is learn from it, and then the final thing is they look forward to the next mission, next assignment. Right now we’re in the celebration phase. Eventually we’re going to get to the learn from it phase, and then the next guys like this wait for the next mission. So that’s the pattern we’re going to have, and repeat, and those kinds of things, that’s certainly not in the conversation right now.
Q. You mentioned your players’ potential for the NFL. Is there a time in the future potentially down the road where you think that’s a challenge you might want to take on, and what would that take, and what would you think about it?
URBAN MEYER: I’m not sure I understand the question, players in the NFL?
Q. Would you in the future consider for yourself going to coach in the NFL?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, myself? Not right now. Not right now. I’ve got a commitment to Ohio State and these players. I love what I’m doing. Not right now.
Q. Coach, last night you were speaking about Ezekiel and you mentioned that he had a good family, and clearly you felt a connection with him. I was wondering if you could talk briefly about how you came upon him since he’s not from Ohio, and I know he’s bulked up a lot since high school, and if you foresaw that and if this is what you were expecting when he signed on with you.
URBAN MEYER: Great story. Stacy and Don, they’ve had Thanksgiving dinner at my house the last two years. They’re incredible people. Don is my favorite. Stacy has moved up the chain a little bit. He was a guy they’re both Missouri grads, great school, and we almost walked away from that one because it was a great story. His dad got real involved, and his dad’s issue is that he loves his son so much that he was right in the middle to the point where it drove us nuts. Obviously we’re glad that we did not walk away because Zeke is a wonderful guy. He’s got it all. He’s got it all. In his life, football won’t be the most important thing as he continues to grow. He’s going to be a great family man. I can see it in his eyes. Obviously he was raised the right way. So it’s a great story.
We had high expectations for Zeke because we took him early, and there’s other running backs that were thinking about wanting to get involved, and Zeke’s dad was you guys are recruiting another running back, and making sure he was the only running back we’d recruit. Just a great story. It was all good, though. At the end of the day, incredible people, incredible friends, and more importantly, incredible parents to a young man that’s got a brilliant future.
Q. Cardale, most players who make some type of NFL decision weren’t where you were a month and a half ago. How difficult does that make being put in this situation where you may have to consider jumping to the NFL, and how odd is it for you that you are facing a decision like this?
CARDALE JONES: I mean, it’s very odd. You know, I’m going to be starting three games in three years, and you know, guys play their whole career to have that build up and have that motivation to play in the NFL. In my personal opinion, I’m not ready for that level yet. I mean, like Coach Meyer said, it’s a conversation me and him will have later down the road. But to me right now, it’s far out.
Q. Urban, you’ve been through this before. After you win a National Championship, you’ve already been bringing great recruiting classes in to Ohio State. What’s it like now when you go out on the recruiting trail and you have a National Championship ring with you?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, it’s the door’s open. You move to the front of the line. You have to really work, though. We go out, I believe, on Thursday recruiting, and I look to one of our coaches, Kerry Coombs and I are sitting there, and I said, man, I can’t wait to go out recruiting. You can’t recruit to this now, you’re officially a bad recruiter, and not just because of the championship. There’s just so much going on in our program right now on the positive side, and it’s not theory, it’s testimony, and the greatest testimony is right over here. Those are our biggest salesmen, not just football, but the whole life after football approach we take, all the leadership training, all the cutting edge stuff that this program has taken on.
Q. The idea that you guys turned it over four times last night and you’re here, how difficult is that to do what you guys did when you turn it over four times?
CARDALE JONES: You should ask Tyvis that. The way the defense was playing, when we turned the ball over, it was never of course we put them in some messed up situations. Of course we messed up our O line because they was doing a heck of a job all night, but the way the defense was playing, we didn’t have a choice. We didn’t have to hang our hats low on turnovers because we felt in our hearts that our defense would stop these guys and forcing them to get field goals was considered a stop for us.
Q. Urban, your description of Zeke’s recruiting, both teams last night have done a really good job of spreading nationally in their approach to recruiting. Is that something that’s not going away, and if so, why? And the other question is did you give any thought to taking a knee at the end of the game, and what made you decide not to?
URBAN MEYER: First question, we certainly are going to recruit in the footprint of Ohio and do the very best we can. I think when you cherry pick, which is what we call it, certainly we don’t recruit St. Louis A to Z and saturate the area. Same with a lot of other areas. There are certain states that just by quality and quantity you go, the Texas, the Georgia, the Florida, the Jersey, those are off the top of my head that we’re going to saturate a little bit, but then we go cherry pick the best players at certain positions, and Ohio State is a national brand. I think it’s always been done there. Of course it’s been a national brand and a national recruiting base, but we’re always going to attack our local areas first. I think you see that when you see a breakdown of the class, you’d like to have 50 percent or more from the state of Ohio or within the footprint, and then you’re going to go cherry pick. You’re going to go find the best players like an Ezekiel, if he fits what you want to do. He can catch, he can block, and obviously he can run.
The second thing, I didn’t even think about taking a knee. I can’t even tell you the situation. I know we got I’m trying to even visualize what happened. But we play to win and we play to be aggressive in what we do, so that didn’t even I didn’t hear it over the headsets, and I certainly didn’t think about it at that time.
Q. In the four biggest bowl games for the Big Ten this year, Michigan State beat Baylor, Auburn beat Wisconsin, you beat Alabama and Oregon in back to back games. How important was that not only for Ohio State to get back to the top but for the Big Ten?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, I think it’s huge. Football is cyclical, first of all, and I think the Pac 12 has got a great conference right now because we got to see them on videotape getting ready for this game. I still think top to bottom, we have some work to do in our conference, but it’s moving. I see the running back Indiana goes and beats Missouri and they have a great coach in Kevin Wilson, some really good players. I see that program moving. You see Purdue made a great jump this year. But those are all the programs that historically when the Big Ten was the best, those teams were all the nine win, 10 win and even some more. I see a lot of aggressive approaches, which is you have to be. I think the days are done when it’s sit back and I see a lot of aggressive recruiting and some really good stuff going on in our conference. I’m a huge fan when I was cheering like mad for Wisconsin because I just thought it legitimizes everything that these guys did. You’ve been told you’ve been bad for so long, at times the psychologist part of it takes over. You start believing you’re not very good, and that’s not true at all. The same thing with the quality of football. High school football players in the North and the Midwest, they’re great. Is the quantity a little bit lesser? Sure, the quantity is, but not the quality. The quality is outstanding, and I think that was a testimony of what happened in that game, the last few games.
Q. Urban, obviously there are a lot of elements that went into your victory last night, but did you think the biggest disparity between the two teams was y’all were more physical than they were?
URBAN MEYER: I think that’s something, our line got more physical and improved throughout the course of the year, and that’s kind of who we are. Ohio State has always been, that’s the style of program that’s always been who we are. We’ll say I hear people say we’re a spread offense, but it’s a line of scrimmage league. We’re a line of scrimmage we always have been. You win on the offensive line and defensive line. When we get on a plane first class, the quarterback doesn’t sit up there. Who sits up there?
CARDALE JONES: The offensive line.
URBAN MEYER: Quarterbacks eat last, or the receivers do. But the offensive line the special teams guys and offensive line and defensive line are very well taken care of in the program because that’s who’s you want to go lose a game, you get beat up up front, so I think our guys did a very good job against a team that we thought their style of defense and the two defensive ends and the nose guard were outstanding players, and we felt like that was going to be rugged, and it was rugged. But our guys really did a good job.
Q. Your first two national titles were won at Florida. This one was as you call it for the great state of Ohio. Reading the comments of your family saying this is something that you always wanted, does it mean more?
URBAN MEYER: Well, that’s not fair because in 2006 that’s still probably the most special because that was the first one. That was a group of kids the Brandon Silers of the world, the Dallas Bakers of the world we’re forever attached. The second one was a great team, a team that was the best team in America pretty much start to finish after the Ole Miss loss, and then this one was a team that kind of came out of nowhere. To answer your question, to start comparing this one versus that one, that will never happen. Is there a little zest to it that you grew up in the great state of Ohio that you see guys from your high school show up the night before at the game, and we talked about when we were Buckeye fans in grade school and to see your coaches and people you grew up with and your sisters who grew up in the state of Ohio and live in Ohio, it’s very special, very special.
Q. Urban, I think we’d all agree that if Cardale comes back you’re well stocked at quarterback. I’m just wondering, J. T. last night was talking about competition and saying he thought all the quarterbacks would be back, didn’t think anybody would transfer. I’m curious what your sense of that situation is, and I’m also curious for Cardale the competition J. T. was talking about. Do you guys like that, feel good about that?
URBAN MEYER: Well, I’m not ready at some point I think I’ll be ready to comment on it and have that conversation. Right now it’s not. We’re still reveling in the win and no sleep, and I want these players to really appreciate it, because I am. It’s something I’ve learned over my journey is going to enjoy this darned thing. How do I do that? I enjoy being around Tyvis and Cardale and these players. At some point there will be some conversations, and I think you guys know by now we’re pretty transparent about everything we do, and at the appropriate time we’ll have those conversations.
Q. Can each of you describe the impact it makes on you when an Urban Meyer takes over a program like yours, imposes his structure, leadership seminars, things like that, and how does it impact you, and how serious does the business of college football become?
TYVIS POWELL: Well, for me, Coach Meyer has a great history. Everybody knows that he’s a great coach. But you know, coming in and learning the things that he taught about us just being selfless and like playing for each other, I mean, that’s just something that I’m going to take for the rest of my life because when you play for somebody else, it’s like you play even harder, and that’s what I think helped this team get to where we’re at because everybody started playing for selfless reasons, started playing for each other, and the leadership just took over, and the team just became unbelievable.
CARDALE JONES: Yeah, the way that Coach Meyer motivates, teaches, and demands the best out of each player in different ways is unbelievable. You know, he dealt with me and Tyvis in different ways. He gets the best out of us in different ways. Even in the same room as far as the quarterbacks, so the way that he demands and gets the best out of us is second to none, and that’s why we’re sitting here today.