The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 25, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Meyer never forgets his roots

Sports Editor

Paying another visit to the variety store...

Home fires

Urban Meyer will be back in his hometown Monday to run his second annual Youth Football Clinic at the Spire Institute.

As expected, with luminaries such as Meyer, a 1982 St. John graduate and now the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and fellow Ashtabulan, Dean Hood, a 1982 Harbor High School graduate and the head coach at Eastern Kentucky University, the camp — named in their honor — was sold out before this week kicked off.

The camp is staged with the support of ESPN 970 WFUN and Dr. William A. Seeds.

Meyer was the featured speaker at the 15th annual Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame induction banquet at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville on Monday night and though he expressed much admiration for Holtz, who gave Meyer his start in coaching, he traced his journey toward becoming a football coach to his days as a St. John Herald, where he played for head coach Paul Kopko and his staff.

“My experience in Ashtabula, on my high school team, if you watch the way we practice, the way we handle our players, the way we love our players, the way we push our players, it's the same thing I learned in 1981-82 at Ashtabula St. John High School with the great coaching I had,” Meyer, who was a star wingback and defensive back for Kopko & Co., who went to the playoffs in his senior season in 1981, finishing 8-3, told Warren Tribune-Chronicle correspondent Mike Mathison.

“It was also the Woody Hayes Era,” Meyer told the audience. “The way he treated his players, the way a premium was placed on education, how he loved his players, how he pushed  them very hard to be excellent, not only in football, but off the field as well.”

Meyer spent two seasons at Illinois State, six more at Colorado State and then answered Holtz’s call when offered him the receiver’s coach position at Notre Dame.

“When Coach Holtz asks me to do something, I don’t say no,” he told the crowd Monday night in Wintersville.

In 2001, Meyer became a head coach, taking over at Bowling Green and staying there for two seasons and going 16-6 before moving on to Utah, where he spent the 2003 and 2004 campaigns, posting a 22-2 record, before taking over at the University of Florida.

He coached the Gators from 2005 through 2010, winning a pair of BCS National Championships and putting up a record of 64-15 before resigning because of health issues. Meyer spent the 2011 season as a color commentator for ESPN before taking over as head coach of the Buckeyes and leading them to a 12-0 season in 2012.

Meaning it’s all come full circle for Meyer as his first coaching job was at Ohio State in 1986 as a graduate assistant.

And he and tag-team partner Hood will continue to pay their hometown back Monday, when they, with help of other coaches, put on the second Urban Meyer-Dean Hood Youth Football Camp at Spire.

Help wanted

Mike Castrilla, honcho over at Softball City, is putting together a 50 years of slowpitch in Ashtabula package and needs some help, Loyal Readers.

He is looking for information such as league champions, etc. from the following summers:

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Mike at 998-4129.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at