Why does success always follow Urban Meyer?

Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer has now won three national championships during his college football coaching career. What is the secret to his success?

Sharon Ellman/AP
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is dunked during the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Oregon on Monday in Arlington, Texas. Ohio State won, 42-20.

Winning a college football national championship is a huge deal, but Ohio State's Urban Meyer has been here before. 

He has 'been there' and led an obscure Utah team to an undefeated 2004 season and made his quarterback Alex Smith a first overall NFL draft pick.

He has 'done that' and resurrected the University of Florida Gators into a national juggernaut, taking home two national titles coming out of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), one of the nation's most competitive.  

Now he is on top of the college football universe again, winning a national championship at the school he attended for a masters degree in sports management. Wherever Meyer has coached, success seems to follow.

His first head coaching job was at Bowling Green University in 2001 where he turned around a 2-9 team from the previous year and won eight games, followed by a 9-3 record. In 2003 he moved onto Utah. His stint there was capped off by that undefeated season and a Fiesta Bowl victory.

At Bowling Green and Utah, he perfected the offense that would serve him well at Florida and now Ohio State. Recruiting is the life-support system for college coaches and very few persuade in the manner Meyer does, according to a story on Grantland, ESPN's Bill Simmons' website. He'll spend hours alone with the student and he is an excellent closer when he senses his charm working on a recruit. In the same story, it examines Meyer's willingness to recruit outside of the Midwest and get coveted players out of the South that would most likely be playing at a SEC school.   

Coaching for six years in the SEC at Florida established him as an elite tactician, and his recruiting prowess landed him some of the best high school prospects in the country, let alone the talent-rich South.  

Meyer incorporated a read-option wrinkle and pre-snap motion to the "West Coast" offense that primarily relies on short passes to three receivers spread out with the quarterback in the shotgun formation and less on a running game.

The Ohio native has continually enjoyed the fruits of his recruiting because he brings in the perfect players for his system. This is demonstrated by the quarterbacks he has played when his teams experience the most success. From Smith at Utah to Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at Florida and now Braxton Miller, J.T. Sullivan and Monday night's hero Cardale Jones at Ohio State.

All of these players mastered reading defenses on the snap and whether to hand off or pull the ball and run on option plays. They were all good enough passers to succeed in college. Smith is the only one of Meyer's quarterbacks to experience some level of success at the NFL level and does not possess a rocket arm, but he has a high enough football IQ to not make mistakes and can manage the game. 

Meyer fancies himself as a real players' coach and balancing when to reign in his players versus taking a hands-off approach has not always yielded the best results. At Florida Meyer would take risks on some players, like former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is currently on trial for murder, and hope the team leadership and the privilege of playing college football would keep his players in line. This was not always the case, as 31 of his players were arrested between 2005 and 2010.

His critics claim that he is the used car salesman-type of recruiter who will say anything and promise the world for a high school star, then let them run wild as long as they can stay on the field. It has led some to speculate if his inability to discipline his players at Florida was a a motivating factor in him choosing to "retire" from coaching in 2010 after winning 65 games in six seasons with the Gators, according to a story in the Sporting News. 

Meyer has told multiple media outlets he is not considering a jump to the NFL. And as long he is able to coach in college, Meyer will continue rack up the recruits, victories and titles. 

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