PASADENA, Ca.--Victors get to write history so this is Urban Meyer's time and turn to put pad to pen, mark up the margins, make notations and even redact large sections.
And good for him if you think this is a redemption story.
Some do, some don’t.
Only a never-to-be-fully explained loss at Purdue, by 29 points, denied Meyer the ultimate revenge. And that was to title-game trophy stick it to every Tom and Dick who persecuted him through a season that began with a domestic abuse scandal involving an assistant, more unanswered questions than answered ones and a three-game suspension.
This season minus Purdue would have put Ohio State in the College Football Playoff with a chance to win a national title next Monday night in Santa Clara.
Right state, wrong venue.
Victory in the Rose Bowl on Tuesday, three nonsensical days after the national title semifinals, would have to suffice.
And over time, if Meyer sticks to his proposed retirement plan, this will go on the top of Memory Mountain.
This was still the Rose Bowl, under purple mountains and spacious skies. It was classic Big Ten vs. Pac 12. Thus, Ohio State’s 28-23 win over Washington allowed Meyer to bask in all the resplendent glory and confetti he could take in.
Game’s end found him doing a victory lap around the Rose Bowl parameter, wife Shelley under his wrapped arm. Urban climbed the Ohio State band-director’s ladder at one point in the North end and then ultimately walked out the south tunnel as a conquering hero.
Not a shabby first and last—if you believe him—Rose Bowl appearance.
“This has always been my bucket list,” he said. “…It was everything and more.”
Never mind that Ohio State almost blew a 28-3 lead and had to recover an onside kick, in the final minute, to preserve victory.
Washington finally woke up and offered plucky resistance, scoring three times in the fourth quarter to make things interesting.
Husky coach Chris Petersen, who doesn’t coach at Washington the way he coached in Boise, finally loosened up the game plan and almost, he said, called for a fake punt late in the game.
Washington was down 11 but, hey, this is as close as he gets now to the statue-of-liberty stuff he pulled in his riverboat days at Boise.
The present-day Pete ultimately punted, “the look wasn’t there.”
History writers in Columbus won’t dwell on the nitty-gritty details. Meyer’s legacy is signed, sealed and cemented.
His record as a coach, even among the pessimists and nationalists, leaves him one notch below Nick Saban in the modern era. Meyer won three national titles, at two different schools, in 17 total years of coaching.
He won at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State.
And now it's over if you believe he is through, at age 54, in the prime of his coaching life. Meyer has been honest about the toll football has taken on him.
“I might be more nuts than most,” he said at his post-Rose Bowl press conference.
He retired at Florida, remember, with the same exhaustion and cyst issues on his brain that caused penetrating headaches.
Nuts then, nuts now.
“I do believe I’m done,” Meyer reiterated.
Fans of USC, though, would be wise to take a temperature check if the Trojans start 3-3 next year (look at the schedule).
Meyer’s bow-out win Tuesday provided the whack-job bookend to a season that started in disrepair. It’s difficult to imagine a coach and a program pulling out of that deep, dark hole of July and August.
Meyer’s lies at Big Ten media day, the ones that got him in trouble, seem like 10 years ago. Meyer looked like a beaten man when he stood up and reluctantly accepted the three-game suspension handed down for his role in the Zach Smith fiasco\mess.
It takes a certain something to get from that to Tuesday’s celebration. Except for at Purdue, that inexplicable puzzle piece, this 13-1 season will go down as one of Meyer’s most miraculous accomplishments.
“When adversity strikes, people scatter,” he said, building on the narrative he gets to build.
Ohio State left Pasadena a winner, while Meyer left soul-cleansed and redeemed.
"What an up and down year," he said, though it was really "down" and then "up."
Meyer now hands his jeweled program over to assistant Ryan Day in a perfectly orchestrated succession plan. Just the way Bob Stoops, another proud Ohioan, did it at Oklahoma.
Urban will stay at Ohio State, as an emeritus, and teach a course in “Leadership and Character.”
Only in almost perfect, orchestrated endings can you write this kind of ending.
But Urban Meyer did it.
It was almost perfect.