BIG TEN PLAYBOOK/Another Grueling Day for Meyer as Buckeyes Slip Past Maryland

Even at 10-1, cloud of doubt seems to hang over Ohio State and its coach

What are we going to do about Urban Meyer?

More important, what is Urban Meyer going to do about Urban Meyer?

Once again, he looked like he was auditioning for a Tennessee Williams  revival while the Buckeyes were escaping from Maryland 52-51 in overtime because unsung QB Tyrrell Pigrome couldn’t quite get the ball to his open receiver on a two-point conversion pass that would have won the game.

Asked if he was relieved that the Terrapins rolled the dice and went for two, Meyer said, “Relieved? I would have probably done the same thing if I was their coach, the way they were getting yards on us. Relieved we won.’’

I’m getting the impression Meyer will only find true relief when he puts down his Buckeye headset.  

Those scenes of him with his hands on his knees, head pointed to the turf, are such a statement. Whether there’s a medical explanation involved, or pure angst over an enigmatic football team—that doesn’t matter at this point.

The guy looks so miserable. There was a brief moment there, when Maryland was running a fake punt to perfection and Meyer was scooting down the sideline with the ball-carrier, that I thought he might go Woody Hayes on us and tackle the guy.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

But I’m thinking the thrill is gone. Maybe he’ll want to move on and maybe Ohio State will agree. Maybe it will even nudge him toward the door.

That three-game suspension for his handling of domestic-abuse allegations against a former assistant lingers. It has removed the high ground for Meyer and the Buckeyes.

No doubt, the man can coach. And he’s only 54. But the act is getting old in Columbus. Which is amazing in a way.

On the plus side, he is 80-9 at Ohio State, including 53-4 in Big Ten play. Think about those numbers.

And yet, the numbers being discussed in the aftermath of the Maryland Houdini act are of doom and gloom:

The Terrapins reeled off four plays of more than 50 yards: runs of 81, 75 and 52 yards, and a 56-yard pass. They have allowed 20 plays of 40 or more yards this fall, as many as they gave up in the last three years combined, The Athletic noted.

“Alarming’s the right word,’’ Meyer said when asked about his vulnerable defense.

Also of note: Since Meyer’s season debut in a 49-6 pounding of Tulane, Ohio State has looked vulnerable in every game it has played. Shaky first halves, leaky defense, that 49-20 disaster at Purdue.

Actually, you could argue that the Buckeyes played their best football in the opening three games, when interim coach Ryan Day was calling the game-day shots. And let’s not forget that Day reportedly is the designated “coach in waiting,’’ and never mind that Ohio State AD Gene Smith denied the report.

Health reasons contributed to Meyer walking away from Florida after the 2010 season.

Who could argue if his departure from Columbus was spun that way again?

Maybe he’ll stay. Coaches, athletes and Presidents with his baggage and turmoil have soldiered on, because they’re doing what they love to do.

I may be wrong but I don’t get that feeling with Meyer. A repeat of the Florida exit—take a year off and return to another big-time program—makes a lot of sense.

The weird part is, before the domestic-abuse scandal, he was in the discussion for best three active coaches in college football with those guys in Tuscaloosa and Clemson.

The other weird part is that Ohio State is 10-1. And while The Game against Michigan—which has a Capital D Defense—looks ominous, if the Buckeyes win that, they could still sneak into the College Football Playoff. And then, who knows?

That all seems far-fetched at this point. What would be less surprising: Ohio State football under new management in 2019.

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