It was a celebration of sorts, or as close as you can get to one in a January that follows a 6-7 season and precedes a season without the possibility of a bowl game.

It was a celebration of sorts, or as close as you can get to one in a January that follows a 6-7 season and precedes a season without the possibility of a bowl game.

One by one, the new members of Urban Meyer's Ohio State coaching staff met with reporters yesterday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, and their energy level could have fueled a rocket to Mars.

The stale air that had lingered for the past 12 months was gone. The new coaches seemed bright and enthusiastic and made an impression to match their football resumes.

It's a bit much to call Meyer's staff a "dream team." Even he acknowledged that any true evaluation couldn't be made for years, but it felt as though the label was fitting in a couple of ways. More than one of the new hires used the word dream to describe what it meant to be a coach at Ohio State.

"I told somebody this morning," offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said, "I'm like a pig in slop right now. It's been awesome."

An Ohio State fan depressed by recent developments would have been buoyed by the positive vibe throughout the 90-minute session. The six hires all seemed as though they would be in demand at most college programs, even if they didn't have the rich football backgrounds that each has compiled.

When Meyer was asked how close he came to assembling his ideal staff, he smiled.

"I don't think I had a 'no,' " Meyer said. "Not like recruiting, where I've had a few 'no's' already. I think it's close. I'd like a little time and I'll give you a little stronger opinion of them after spring practice, but my opinion of them right now is very strong.

"On offense, there are two of them I've worked with, two of five. On defense, I'm oh-fer, right? Scary stuff."

He smiled when he said that, too, so it's really not so scary. The overriding impression of the event was unmistakable: It really is a different day.

"It's Ohio State," receivers coach Zach Smith said. "(Meyer) had nine slots open and he basically could have said, 'All right, who should I put there?' He could have gone through the directory and picked the best of the best. That's what Ohio State should have. It's definitely an awesome staff and an awesome feeling to be part of it."

At 26, Smith is the youngest and least experienced member of the group. He is a Dublin native and grandson of former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, so his "awesome" feelings are understandable. But in one way or another, all of the coaches said the same thing. They are glad for the opportunity and believe that great things are going to happen.

"What you see and feel daily is there are a lot of ideas in our staff room," said Everett Withers, the co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, adding that there are coaches "who have done a lot of different things in different places."

The only ones not bubbling like a mountain spring were Mickey Marotti, assistant athletic director for football sports performance, and Meyer himself. They were a team at Florida and have a vision of what needs to be done. Improving the players' work ethic might be one of those things.

"It's OK," Meyer said, when asked for his first impressions of that. "It's hard for me to make a strong statement because I don't know. I will do that when I see it. I think it's average right now. … Three days into it, I could walk around and say that it was decent. The first day (after the Gator Bowl) I kind of had a sick feeling, like, 'What was that I just watched?' It has been better. It's all expectation of what coach Mick has them do. They've got a clearer picture of what he expects of them now."

Marotti left Florida to rejoin Meyer and wasn't scheduled to be working with the players just yet.

"We were supposed to start next week, but we pushed it up a little bit," Marotti said.


"I just get antsy," he said. "I just get antsy. It's time to go."

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.