The reviews were mixed for Urban Meyer’s first stint as a college football broadcaster, with ESPN in 2011.
As Meyer prepares for another broadcasting role with Fox Sports this fall, executives at the network have voiced more optimism for the former Ohio State coach’s aptitude behind the microphone.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune published Wednesday, Fox Sports president Mark Silverman addressed Meyer’s previous tenure by noting, “I think he was still in the coaching mode, in between jobs.”Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
Indeed, Meyer was in a sort of coaching sabbatical in 2011. He had retired at Florida after the previous season before returning to the sideline at Ohio State in 2012.
Now 55, Meyer has reiterated in several interviews this offseason that he thinks this retirement will stick. After leading the Buckeyes for seven seasons, he cited health issue for stepping down after last season, namely an arachnoid cyst in his brain that worsened through the stress and pressure from the demanding job.
“This is what he is focused on,” Silverman said. “I’ve noticed a looseness and an enjoyment. He’s coachable. And I think these guys will bring out a side of Urban that people have not seen.”
Meyer’s new role will differ from when he was an ESPN analyst, providing color commentary during its televised games. At Fox, Meyer will serve as a studio analyst for an hour-long pregame show that will air opposite ESPN’s “College GameDay.”
Meyer is to be joined by former Southern California stars Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart and former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. Silverman referred to the grouping as a “dream team.”
Joel Klatt, a former quarterback for Colorado who is also an analyst for Fox Sports, told the Tribune that much of Meyer’s success will hinge on whether he can be blunt with viewers.
“The transition for any coach or player is to be willing to praise and criticize — whether it’s teams, players or other coaches — without in the back of their mind thinking: How does this play in those venues?” Klatt said. “It’s the point of demarcation.”
Mack Brown drew criticism for his hesitancy to criticize coaches during his stint as an analyst with ESPN. Brown, the former national championship-winning coach at Texas, took over at North Carolina this offseason.
Meyer didn’t exactly concur with Klatt’s approach, he told the Tribune.
“I hear that all the time, and I don’t necessarily agree with all that,” Meyer said. “I’m going to focus on the game, the performance and that’s it. There’s nothing personal. It seems everyone wants to ask that question: Can you be critical?
“Being personal, taking shots at players or coaches, that will not happen. However, I can be critical of a moment, decision-making and those types of things. My job is to analyze. If to be a great sportscaster, you have to hammer people, then I’m in the wrong … I have no intent to do that. Have too much respect for college athletes, college coaches and livelihoods.”