COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer stepped down as Ohio State head coach on Tuesday.
Meyer will coach the final game of the season against Washington in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2, and offensive coordinator Ryan Day will be the new head coach of the Buckeyes.
Day replaced Meyer for the first three games of the season when Meyer was suspended for not disclosing the extent of wrongdoing by assistant coach Zach Smith.
Meyer, who denied friction with athletics director Gene Smith, plans to retire from coaching, according to a release from Ohio State distributed Tuesday morning.
“When recruits started asking me if I will be here in four or five years,” Meyer said during a press conference about factors that pushed him toward making a decision. “And Gene I both felt we had the right guy in Ryan.”
The 54-year-old Meyer said Gene Smith gave him until Tuesday to reach a decision and he gave him the answer in the morning. The two men met and Smith told Meyer “he would pull the plug on this thing” if Meyer wanted to continue as coach, but Meyer said that he wished to resign.
He also indicated he doesn’t plan to walk the sidelines again.
“I believe I will not coach again,” said Meyer, who will have a yet-to-be-determined role at the school.
The timing of Day’s emergence helped Meyer feel he could walk away at this time.
“My goal has always been to make this one of the premier and comprehensive programs,” Meyer said. “It has always been the goal to see a strong and healthy program handed to an elite coach and person to make it even better. I want to congratulate Ryan Day and his family.”
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Smith applauded Meyer’s level of success — he has an 82-9 record in seven seasons — and impact at Ohio State.
“What Urban has brought to Buckeye nation has by far exceeded expectations,” Gene Smith said. “Not only has he elevated the status and quality of our program, his presence elevated Big Ten football.
“He is a brilliant leader of men, his command of football strategy is second to none and he is a tireless leader. I support Urban in his desire to step aside as head coach.”
Meyer has a career record of 186-32 in 17 seasons, including stops at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.
Reports of Meyer’s retirement were denied by Gene Smith on Friday, a day before the Buckeyes beat Northwestern for the Big Ten championship. On the same day, Day told ESPN he planned to interview for other openings to become a head coach.
Meyer previously stepped down as head coach at Florida for health reasons. He said in August, and Ohio State’s medical staff confirmed, debilitating headaches are impacting him daily.
Meyer didn’t feel Tuesday was the day to dissect his legacy but he briefly touched on it.
“The truth is you have a football coach who devoted 33 years of my life to student athletes,” Meyer said. “I have never treated a player as No. 36. ...
“We won a lot of games and represented this great university and great state the right way.”
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Day guided the team to three victories during Meyer’s suspension. He said he is ready for the task of keeping the Buckeyes as an elite program.
“I’ve learned so much from you on a daily basis and will forever be in debt to you,” Day said to Meyer during the press conference. “You can now sit in a box and yell at us for not going for it or going for it on fourth down.
“It didn’t take long for me to figure out what the expectations were on Ohio State football. No. 1 — win the rivalry game (with Michigan). I take this responsibility very seriously.”
Meyer is excited about his final game.
“I look forward to working with my staff and players on preparing to play Washington in the Rose Bowl,” Meyer said. “It has always been a dream of mine and many of our coaches and players to compete in the Rose Bowl. It is going to be an honor to represent the Big Ten conference in that game.”