By Doug Lesmerises
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Their workouts have made it obvious that Urban Meyer wants leaner bodies on his players. The Buckeyes gradually have learned they also need thicker skins.
“Oh yeah,” Ohio State senior tight end Jake Stoneburner said. “Stuff can’t be repeated, but he said some stuff that is obviously true but people wouldn’t usually say that to someone. But that’s his way of getting to people and it actually works.”
As Ohio State’s first-year football coach prepares to send his players into the summer, when only the OSU strength staff can have direct contact with the Buckeyes, he will do so with his voice ringing in their ears. Meyer met individually with each player at the end of spring practice, providing them with detailed, and what he called “brutally honest,” multi-page evaluations about their football, academic, strength room and off-field lives.
“It was pretty blunt,” said junior center Corey Linsley of Boardman. “The biggest thing was it was honest. He’s not going to sit there and say, ‘You do a pretty good job at this, you could get better.’ He’s going to say, ‘You suck at this, and you’re not doing well at that.’ It’s a really great way to put it. Otherwise you’re just BSing around and it’s not getting anybody better.”
By now, the players have an idea of what they’re getting with Meyer. Fans should, too. Meyer’s general rule is to criticize position groups, but not individual players, publicly. Ask the receivers or offensive linemen. He has been critical. And not that college football players aren’t used to get yelled out or called out privately, but the input with this coaching staff has been sharper than most were accustomed to. Meyer said his recent individual meetings with players were “sometimes very uncomfortable.”
“I’ve never been broken down that intently,” junior left tackle Jack Mewhort said. “It was great to get that reassessment of my whole life pretty much.
“I think blunt is a negative word. I think honest would be a better word to use. Straightforward. There’s no gray area.”
“One of the worst things that can happen between a coach and a player,” Meyer said, “is misunderstanding or cloudiness about what’s going on. We try to eliminate that.”
So while the Buckeyes can’t play in the Big Ten championship or in a bowl game after the 2012 regular season, which removes one typical motivation for players, they have other things driving them. The always-present desire to win every time you take the field. Personal pride after a rough 6-7 season.
And not wanting their coach to yell at them some more.