ARLINGTON, Texas - Happy Urban Meyer is back. Witty Urban Meyer. Storybook Urban Meyer. All the Urban Meyers that Ohio State hoped they'd get and none of the Urban Meyers that faced death and forced a reevaluation of the weight we place on college sports.
After the Buckeyes' 42-20 win over Oregon to seal Ohio State's first national championship since 2002, Meyer was asked if these Buckeyes, replete with all-star but underclass talent, had arrived to a title earlier than scheduled. Once the topic of what would come in 2015 was pressed, quarterback Cardale Jones interrupted.
"The chase is on!" Jones.
"No, this chase is over," Meyer replied. Media laughed.
When Meyer walked out of his press conference, he sped on a golf cart down the tunnel of AT&T Stadium, until a group of girls, including his daughter, chanted his name, as if to tease him.
"Ur-Ban Mey-Er," clap clap clap clap.
The golf cart stopped. A red-faced Urban embraced the daughter, who famously made him sign a quality of life contract on ESPN.
Back in his team's locker room, Meyer was caught by defensive end Joey Bosa, who pressed him on if he'd already performed "The Whip," as promised.
I learned what "the whip" was in our staff meeting this morning https://t.co/HDWde5Nb0c— Urban Meyer (@OSUCoachMeyer) January 3, 2015
"Later," Meyer said, noticing the mixture of media and event officials milling around.
"You have to do it," Bosa said.
"I will later," Meyer said again.
"OK then. Honesty, it's a core value in the program," Bosa said.
Really happy Urban Meyer won a national championship leaning on Ezekiel Elliott, a running back who didn't even place fourth on the Big Ten's all-conference teams, and a third-string quarterback who committed multiple turnovers in both Playoff games, yet repeatedly said after the game that the defense won the day.
It did. Luke Fickell's unit allowed Oregon to gain 465 on 71 plays. That total means absolutely nothing when you limit a team that scored 35 points on five Florida State turnovers in the Rose Bowl to 10 points in four opportunities, as Ohio State did on Monday night.
Oregon was an awful two of 12 on third down, largely because the Buckeyes continued to force the Ducks off schedule, meaning obvious pass situations over long distances. Senior defensive linemen Adolphus Washington said Ohio State used no single scheme to pressure Heisman winner Marcus Mariota (333 yards passing, 39 rushing, two touchdowns, one interception), but that the emphasis during OSU's prep was to get back into position as quickly as possible between downs.
"We didn't really practice more snaps to prepare," Washington said. "We just practiced getting back, cutting the time between the snaps. We knew we could do that. We weren't out of position or confused between plays, and it showed. They thrive on that."
"That's probably the one thing we got sick of hearing, that we couldn't be in shape to do this."
"You're not going to get players in any better shape in 10 days at the end of the season," Fickell said. "It's not about that, it's about getting them to believe they can handle the adversity. I had a friend in coaching call me one night earlier this week and I missed it because I was asleep. He said in the voicemail, 'Well, they must be ready to go and confident if you're asleep right now.'"
With Ohio State's lead cut to 21-20, Elliott and Jones would then induce absolute trauma on a 12-play, 75-yard drive in 6:39, which doubled any other scoring drive to that point in time of possession. Ohio State slowly bludgeoned Oregon, to use Mark Helfrich's own words. Acknowledging the 246 yards and four touchdowns Elliott earned on 6.8 yards per carry, the Oregon coach described the success of the Buckeye offense as "banging us with the run game."
"When you have [Elliottt being as fast and physical as he is, and then you trump that with a 200-whatever he is-55, -60-pound quarterback, those are three pretty good hammers when you add in the fly sweep game and some of the other stuff that they're able to do," Helfrich said.
A 10-point swing came on the heels of a Jones interception, on a pass tipped by the intended receiver, and then a wobbling, ghastly fumble reminiscent of Jameis Winston's gaffe in the Rose Bowl.
Meyer said he expected what he got. He called Jones, his third quarterback since August, a "case study on overcoming adversity," despite the brief volume -- three total games -- that such a study would draw from. More than anything else, the ability to be so bold about the understudy's understudy at quarterback, of all positions, has Happy Witty Urban Meyer peaking.
Country's best coach?
Shortly after that comment, Elliott produced a handful of confetti while Meyer was talking about Jones. He sprinkled it over the quarterback's head.
Meyer laughed and rolled his eyes, earning the same from the assembled media.
Sarah Glenn, Getty