While Urban Meyer was out on a walk one day this spring, the Ohio State coach’s thoughts weren’t just focused on his team’s defensive overhaul and the rebuilding of the offensive line. Instead, he said, he was thinking about the impact of football overall in the Buckeye state.
“I played high-school football (in Ashtabula), I played college football (at Cincinnati), and my son (Nate) is getting ready to play high-school football in this state,” Meyer said. “I just kept thinking how proud I am that my kid is going to play high-school football in Ohio. … I think people sometimes forget this is the birthplace of (pro) football.”
It’s why he instructed his staff to turn the 83rd annual Ohio State football coaches clinic into a celebration of sorts the next couple of days. Open to every manner of football coach, from grade school to the NFL, this year’s event will include keynote addresses from Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis tonight and new Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine on Friday morning.
The late Paul Brown, the football innovator who rose from Massillon High School to coach the Buckeyes to their first national title in 1942 before going on to help found and coach the Browns and Bengals, will be honored.
Also scheduled to appear is Larry Kehres, former coach at Mount Union, which he built into a perennial NCAA Division III power and “arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time,” Meyer said. Kehres had an astounding career record of 332-24-3 from 1986 to 2012, winning 11 Division III national titles.
“It’s really my obligation, and all of ours, to celebrate Ohio football,” Meyer said.
The clinic isn’t just about speeches and plaudits, though. There are instructional sessions, led by OSU assistant coaches and others, and an on-field clinic on Friday afternoon during an OSU practice headed toward the spring game on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs was once a high-school coach at Cincinnati Colerain. He has a feel for the benefit of such clinics.
“Here’s what it does for the high-school coach: It gives him access to our staff; it gives him access to what we do and access to the skills and techniques we teach,” Coombs said. “They’re going to get to stand right next to us in practice and watch that. There’s an incredible volume of learning that can take place, and not only from our staff but from speakers, like the two head coaches from the NFL teams in our state.”
Coombs vs. Drayton
Meyer said the coaches will divvy up the players today and set the rosters for the Scarlet and Gray teams for Saturday’s spring game. He said Coombs will serve as the head coach of one team and running backs coach Stan Drayton will lead the other.
As for whether one team will feature the first-team offensive line and the other the first-team defensive line, etc., Meyer wasn’t sure yet. But he did say one aim of the competition was to have “good go against good.”