Jim Tressel was adept at saying a lot without saying anything, an eloquent speaker who could fill time but not notebooks.
Urban Meyer? So far, the football media gods appear to have delivered a winner.
To wit: After Meyer answered a question Wednesday during a half-hour meeting with reporters, he added, “I hate to be so brutally honest.” Then he continued to be brutally honest.
A sampling of Meyer from Wednesday:
On the Ohio State receivers: “Probably the most unprepared group I've ever dealt with.”
On the offense early in the spring: “Our guys have been instructed not to watch that tape because it was a clown show.”
On the reason for moving Chris Carter from the offensive line to the defensive line: “He wasn’t really producing.”
Meyer’s candidness with the media is a blast of fresh air, and I sense we're only getting a small taste of his analysis. Behind closed doors, Meyer said his assessments are not always easy to hear, as some players learned the hard way when their football report cards came out over the past weeks. Meyer scheduled 15-minute evaluation meetings with every man on the roster, sitting them down to go over reviews from their strength coach, academic adviser and position coach. Not all earned boffo marks.
Meyer said a meeting might begin with the following: “You’re not very good in the weight room.. You’re weak here, weak here, weak here. Your energy level is too low.”
On to academics: “Our people grade you a 6 out of 10, which means you’re failing right now. That’s not very good. As opposed to [fullback] Zach Boren, it's by the way you’re a 9, keep going, keep going. Or C.J. Barnett, you’re a 9.5, keep going.”
Meyer then goes over the evaluation from the players’ position coach.
"We do mental ability, physical ability and then off-the-field behavior and everything else,” Meyer said. “I’ll tell them exactly where they’re at. Sometimes it’s very uncomfortable. Other meetings are what they expect. I’ve always believed that one of the worst things that can happen between a coach and a player is some misunderstanding and some cloudiness about what’s going on. We try to eliminate that with all our evaluations.”
Meyer also left little room for interpretation in his take on a number of different topics in his post-spring media briefing. A few more of Meyer's thoughts:
On the formula for success: “Talent will get you about seven or eight wins, discipline will start pushing that to nine and then you get leadership and that’s when the magic starts happening. That’s when you start getting rings and some really cool things happening to your team. Talent, I say there’s enough talent here to win some games. Discipline, we’re still evaluating that. And leadership is not where it needs to be.”
On the spring development of sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller: “He’s come a long way … just his want-to. I hate to stereotype a guy as the typical really good high school player. But I got that sense when I I first got here. He’s kind of a cool guy. I’m going to go lift weights and take care of my business as opposed to no, you’re going to finish first in every drill, you’re going to be the first one in the office, you’re going to do extra work, you’re going to come in and ask for cut-ups of spring practice. You’re going to push yourself to be the best, and he’s doing that now.”
On Chris “Big Hungry” Carter, a 358-pound redshirt freshman who moved from the offensive line to defensive tackle midway through the spring: “He wasn’t really producing on offense, and he wanted a shot. He did pretty good. Our whole thing with him is conditioning and he’s doing that as we speak. He’s in the conditioning mode. If he can learn to get himself in shape, he’ll play here. If not, no chance.”
On the importance of the 'intangibles': "Toughness and leadership and competitiveness are so much more important to me than vertical jump, speed throwing motion, the whole deal. Football is the same as it was 100 years ago. The toughest and the team that’s most committed is going to find a way to win. When we go recruit and we elevate people to a certain status around here, it’s because of their competitive nature and going about it the right way more than anything else."
On the importance of leadership at quarterback: "The greatest definition I’ve heard of leadership is when he sets a standard and demands everyone around him lives up to it. If we get that out of Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton, you’ll see our throwing game be much improved this year. If you don’t, you’ll see it fail."