Though his hiring has been known for a while now, it’s still jarring to see Mack Brown be the one interviewing someone else. It’s fitting that his media career begins with an interview of Urban Meyer, a friend, and someone who interviewed him back during Meyer’s 2011 coaching sabbatical.
Mack is full Mack throughout the interview, telling Meyer, “you go to Florida and win two national championships. I told you to leave after the first one, it’s nearly impossible to win two at one school and you did that.” Brown asks what separated his 2004 Utah team, his two title winners at Florida and his 2012 undefeated Ohio State team from the rest.
“It’s not the style of offense, defense,” Meyer said. “When I hear people criticize, ‘They have bad players, they have this.’ Everybody has good players. It’s when you get that team that everybody dreams of, that hungry team that cares about each other.”
Meyer was then asked about the four days he spent with Chip Kelly. While the schematic conversations were surely enough to make the layman’s head spin, Meyer said the most he learned from Kelly was the importance of hydration. “Coach Kelly and I have been friends a long time. I was at Utah when he was at New Hampshire and he came and saw us,” he said. “I think he’s an extremely intelligent person. He’s a push-the-envelope guy when it’s talking about student-athlete welfare or the player welfare, and so the sports performance part is incredible. About dehydration, the brain is 80 percent water, your body’s 75 percent water. I’m a football coach, and now that I know that, you’re not allowed to practice here if you’re not hydrated. We do testing every day with our players. We are so sold on this, my entire program, our staff is.”
What unites Brown and Meyer, what makes their respect so mutual, is their all encompassing love and devotion to football. These two men have suffered for football, tortured themselves for the game they love. And they’d do it all again in heartbeat, because they know no other way. Theirs is an understanding that only the people who climbed that mountain can realize.
“I think the year off made me realize how much I love players,” Meyer said when asked why he continues to coach. “I love being a part of the journey with them, and team-building. This is my favorite time of year. Most people say it’s awful. “I live in a hotel with our players. I see them before they go to bed, I see them when they wake up. I see their families, I can tell when something’s wrong. There’s certain parts of coaching I can’t stand; I just learn to move on. I’m not going to let that get in the way. I’m going to have fun now. I’m going to walk out after this, go hug my players, make sure they’re eating, go take pictures with their families and all that. I’m not going to let someone take that away from me.”