Citing health reasons, Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer abruptly announced his retirement at a news conference Tuesday.
“The style of coaching I’ve done for 33 years is very intense, very demanding. I tried to delegate more and CEO more and the product started to feel …,” he said, not finishing his thought. “I didn’t feel I was doing right by our players and by Gene (Smith, the athletic director).”
Meyer’s final game is set to be at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2019, when the Buckeyes take on Washington. The university plans to announce offensive coordinator Ryan Day as Meyer’s permanent replacement, according to officials. Day coached the Buckeyes earlier this season, while Meyer served a suspension.
Meyer said he felt good that Day will take over as the 25th coach of the storied program.
“You want to hand it off to someone who could make it stronger,” Meyer said.
The 54-year-old Meyer has been battling an arachnoid cyst on his brain and had brain surgery in 2014 to drain it, according to Cleveland.com.
At the packed news conference, Meyer, who had shown obvious effects of being in pain on the sideline this season, explained that headaches became severe last season during Ohio State’s game at Penn State and have become a persistent problem this season.
While Meyer had repeatedly stated his intentions to coach next season, he revealed to Cleveland.com in October his condition was serious. He added he had no intentions of coaching anywhere else but Ohio State.
His contract was extended in April by two years through 2022, increasing Meyer’s salary to $7.6 million in 2018 with annual 6 percent raises. Meyer has about $38 million left on his contract.
The Buckeyes’ strong finish this season belied on-the-field problems that made for a stressful season for Meyer and his staff.
The team alternated expected blowout wins with puzzling play that included a pair of one-point wins (Penn State, Maryland) and a closer-than-expected win over a struggling Nebraska team. A startling blowout loss at unranked Purdue on Oct. 20 pushed Ohio State to the fringe of the national championship chase and prompted questions about Meyer’s future and he was forced to address speculation that he would step down at the end of the season.
Ohio State followed that with five straight wins, including a rout of archrival Michigan that gave the Buckeyes another division title and then pulled away for an easy win over Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship.
Sources told Yahoo Sports that Meyer’s overall happiness with the Buckeyes program is another reason for his decision to step down.
Meyer is 82-9 in seven seasons at Ohio State. He’s also coming off back-to-back Big Ten titles and has won seven straight games against rival Michigan – not to mention claiming a national championship in 2014.
Meyer’s 2018 campaign started out tumultuously when he was suspended for the first three games of the season without pay after an investigation into his handling of domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach.
Meyer acknowledged the investigation was among the reasons for his decision: “The decision was the result of cumulative events.”
Meyer was asked if the suspension will affect his legacy.
“I’m sure it will… I can lie to you and say it is not important to me,” he said.
He leaves behind a remarkable career.
Meyer, who was a standout coach at Utah before he left for Florida in 2005, rocketed to the top of the college football coaching ranks, a peer of Alabama coach Nick Saban in terms of respect and ability.
Meyer won three national championships overall, including two at Florida. He also led Utah in 2004 and Ohio State in 2012 to undefeated seasons. He has a 186-32 lifetime record.
Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.