Chicago — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is 53 years old, and for 50 years he said he’s followed the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.
“As soon as I could stand up, I remember hearing about that rivalry,” Meyer said Monday during the first day of the Big Ten media days.
Meyer said Ohio State’s 30-27, double overtime victory over Michigan last season was the most intense game he has been a part of. He didn’t know at the time it was the first overtime game in the history of the rivalry.
He was jokingly asked by a Columbus Dispatch reporter how many times he has visited “the spot” — when OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett got a first down to keep the game alive to set up the winning score by Curtis Samuel.
“About a hundred times,” Meyer said.
And what do you think, he was asked.
“We start practice on Thursday,” Meyer said, smiling.
Another reporter held his hands a foot apart, as Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh had done after the game, saying Barrett was that short of the first down.
Meyer smiled and pointed, as though he was signaling first down.
Asked his best memory of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, Meyer immediately answered.
“When Curtis Samuel crossed the goal line,” he said.
Because of Meyer’s Ohio roots and being a fan of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry before being a part of it, he believes it is the greatest rivalry.
“Very biased on this opinion of this rivalry because I grew up in it. Know it as well as any rivalry,” he said. “I think it’s the greatest rivalry, not just in college football but all of sport. Again, it’s a very biased opinion, I’ll be the first to admit that.
“Not a lot of like between the two universities, and the game’s incredible. I was fortunate to grow up in the 10-year war between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, and it was incredible. I grew up in northeast Ohio where the town shut down that week. I have great respect for it.”
Durkin, Maryland coming along
Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator his first season at Michigan, said he’s positioning the Terps to soon become a legitimate challenger in the tough Big Ten East.
“We’re getting closer and closer every day,” Durkin said Monday. “I think we’re recruiting at a level that will put us in the position we want to be in, which is we’re here to win championships. We’re here to compete, to win it. That’s why we’re here. That’s what we’re going to do.
“So I think we took a great first step with that recruiting class we just put together. And we have some guys on our team, on our campus, on our roster that we’re working really hard, developing and working with and they’re doing a great job.”
Maryland has a new football facility, Cole Field House, that Durkin described as state of the art and another step toward building the program into a contender.
“We’re definitely not there yet in terms of where we want to be from one through 85 or one through 105 (on the roster), but we’re certainly a lot closer, and I like where we’re at,” Durkin said. “I think we have a team we can go compete with anyone we play.”
Less talk, more play
There’s been plenty of preseason love for Ohio State, considered by many pundits to be the overwhelming favorite to win the conference title.
But what about Wisconsin in the West Division?
“That’s what’s great about this season is you have to go play it,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “And all the talk doesn’t really matter. So don’t spent a lot of time, energy, thinking about what’s being said. You try to focus your energy and your players’ energy on what you can control, what you can best put your energy into. That’s the fun part.
“Certain there’s a lot of really good football teams in this conference. It’s what makes the Big Ten special, and great players, great coaches. Traditionally great programs. That’s why (we’re) very thankful to be a part of the Big Ten. And that’s why I’m so appreciative and thankful to be at Wisconsin because we’re part of that.”
Meyer said he and his players do not dwell on or discuss the 31-0 playoff loss to Clemson last season.
“I’ve been asked that a lot. And we kind of let that one go. We’ve been known in the past to use different forms of motivation, a loss here or there or whatever have you. That ship has sailed. It’s gone. And we’ve not addressed it. We’ve not talked about it.
“Professionally, it changed how we do some business on offense and we’re moving forward. It’s in the back of everyone’s mind and whether I’ll use that during training camp or not is to be determined. But where we’re at as a team, I like where we’re at. So we’re just pushing forward.”
Edwards joins BTN
Former Michigan All-American receiver Braylon Edwards will join BTN as an analyst this fall.