Columbus, Ohio — No more “school up north.”
Urban Meyer is not Woody Hayes. And neither is the modern-day version of Ohio State’s and Michigan’s long, tough, divisive football war, which will be re-staged Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Meyer is Buckeyes head coach and acknowledged Monday there are perhaps more adult ways for two college football giants to get along and at the same time maintain an edge.
“I had great conversations with Bo Schembechler,” Meyer said Monday at his one and only press conference ahead of Saturday’s noon kickoff, speaking of Michigan’s late head coach who for a decade fought Hayes and his great Buckeyes teams.
“And you’re darn right – it was very tough. But no two coaches ever respected each other more. And I think that’s the story.
“You go so fricking hard against one another and there’s a mutual respect. I didn’t say ‘like.’ But respect.”
Meyer arrived at OSU as a graduate assistant coach too late to know Hayes. It was during his years as an assistant and later as a head coach at a different school that he became acquainted with Schembechler, one-half of the Midwest’s most historically dynamic pair of coaching generals.
What he learned, he repeated Monday, was that word: respect, which transcended any less noble behavior, such as Hayes’ refusal to say “Michigan” publicly.
The Buckeyes, of course, are in step with Michigan’s 10-1 record and in Las Vegas’ view are about a touchdown favorite Saturday. But Meyer talked Monday as if Michigan might as well be the oddsmakers’ pick.
He had been asked about running the ball and pairing it with downfield passing weaponry that wasn’t always on display Saturday on a windy afternoon in East Lansing when the Buckeyes scraped up a 17-16 win over Michigan State.
The Buckeyes, he said, need to have a bit more going Saturday — regardless of weather.
“When you face a defense like this,” he said, speaking of the Wolverines, minus any “school from the north” reference, “you better have everything you’ve got.”