LOS ANGELES — For many years, earning a trip to the Rose Bowl was the goal of every Ohio State football player.
For head coach Urban Meyer — who has three national titles to his credit — finally coaching in a Rose Bowl, and in his final game as the Ohio State coach, is “a dream come true.”
“This has been a bucket list (item) my entire coaching career.”
But with college football’s national championship now settled in a playoff, Meyer was concerned his players might not be as excited as he is to take on Washington Tuesday.
“I was really worried about it,” Meyer said. “I remember one year at Florida we missed out on the championship and we went to the Sugar Bowl — and it was like, not good enough.”
The prestige of the Rose Bowl and the opportunity to send coach Meyer out with a win in his final game as OSU’s head coach has his Buckeyes focused on getting a win.
“I was really worried, but our players know all about the Rose Bowl and appreciate and respect the tradition of it,” he said. “I am sure that’s why all those guys are playing.”
Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones is one of “those guys” Meyer referenced.
Considered a top pick in the upcoming NFL draft, Jones ignored advice to skip the Rose Bowl and will join his teammates one more time.
“I just couldn’t let myself sit there and just watch. I wanted to play and finish what we started,” Jones said. “I feel like if I was in the playoffs, I’d be playing, so why not play in the Rose Bowl.”
As the Rose Bowl approaches, Meyer has been trying to keep the thoughts of no longer coaching the Buckeyes from getting in the way of the task at hand.
“I try to avoid it at all costs, but it catches you once in a while,” Meyer said.
“We want to send coach Meyer out the right way,” defensive end Jonathan Cooper said. “He’s been the greatest coach you could ask for.”
Meyer, who has an 82-9 record in seven seasons at Ohio State, will become an assistant athletics director with OSU following the Rose Bowl.