Tonight, Urban Meyer will coach the Ohio State Buckeyes in the national championship game against the Oregon Ducks. Should Ohio State win, Meyer will become the second coach to win national titles at two different schools. The first was Alabama's Nick Saban, who did it at Alabama and Louisiana State University. A Buckeye victory will/would put Meyer in the pantheon of greatest college football coaches ever -- along with guys like Saban, Knute Rockne and, shoot, Pop Warner. Even if Oregon wins tonight, you may make the case that Meyer is one of the best of all time.
In 2002, Meyer completed his second season at Bowling Green. This was his first head coaching job and he was one of the hottest names in the business. His two-year record was 17-6. But the year before he took over BGU was 2-9, after going 5-6, 5-6, 3-8, 4-7 and 5-6 in the seasons prior. That's 24 and 42 if you're keeping track. Meyer's record represented a huge turnaround and included a MAC Coach of the Year Award in 2001.
Suffice it to say, he was at the time one of the hottest names in college football coaching.
As it happens, UCLA decided to hire a new football coach for the 2003 season. Then-new Athletic Director Dan Guerrero let Bob Toledo go and was on the lookout for a coach to turn around the Bruins' football fortunes. Naturally there was a lot of speculation among fans as to who would be the next UCLA coach.
As it happens, I was a member of Bruin Report Online at the time. (There was no Bruins Nation at the time.) And one of the most prolific and knowledgeable posters at that time was a man who called himself Kawai. I never met him and he's since disappeared from the UCLA social media scene.
And day after day, post after post, Kawai advocated for the hiring of Bowling Green's Urban Meyer. He was not alone, though I can't recall the names of the other fans who pimped for Meyer.
Now, Dan Guerrero being Dan Guerrero, Meyer did not make the short list of candidates to UCLA. I remember that Mike Riley (Oregon State/now at Nebraska) made the cut. And, of course, we hired Karl Dorrell.
All you need to know about the Dorrell era is that his performance as coach led to a little blog called DumpDorrell which ultimately became Bruins Nation. Thanks Karl!!!
As it happens, 2002 was Meyer's last season at Bowling Green. He was hired away by the University of Utah, which was still in the Mountain West Conference at the time.
Now, we have no way of knowing if Meyer would have been interested in the UCLA job had he been considered. But, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that had he had to choose between MWC Utah and Pac 10 UCLA he just might have chosen the job in sunny Southern California.
In his two season in Utah, Meyer went 22-2, including an undefeated 2004. In his first two season at UCLA, Dorrell went 12-13; he would win 35 total games in five years.
Now, had we hired Meyer, there is a good chance he would have left by now. But is there any doubt that he would have built the program immediately and left it in infinitely better shape than he found it? I have zero doubt, none at all.
If you want to feel depressed, think about this while you're watching the championship game tonight. If only our esteemed athletic director had done what even casual fans had known. If only we had hired Urban Meyer instead of Karl Dorrell.