Two well-placed sources at Ohio State University confirmed for The Dispatch this morning that Urban Meyer will be announced next week as the next head football coach of the Buckeyes.
But the sources also said final terms for a deal - such as length of contract and financial remuneration - have not been decided, despite recent reports to the contrary. Also, the sources said that though interim head coach Luke Fickell has not been in the loop, he will be taken care of when or if Meyer accepts the job. In what capacity, the sources weren't sure.
As for Meyer, the former national-championship-winning coach at Florida who has spent the season as an analyst for ESPN, he could be not be reached for comment. But sources say he has told acquaintances he has not been formally offered the job by OSU, and he reiterated that in a statement released through ESPN this morning.
"I have not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place," the Meyer statement said. "I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my family and will not comment on this any further."
WKMG-TV in Orlando, Fla., reported on Tuesday night that Meyer had agreed in principle to a seven-year, $40 million contract to coach the Buckeyes. OSU sources said figures were not accurate, but did not provide any other terms.
Ohio State, the sources said, also is considering when to make the announcement, which may depend on whether the Buckeyes defeat Michigan on Saturday in their regular-season finale. The sources said the announcement could come as early as Monday.
Ohio State leaders reportedly zeroed in on Meyer, an Ohio native, several weeks ago, according to the sources, an effort that accelerated after OSU's upset loss at Purdue that for all intents and purposes took the Buckeyes out of the running for the Big Ten championship.
Ohio State is still awaiting word from the NCAA committee on infractions concerning final penalties from an NCAA investigation over the past 11 months that, among other things, caused the school to seek the resignation of 10-year coach Jim Tressel on May 30.
Fickell was elevated from assistant head coach to interim head coach that day. At the same time, the university made it clear that at regular season's end it intended to reassess the head coaching position and that it would consider candidates - including Fickell - for the permanent job. However, it also said it would honor Fickell's two-year contract as assistant head coach which runs through February 2013.
Meyer, who grew up in Ashtabula, went to the University of Cincinnati, and was a graduate assistant coach at Ohio State in the mid-1980s under coach Earle Bruce. After becoming a head coach at Bowling Green in 2001 he swiftly turned the Falcons into a winner, going 17-6 over two years before leaving for Utah. He worked the same magic with the Utes, leading them to an undefeated season in 2004, including a win over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.
After being courted heavily by Florida and Notre Dame, he took the Florida job in 2005 and a year later led the Gators to a national championship win over Ohio State. In 2008 the Gators, led by quarterback Tim Tebow, won the national title again.
Meyer tried to step away from coaching in December 2009 due to health concerns, but quickly changed his mind. He took a leave of absence but returned for the 2010 season, only to retire again in December.
"I have been a Division I football coach for the last 25 years and, during that time, my primary focus has been helping my teams win titles," he said in a statement explaining the move back then. " I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and I am a fierce competitor to my core. At this time in my life, however, I appreciate the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field. The decision to step down was a difficult one.
"But after spending more than two decades motivating and celebrating the young men I've been so proud to coach, I relish the opportunity to cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports. I know how fortunate I am to be in a position to make this choice and to have a family that is as loving and supportive as my amazing wife and children have always been."
Apparently, according to the sources at Ohio State, he is ready to get back into the game, and the Buckeyes apparently are eager to have him.