Urban Meyer retirement at Ohio State surprises world of college football

NEW YORK – When Mack Brown took a phone call Tuesday morning from Urban Meyer, he was surprised by the topic. Brown recently was hired at North Carolina, five years after retiring at Texas. He figured Meyer might be calling to offer congratulations.

Instead, Meyer told him he was retiring for health reasons. And referring to Brown’s decision to return, he asked:

“Are you crazy or what?”

The news of Meyer’s exit sent a ripple through the lobby of the New York Hilton Midtown, the unofficial gathering place this week of many of college football’s coaches, athletic directors, conference officials and others for the National Football Foundation’s annual awards dinner.

Brown, 67, who is being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, seems energized after spending five years away from the grind – instead filling his time as an ESPN analyst. He said Meyer told him health issues were “the total reason he was stepping away.”

The Buckeyes’ season was tumultuous, beginning last summer when Meyer was suspended after an investigation into his handling of domestic violence allegations against then-assistant coach Zach Smith. Earlier this season, Meyer revealed that a cyst on his brain causes occasionally extreme pain and can be aggravated by stress. As Ohio State struggled at times on the field, cameras focused on Meyer on the sidelines in apparent agony.

Brown said Meyer told him, “it’s time for him to (retire), and time to move forward.”

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