BOWLING GREEN - When Urban Meyer was looking for a guy to work down in the trench, he asked for a lot. He wanted his guards and centers - the heart of his offensive line - coached by someone with passion and experience, someone who had been to war and come back wearing a medal.
But that was not all the new head coach at Bowling Green State University needed. Meyer wanted someone who had played for the Falcons and was devoted to the school. In short, he wanted a guy with orange blood coursing through his veins.
“I wanted a guy who would absolutely live and die for this place,” Meyer said yesterday.
He stopped looking when one name kept coming up - Greg Studrawa.
A former offensive tackle for the Falcons, Studrawa was part of the 1985 BGSU team that went 11-0 before losing to Fresno State in the California Bowl. And after coaching at Ohio State, Cincinnati, Wilmington and Arkansas State, Studrawa had the pedigree Meyer was looking for.
“My first priority was to hire the best offensive-line coaches I could find,” Meyer said. “I love offensive linemen, and I think that's the backbone of your team, but I'm not an offensive-line coach. I've coached quarterbacks and receivers my whole life.
“Then I started thinking about Bowling Green, a school that has done well in the past. People here think about winning. For me to sit here and say I love Bowling Green at that time, I didn't know Bowling Green. I'm growing to love this place, but I wanted a guy who was really crazy about it, and a guy who would teach me about the place.”
It was a bonus that Studrawa, a native of Fostoria, just happened to be from the area, and from a place where football is part of the landscape.
“I started getting phone calls from all over, from guys who I really respect in this business, calling me about Greg,” Meyer said. “He's a family guy, a guy who loves Bowling Green, he's from this area, and he's passionate about football. That's what he brings to this program.”
Studrawa said it did not take him long to make up his mind.
“I jumped at the opportunity to come back here,” Studrawa said. “Coaching is a tough business - everybody knows that - and when you get a chance to coach at your alma mater, especially when it's a great place like this, with the tradition we've had here dating back a long time, when you see that opportunity, you just jump.”
Studrawa landed in a program Meyer hopes to turn around in his first Division I head-coaching assignment. The Falcons have suffered through six straight losing seasons, and Studrawa is eager to see that spell broken.
“They've had some tough times lately, but we're working hard to change that,” he said. “When you've spilled blood on this field and won championships like we did when I was here, you have fond memories of everything, and I want these kids to experience that. For me the best times of my life were when I was here, and to come back and relive those a little bit every day, it's exciting and it's emotional.”
At yesterday's media day at Doyt Perry Stadium, Studrawa said that besides teaming with John Hevesy, who coaches the tackles and tight ends, to prepare the line for the rigors of the season, he has also concentrated on letting the players know the value of BG's past successes.
“That's one of the things I've focused on the hardest with the linemen, letting them understand the tradition that's been here and the guys who have played here,” Studrawa said. “This program has won championships, and now they have a nice indoor facility and lights are going up at the stadium - those things were started by the guys who played before, even before me. These kids need to understand that it's not about what Bowling Green owes you, it's about what you owe to everybody else.”
Studrawa, who was an all-state lineman at St. Wendelin, said he hopes the same frenzied approach to football that has put Fostoria High and St. Wendelin in the playoffs a number of times, and brought the Redmen two state championships, will infect the Falcon faithful again.
“It used to be that way here, and that's big-time important for me. That was the attitude in Fostoria, and it always has been. If you came in there, you knew you were going to be playing against people who lived for the game of football. That's a football town. I think that's the way it has to be here again. You want people to look at the schedule and say, `Oh no, we've got to play Bowling Green.'”
Meyer said Studrawa fits the profile he had sketched out when he went shopping for line coaches.
“You kind of have a visualization of what a guards-and-centers offensive-line coach should be like, and I've been around some great ones,” Meyer said. “And the great ones all have one thing in common - the players respect them, but love them. And I think Greg's that kind of coach.”