From left, Nate Meyer, Urban Meyer, and Mike Pawlawski fish off the Florida Keys in May. The fishing trip was part of the promise he made to his family before taking the Ohio State job.
When Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer spent a couple of days last May fishing off the Florida Keys, he was also fulfilling the terms of his contract.
Not the complex and intricate snarl of legalese in his six-year deal to lead the Buckeyes, but the one hammered out with his kids and recorded on a plain pink piece of paper.
After serious health concerns had contributed to the end of Meyer’s ultrasuccessful run at Florida, his family made some demands on the Ohio native before they came on board with a return to coaching and the move to Columbus late in 2011.
"It's tougher than any other contract I've signed in my life," Meyer said about the pact that was crafted by his daughters, Nicki and Gigi, and his son, Nate.
One key clause stipulates that Meyer not sacrifice “family time” for endless film review, digesting scouting reports, or keeping the lights on in his office well into prime time.
So the former Bowling Green coach was working the salt water sport fishing mecca of the Keys with Nate, chasing tarpon, grouper, barracuda, and amberjack — not defensive linemen or freak athletes. He was away from football, immersed in his domestic responsibilities, and a bit of angling.
“What I saw was a guy with a great commitment to his family,” said Mike Pawlawski, from the Gridiron Outdoors show on the Outdoor Channel, who took the Meyers fishing.
“I have an 11-year-old myself, and I know how important that time together is, so it was fantastic to see coach Meyer and Nate out there just enjoying each other, and the fishing. When we contacted Ohio State about coach Meyer doing the show, his only request was that he be able to bring his son along.”
Pawlawski, a former starting quarterback at Cal in the early 1990s who went on to play in the NFL, Arena Football League, and the XFL, hosts the TV series that features current and former football players and coaches.
The Meyers will be featured in a segment that will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Saturday on the Outdoor Channel, which is channel 191 on Buckeye CableSystem. The Gridiron Outdoors episode will be replayed at various other times on the network.
Pawlawski had never met the Ohio State coach before their outing started out with targeting tarpon in the channel that separates Boca Chica Key from Key West. During the two-day trip, the Meyers caught bonita, grouper, tarpon, jacks, as well as sharks and barracuda.
“I could tell right away that he’s got some intensity in him,” Pawlawski said about the 48-year-old Meyer, “and he’s a pretty good fisherman. As football guys, I think we’re naturally competitive in everything we do. That’s what’s in us, and whether it’s football or fishing, some guys just take right to it.”
Pawlawski said throughout the trip, coach Meyer capitalized on every opportunity to enjoy his son’s success catching a variety of species.
“Nate caught a 28-pound blackfin tuna that was the best fish one of the days, and Nate was clearly the overall star of the trip,” Pawlawski said. “I could see that Urban was really enjoying the moment, and Nate wasn’t taking anything for granted.”
Pawlawski said he started work on this episode of his fishing show as a fan of Urban Meyer the Ohio State coach, and ended it an admirer of Urban Meyer the father, and the person.
“I’ve been around a lot of coaches in my life, and usually within a half an hour you can tell a lot about them,” Pawlawski said, adding that he was not surprised that Meyer led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record in the 2012 season.
“I knew pretty much right away that this was a man with absolute integrity. There was no gray area in anything he did. In his mind, you’re either doing the right thing or not. So much of coaching is about character, and he’s truly a quality character person.”
FISH FRY: The Ottawa Lake Sportsmen’s Club will host a half-dozen fish frys at its facility on Old U.S. Route 223 in Ottawa Lake. The events take place from 5-8 p.m. on Jan. 18, Feb. 1, Feb. 15, March 1, March 15, and March 29. Alaskan Pollock will be served, along with chicken fingers, fried chicken, hamburgers, and shrimp.
URBAN BIRDING SERIES: The Toledo Naturalists Association is sponsoring a field trip to Woodlawn Cemetery on Saturday as part of its popular "Urban Birding Series." The outing is free and open to the public. You do not need to be a member of TNA to take part. Woodlawn Cemetery offers unique winter birding opportunities, and recent sightings at this historic site include many Pine Siskins and White-winged Crossbills, Common Redpolls, and Red Crossbills. Meet tour leaders Mark and Sherry Plessner at 1 p.m. near the main headquarters building, close to the gate on Central Avenue.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6068.