COLUMBUS — All the green in the world may not be able to convince Urban Meyer the grass is greener somewhere other than Ohio State.
Not surprisingly, the Buckeyes coach has said his eye would not wander toward Texas — the resting giant with a virtual blank check to pursue the biggest coaching names in the country.
“There’s no take,” he said of Texas’ vacancy. “I’m here. I’m the coach at Ohio State.”
But could Meyer use the opening — and the staggering $7 million-per-year extension Alabama coach Nick Saban reportedly signed this month — to cash in at OSU?
Probably not this offseason, though athletic director Gene Smith acknowledged a big raise could be coming.
Meyer, who earns $4.3 million annually and is in the second season of a six-year deal, is among the few A-list coaches for whom Saban’s outsized payday could change the game. While Smith told The Blade there are no plans to renegotiate with Meyer before next season, he knows Ohio State “will have to face that music down the road.”
“What year that will be, I don't know,” Smith said. “Obviously we're at the pinnacle. We're a program that strives for national championships and playing in those national championship games, and I imagine at some point in time we're going to be there.
“We compensate our people consistent with the expectations and accomplishment. When we get to that point, I'm sure we're going to be in that [financial] mix. I don't know when that will be, but we're going to be there. I know it's going to come.”
To be clear, Meyer, who along with Saban is one of two active college coaches to win multiple national titles, has not asked for more money.
Only three coaches made more this season: Saban ($5.6 million), Texas’ Mack Brown ($5.4 million), and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops ($4.55 million).
It’s also hard to conceive Meyer bolting for another job, college or professional. In fact, his contract when he coached at Utah included a clause that allowed him to leave without penalty for three schools: Ohio State, Notre Dame, or Michigan. (Meyer, of course, went to Florida after the 2004 season).
Meyer is where he wants to be. Born in Toledo and raised in Ashtabula, he is the toast of his home state.
At Ohio State, which will play Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3, he won his first 24 games before falling in the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State and is set to sign a third straight top-five recruiting class.
Chip Brown, who covers Texas for orangebloods.com, said in an interview on CBS Sports radio that Meyer was among UT’s early targets but the school learned he would not entertain leaving the Buckeyes.
Still, in the runaway world of coaching salaries, the rising tide at Texas can lift all big names.
Saban leveraged the Longhorns job to rework a deal he had just signed through 2020, reportedly jacking his annual salary to between $7 and $7.5 million — or about the same as Bill Belichick makes with the New England Patriots.
For now, Meyer — the biggest cog of an athletic department that pulled in more than $123 million last year — and the Buckeyes are content just the way things are, though Smith knows the music is coming.