For Urban Meyer, it’s good to be in the red, and he prefers to call it scarlet.
The head coach for the scarlet and gray Ohio State Buckeyes scored a 3 in the first round of the American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Friday. The tourney uses the Stableford scoring system and positive numbers are posted in red, negative scores are in black. Meyer sits in the middle of the pack entering Day 2.
Football coaches don’t have much time for golf and when they compete at Tahoe — they mostly finish in the black, as did Herm Edwards, Marvin Lewis and Sean Payton on Friday. Eagles coach Doug Pederson was the exception, scoring 6.
“I hit the ball very well but (I had four three-putts) and that killed me,” said Meyer, who shot minus-3 in 2012, his only other Tahoe appearance. “I live on a golf course (Deerfield) but, after July, I have to put the clubs away until March or April. This is a great course.”
Steve Spurrier was fourth in the Tahoe’s first celebrity golf championship in 1990. But the rest of the coaches have been mediocre at best. Notre Dame’s Lou Holtz and Brian Kelly have been awful. Rick Nueheisel had his moments. Jim Harbaugh did all right in 1998, finishing 29th.
But the most important stats are that Michigan coach Harbaugh is 0-3 against Ohio State, and Meyer is undefeated in six games vs. the Wolverines. In recent years, the Buckeyes have dominated the series, winning 13 of the last 14 games.
With such a lopsided run, is the famed Ohio State-Michigan series still a rivalry?
“Oh my gosh, yes,” Meyer said. “No one has more respect for the rivalry and the opponent than me.”
Notice that Meyer, 54, who grew up in Ohio, didn’t mention the name Michigan? That’s a scarlet and gray tradition that goes back to former OSU coach Woody Hayes.
That might not bother Michigan or its fans, but it does have a reciprocal effect. Just talk to Wolverine great Charles Woodson, who empathizes with frustrated supporters.
“Everybody is impatient,” said Woodson, 41, who scored minus-15 on Friday. “They want to win, especially against you know who.”
There are plenty of Ohio State fans attending the ACC, including Eric Benander of Eldorado Hills. He travels to Columbus every year for a game and attended Ohio State’s national championship- winning games in 2002 and 2014. He will go to the TCU battle in Texas this season and is hoping to see the Buckeyes in the national title in January at Santa Clara.
“I have no friends from Michigan — they’re all losers,” Benander said. “I couldn’t be friends with people from that school up north.”
Dylan Everhard, 16, of Modesto, is among a family of Buckeye fans. His grandfather went to OSU.
Even though Ohio State has dominated Michigan in his lifetime, he understands the rivalry.
“Whenever they play each other, it doesn’t matter what team is more talented,” he said. “It comes down to heart and whoever want to beat each other more.”
Everhard read Meyers’ autobiography, “Above The Line.”
“He pushes players to be the best of their ability,” Everhard said.
Meyer, who won two national titles at Florida, came home to Ohio after the Buckeyes had a losing record in 2011, something that probably hasn’t happened since drop-kicks were used for extra points.
“It was a no brainer to bring him in,” said former Buckeye linebacker A.J. Hawk. “He wins and he wins quick.”
Hawk, 34, scored a 5 in the opening round. He also appreciates the rivalry.
“No matter how many times they win, no matter the recent record, it’s special on both sides,” he said.
Hawk doesn’t appear to have animus toward the Buckeyes’ rival, but he didn’t use the M-word, either.
He said he has plenty of friends from up north, including Woodson, his teammate on the 2011 Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.
The Buckeyes are fresh off another great year. They beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship and USC in the Rose Bowl. However, they lost to a mediocre Iowa team, 55-24.
Iowa season ticket holder Eron McDonough of Des Moines attended the game and is at the ACC, as well.
“I didn’t expect it, but everything clicked that game,” McDonough said. “That is the most excited I’ve ever left Kinnick Stadium. The atmosphere was off the charts.”
Meyer said there is great parity in the Big Ten.
“It’s every week now,” he said. “The Big Ten is the best conference in America, and you couldn’t say that in 2012. It has excellent coaches and players and preseason polls I think have four Big Ten Teams in the top 10.”
The Buckeyes have only three returning defensive starters, but there are plenty of reasons for them to be optimistic. The team is filled with talented skill position players, including running backs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins, who combined for more than 2,000 yards in 2017. And most painfully for that school up north, Weber is from Detroit.
It gets worse, Michigan fans. Ohio State has two young quarterbacks who are so impressive that veteran signal-caller Joe Burrow transferred to LSU.
Entering fall camp, sophomore Dwayne Haskins is the starter ahead of Las Vegas native Ted Martell, a redshirt freshman.
“Haskins’ leadership is developing,” Meyer said. “His strength right now is his throwing accuracy. And right behind him is Marte, who is the most competitive guy I’ve been around. So it will be real interesting.”
— Tim Parsons