Urban Meyer is retiring after the Rose Bowl and a big reason for this decision is his health. Meyer is retiring for the second time during his career but noted he is “fairly certain” that he will not coach again.
“The style of coaching that I’ve done for 33 years is very intense, very demanding,” Meyer said per CBS Sports. “You can ask our former players of the expectations and the way I’ve been. I’ve tried to delegate more, CEO-ish more, and the product started to fail. The challenge was can I continue to do that in that style?”
In his final season at Ohio State, Meyer has been more public about some of the health challenges he faces, including a cyst on his brain.
“I’ve been dealing with that cyst for many years, and we had the surgery several years ago,” Meyer told Yahoo Sports. “And when it does take place, it’s just, you know, they give me some medicine and I feel fine now. Just something I’ve got to monitor.”
Learn more about Meyer’s health issues.
1. Meyer Has a Cyst on His Brain
During an October 2018 press conference, Meyer noted he has a cyst on his brain. While this may be a surprise to most fans, Meyer was initially diagnosed with the cyst in 1998 per USA Today. Throughout his career, Meyer has been able to manage the challenges, but his demeanor on the sidelines during the 2018 season suggested things had worsened. According to Cleveland.com, Meyer had surgery in 2014 to help with the condition.
He has managed his health since the 2014 surgery, and these days that includes daily medication. The Buckeyes won the national title 10 months after his first surgery and are 56-7 in the five seasons since the surgery.
As with many medical conditions, the issue with his cyst is incurable and progressive. It has been managed by medication and that 2014 surgery, and Meyer may at some point have other treatment options to consider…
But he’s had a cyst in his head his whole life. If the 2014 surgery to remove fluid and reduce pressure in his brain followed most procedures for arachnoid cysts, he had two holes drilled in his head.
2. Dr. Andrew Thomas, Meyer’s Physician, Released a Statement Noting Meyer’s “Aggressive Headaches” Have Gotten Worse in the Last 2 Years
Meyer’s personal physician Dr. Andrew Thomas released his own statement (per ESPN) to shed some light on Meyer’s health challenges. Thomas noted that the severity of Meyer’s headaches has intensified over the last two years.
The past four years, we’ve been working closely with Coach Meyer to monitor and manage the symptoms that have risen from his enlarged congenital arachnoid cyst. This includes aggressive headaches, which have particularly flared up the past two years.
3. Ohio State’s Zach Smith Investigation Noted Meyer Had “Memory Issues” & Is on Medication That Can Negatively Impact His Memory
Meyer’s health has undoubtedly been tested since the Ohio State coach lied during Big Ten media days about what he knew regarding then assistant coach Zach Smith. This led to an Ohio State investigation of how Meyer and the athletic department handled Smith’s situation. The findings noted Meyer took medicine that had the potential to inhibit his memory per CBS Sports.
Investigators learned that Meyer “has sometimes had significant memory issues in other situations where he had prior extensive knowledge of events. He has also periodically taken medicine that can negatively impair his memory, concentration and focused.” They accepted that as a legitimate reason for him not remembering past events, such as the details of the 2015 incident.
4. Meyer’s 2009 Retirement at Florida Has Been Tied to Health Issues & He Admitted to Regularly Taking Sleeping Pills While Coaching the Gators
Meyer stepped away from football in 2009 after helping lead Florida to one of the greatest stretches in program history. According to The New York Times, Meyer suffered from severe chest pains just hours after the SEC title game between Florida and Alabama.
Hours after Florida lost to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game on Dec. 5, Gators Coach Urban Meyer awoke in the middle of the night with severe chest pains.
He had experienced similar pains the past two years, but this time was different. He lost consciousness, went to a hospital in an ambulance and had more than nine hours of testing.
That night was the tipping point for Meyer, 45, who stunned college football on Saturday by announcing that he was stepping down from coaching.
“There was no heart damage,” Meyer said. “But I didn’t want there to be a bad day where there were three kids sitting around wondering what to do next. It was the pattern of what I was doing and how I was doing it. It was self-destructive…I was worried about letting people down. I was feeling so awful and concerned about my health. That [his daughter’s positive reaction to his retirement] was among several other signs that said it’s time to back away.”
Meyer later admitted to regularly using sleeping pills such as Ambien just to get a few hours of sleep at night. Meyer detailed his dependency on pills during a 2016 Bleacher Report interview.
He weaned himself off the Ambien. That took a full six months. From two pills a night to one, then from one to a half of one, until, finally, he stopped needing them…The only help Urban took was Ambien for his sleep. One a night at first, and then two, washing them down with beer. “Every night,” Shelley says. “And it’s highly addictive. He couldn’t sleep without it.”
Even with it, he didn’t sleep much—maybe four hours a night—and it was a feverish, desperate sort of sleep, his mind incapable of stopping its search for problems to worry over and try to solve. He often woke up to find that, sometime in the night, he had filled dozens of pages with football plays and motivational speeches. He remembered writing none of it.
5. Meyer Will Retire After the Rose Bowl & His Health Played a Big Part in This Decision
Meyer had publicly pledged his desire to coach in 2019 but announced after the Big Ten title game that he planned to retire after the Rose Bowl. Ryan Day will take over as the new Ohio State head coach. Former NFL great Cris Carter is close friends with Meyer and detailed how the cyst impacts Meyer’s coaching per 247 Sports.
Urban’s a very, very close friend of mine. His biggest problem is he wants to coach, but physically he can’t coach. He can’t do this anymore,” Carter said. “I think it’s been well-documented, as far as the cyst on his brain. When he gets agitated, upset … when he gets in coaching mode, it becomes very to almost impossible for him to coach because the cyst begins to leak fluid, which leads to — not a migraine headache, but a splitting headache.
When we saw him double over on the sideline, that was not because of anything else but the cyst and it rupturing. There’s a few things potentially that he could do, he could rest The second one is to have a procedure done where they could relieve the pressure (from) the procedure he had done a couple of years ago, but you’re opening up the brain — and that’s not coming with a great deal of encouragement by the specialist who is working on him. And the third thing is what we saw today, was Urban Meyer resigning as the coach at Ohio State.