In it, Felder mentions the two-man race between Bill Snyder and Brian Kelly for coach of the year, then pulls a fast one and gives his nod to Mike Riley over at Oregon State. Likewise, an October 22 power ranking of the top eight coaches of the year here doesn't mention Meyer.
What Bill O'Brien is doing at Penn State is great and a case can be made for him to be the coach of the year. A case can also be made for unbeaten coaches Snyder and Kelly alongside upstart Oregon State and Riley.
It's also awfully easy to make a case for Urban Meyer.
The soft bigotry of low expectations
Who's your Coach of the Year?
One of the biggest roadblocks that great coaches face in the coach of the year race each season is the fact that coaches who are expected to have a good year are rarely given a serious look for postseason honors. Jim Tressel dominated the Big Ten in his 10-year career; he went 66-14 in conference games (including vacated wins) and took at least a share of the conference title in each of his last six seasons.
Tressel's Big Ten coach of the year trophies? Zero. Even when he was named the national coach of the year in 2002 (when, surprise, Ohio State wasn't expected to contend for a title), the conference instead gave the honor to Kirk Ferentz, who had an 11-24 record at Iowa coming into the season.
And yet while Kansas State was No. 22 in the AP poll coming into the year, Notre Dame was unranked and Oregon State didn't even receive a vote, it's not as if Ohio State was expected to run roughshod over the Big Ten this year either. It's well-known that Michigan was the top-ranked Big Ten team in the preseason AP poll, but Ohio State was the fifth-best Big Ten team, starting off the year at No. 18.
So make no mistake—this type of season wasn't supposed to happen. Not yet. And when you exceed expectations that well, you deserve a spot in the conversation for Coach of the Year.
I'm gonna make you a star
Yes, Urban Meyer has the luxury of centering his offense around a Heisman contender in Braxton Miller. Pretty easy to look like a good coach when you have one of the best players in the nation to lean on, right?
Oh wait, Bill Snyder has Heisman front-runner Collin Klein running the show in Manhattan. And oh, there's linebacker Manti Te'o dominating in South Bend and making his own Heisman case—a rarity for a defender. Mike Riley at Oregon State and Bill O'Brien at Penn State are less blessed in terms of elite talent, but those coaches are doing a great job of squeezing results out of middling talent thus far.
Going back to the superstars, though, this is Snyder's fourth year coaching Klein, a senior, and it is the second year Klein has started for Snyder. Likewise, Te'o is a senior, and Kelly has had him around for each of his three seasons at Notre Dame.
Braxton Miller, on the other hand, is a sophomore. This is his first year under Urban Meyer, and he has had to learn Meyer's new offense.
Even star QB Sean Mannion at Oregon State is in his third year learning under Riley, and while QB Matt McGloin is only in his first year with O'Brien, McGloin's also in his fifth year of college football and his third seeing major minutes (if not always starting, thanks to Joe Paterno's weird QB platoons).
Just win(s), baby
At the end of the day, coaches are judged primarily on wins and losses. Every win furthers the case for coach of the year, and every loss deadens it. That's a reductive view of it, of course, but at the end of the day losses hurt hard.
Bill Snyder is undefeated. Brian Kelly is undefeated. Mike Riley is 7-1. Bill O'Brien is 6-3, but that's a mighty impressive 6-3, all things considered.
Urban Meyer? Here in Year 1 of his Ohio State career and facing the same postseason ban O'Brien is? 10-0 with two tough but winnable games to play. While installing an offense and then adjusting it without Jordan Hall as a backfield pivot man. While dealing with so much instability at inside linebacker that he had to move his starting fullback there midway through the season. While learning to still be a family man while coaching instead of working as hard as he used to.
You don't have to think Meyer's the best coach in the nation. Maybe it really is Kelly or O'Brien or Riley or Snyder or someone else not mentioned. Nick Saban? Hard to argue against Nick Saban, isn't it?
But in the name of intellectual honesty, you do have to at least grant that Meyer belongs in the conversation with these fellow men. It makes sense. Embrace things that make sense.