University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer gestures on the sidelines against Miami University during the second quarter of their NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Florida, in this September 4, 2010 file photograph. (SCOTT AUDETTE/REUTERS)

Urban Meyer, whose coaching future has been a topic of rumors and discussion for weeks, is on his way to coach the Ohio State Buckeyes. As Cindy Boren reported :

Urban Meyer, the former University of Florida coach, has accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State, according to his agent, Trace Armstrong.

Rumors had been burbling for over a week and Meyer, who has been an ESPN game analyst, asked to take the weekend off rather than broadcast the Ohio State-Michigan game. ESPN reported Armstrong’s comment and added that its sources had confirmed the report. Ohio State is expected to introduce Meyer as the new coach at a 5:15 p.m. press conference.

Last Monday, Meyer, who is from Ashtabula, Ohio, and grew up an Ohio State fan, told the Gainesville Sun that if he were offered the Ohio State job, “I’ll have a decision to make,” but said that nothing had been offered. WKMG-TV in Orlando reported last week that Meyer would take the job, with a seven-year, $40 million contract. On Thanksgiving, however, Meyer denied the report.

In six seasons at Florida, Meyer won two national championships and had a 65-15 record (104-23 overall). Citing health and family reasons, he stepped down in December 2010. Although he said he still has concerns, he has found that elusive thing called balance.

“The concerns are still there,” Meyer said last week. “No. 1 — my health. No. 2 — my family. No. 3 — the state of college football. I've done some research into the second one. I've found that it is possible to have balance between your job and your family, that there are coaches out there who are doing it. I'm in a good place right now mentally and physically. ... I've found that it is possible to have balance between your job and your family, that there are coaches out there who are doing it.

Meyer will face challenges not only on the football field, but also with the image of the program, which was under investigation for NCAA violations. As AP explained :

Meyer takes over a program that is likely facing NCAA sanctions and was crippled by the forced resignation of coach Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes completed their only season under interim Luke Fickell with a 40-34 loss to Michigan on Saturday that snapped a seven-game winning streak to their rivals.

Wolverines coach Brady Hoke underplayed the role of the head coaches in the rivalry.

“I’ve known Urban, he’s a good football coach, a good guy and I welcome him in,” Hoke said on Monday. “But it’s still Michigan and Ohio and neither one of us is going to play the game.”

In 10 seasons as a head coach — two at Bowling Green, two at Utah and six at Florida — Meyer has a 104-23 record. His teams are 7-1 in bowl games, including the Gators’ 41-14 victory over unbeaten and top-ranked Ohio State in the 2007 Bowl Championship Series title game.

Ohio State ended a frustrating year 6-6 with a final loss to rival Michigan underscoring the program’s need for a fresh start after the Jim Tressel era. As AP reported :

The Buckeyes entered Michigan Stadium with seven consecutive victories over their biggest rivals, hoping another win over the Wolverines would give them reason to rejoice amid a frustrating season.

Instead, Denard Robinson and Michigan snapped a streak Ohio State had cherished as much as any accomplishment.

Robinson accounted for five touchdowns, helping the 17th-ranked Wolverines beat Ohio State 40-34 on Saturday for their first win in the storied rivalry since 2003. The Buckeyes trailed by 10 midway through the fourth quarter, but nearly stunned their hosts with a late rally before a last-minute interception sealed their fate.

“It’s a weird feeling,” Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey said. “We’re not really used to it.”

The Buckeyes (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) came in as underdogs following a tumultuous year. Coach Jim Tressel left in May — his downfall coming when it was learned he knew that several of his players had accepted cash and tattoos from a tattoo parlor, the focus of a federal drug-trafficking investigation. Ohio State is awaiting NCAA penalties stemming from several violations.

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