Urban Meyer will take the field on Saturday for his first game as head football coach of Ohio State.
In many ways, the 48-year-old will be coming full circle, both personally and professionally.
Born in Toledo, Meyer met his wife, Shelley, while attending the University of Cincinnati. He was hired as an assistant coach at Ohio State in 1986 and earned a master’s degree at the school prior to his departure for another coaching position with Illinois State. He then climbed the coaching ladder, eventually winning two national championships as head coach of the University of Florida.
A self-acknowledged workaholic, Meyer’s health began failing in December of 2009. In a dramatic turn, he announced his resignation. But he quickly withdrew it and recovered, coaching another full season and retiring after a bowl game win against Penn State on January 1, 2011.
But all along, even amidst all the success, Meyer knew something wasn’t right. Why was he so obsessed with coaching football? Why did he so suddenly quit and then change his mind just as quickly? He began to ask the questions that many people ask themselves when times turn tough:
Who am I? Why am I here?
Following his retirement in January of 2011, Urban Meyer spent weeks traveling the country, visiting and talking with friends. He sought the counsel of his pastor. He reconnected with his kids, Nicki, Gigi and Nate. His wife loved having him home and said he never seemed happier. She said she’d be delighted if he never coached again.
Yet inside Meyer was still unresolved and missed the thrill of coaching football and the chance to make a difference in the lives of college kids. But his wife said that if he ever signed another football contract he was going to have to sign a contract with the family, too. Meyer thought that was a good idea, so much so that when he held a news conference announcing his new contract with Ohio State, he shared the family contract (which was written by his daughter, Nicki) with the press.
1. My family will always come first.
2. I will take care of myself and maintain good health.
3. I will go on a trip once a year with Nicki — MINIMUM.
4. I will not go more than nine hours a day at the office.
5. I will sleep with my cellphone on silent.
6. I will continue to communicate daily with my kids.
7. I will trust God’s plan and not be overanxious.
8. I will keep the lake house.
9. I will find a way to watch Nicki and Gigi play volleyball.
10. I will eat three meals a day.
Urban Meyer says he feels “blessed” to have realized before it was too late that his main responsibility in life is to raise his family. How he’s able to manage and maintain that delicate balance between family and work remains to be seen, but we certainly wish him all the best.
The fact of the matter is that millions of families are in the midst of this very same struggle. They may not be nearly as high-profile, and millions of dollars may not be at stake, but the same factors are at play. No matter the family, children want the very same thing: they want their parents to be present and available to them. They would rather have their mom and dad at the head of the family dinner table than at the head of a big company or football team, if by being there they wouldn’t have them home for regular family activities.
Let me ask you:
Depending upon your profession, could you agree to a similar contract with your family? (Yes, I would like a lake house, too! J) But in all sincerity, how are you balancing your family life with your work these days?