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Utah Hires Urban Meyer As Its New Football Coach

December 12, 2002 — The University of Utah has hired Urban Meyer as its new head football coach, Utah Director of Athletics Dr. Chris Hill announced today. Meyer, the head coach at Bowling Green State University for the past two years, has agreed to a five-year contract worth $400,000 a year.

“We are obviously very excited to hire a coach with Urban’s background,” said Hill. “I was most impressed with his leadership, commitment to his players-on and off the field-his integrity and his success as a football coach. He is a great fit for our university in terms of where we want to go with our football program.”

The 2001 Mid American Conference Coach of the Year, Meyer compiled a 17-6 record in his two years at BGSU, including a 5-0 mark against Bowl Championship Series teams. Meyer was 8-3 in 2001 and 9-3 in 2002. The Falcons spent five weeks in the national rankings this season, rising as high as No. 16 in the USA Today/ESPN poll and No. 20 in the Associated Press poll on Nov. 3 after starting the season 8-0. As a first-year head coach in 2001, Meyer engineered the top turnaround in NCAA Division I, showing a six-win improvement from the previous season and giving BG its first winning season since 1994.

“This is a great opportunity for me for both professional and family reasons,” said Meyer about the Utah job. “It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made because of my attachment to my players at Bowling Green. I became sold on the Utah job after my visit to the campus. Seeing the facilities now in place and learning more about the quality of the University confirmed what I always felt when I coached at Colorado State: You can recruit good players to Utah.”

Among Meyer’s biggest non-conference wins as a head coach were routs of Missouri (51-28) and Kansas (31-16) this season. In 2001, he beat No. 14 ranked Northwestern (43-42), as well as Missouri (20-13).

His Bowling Green teams also ranked high in the national statistical rankings, both offensively and defensively. The Falcons finished fourth in the nation in scoring offense this past season, averaging 40.8 points per game, and became the highest scoring team in MAC history. They ranked eighth nationally in total offense, averaging 448.9 yards per game. Bowling Green led the nation in “red zone” production, scoring on 61 of 63 trips (96.8%) inside the 20 yard line, including 52 touchdowns. In 2001, BG ranked first in the MAC in scoring defense (19.5 ppg), rushing defense (86.3 ypg) and total defense (319.5 ypg). Bowling Green led the MAC in turnover margin both years under Meyer.

Meyer, 38, held assistantships at Notre Dame (1996-2000), Colorado State (1990-1995), Illinois State (1988-89) and Ohio State (1986-87) before taking the head job at BGSU. A summary of his coaching assignments can be found at the end of this release. He has gone to seven bowl games as a coach, including the 1994 and 1995 Holiday Bowl while receivers coach at CSU. Meyer becomes the 16th head coach at Utah since 1900 (the program started in 1892).

U. President Dr. Bernie Machen is enthusiastic about his new head football coach. “I’m delighted that Urban Meyer will be leading the Utah football program. He brings a great combination of experience, energy, and discipline to the job. We look to him to make a strong program even stronger,” said Machen.

Meyer inherits a Utah team that finished 5-6 overall in 2002. The Utes were 3-4 in the MWC and placed fifth. In the preseason media poll, Utah was picked to finish a close second behind Colorado State. Utah will return 40 lettermen and 14 starters next fall. Eight starters are back for the offense, including quarterback Brett Elliott, who started the last six games as a sophomore in 2002, and running back Brandon Warfield, a junior college transfer who averaged 102.1 ypg. The defense returns five starters, among them first-team all-conference defensive end Jason Kaufusi, who will be a junior next fall.

The 2003 non-conference schedule has Utah playing three BCS schools: Texas A&M, California and Oregon-the latter two in Salt Lake City. Utah also has a home game with Utah State and is looking to add another non-league road game to bring its schedule to 12 games.

Meyer, a native of Ashtabula, Ohio, graduated from Cincinnati in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He played defensive back for the Bearcat football team. He received a master’s degree in administration from Ohio State in 1988. He and his wife Shelley have three children: Nicole (11), Gigi (9) and Nathan (3).

1986 Ohio State Tight Ends
1987 Ohio State Wide Receivers
1988 Illinois State Outside Linebackers
1989 Illinois State Quarterbacks/Receivers
1990 Colorado State Wide Receivers
1991 Colorado State Wide Receivers
1992 Colorado State Wide Receivers
1993 Colorado State Wide Receivers
1994 Colorado State Wide Receivers
1995 Colorado State Wide Receivers
1996 Notre Dame Wide Receivers
1997 Notre Dame Wide Receivers
1998 Notre Dame Wide Receivers/Special Teams
1999 Notre Dame Wide Receivers
2000 Notre Dame Wide Receivers
2001 Bowling Green Head Coach
2002 Bowling Green Head Coach