Urban Meyer just served Ryan Day and Ohio State a big helping of rat poison

Ohio State was extremely talented last year. Ohio State is almost always extremely talented.

Then came the offseason, when a slew of star players — defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau, running back TreVeyon Henderson and wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, among others — decided to remain in Columbus and chase a national title rather than enter the NFL Draft. That was followed by the signing of the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the country, per Rivals, including three five-star standouts.

Along the way, coach Ryan Day surgically worked the transfer portal to add pops at key positions including quarterback (Will Howard, Kansas State), running back (Quinshon Judkins, Ole Miss) and safety (Caleb Downs, Alabama).

The always strong Buckeyes are now even stronger. They are loaded, flush, brimming with ability heading into 2024. They even poached UCLA’s head coach (Chip Kelly) to be their offensive coordinator.

But don't take my word for it.

“As of now this is one of the most talented rosters in the last decade, maybe ever,” former Buckeye coach Urban Meyer told Adam King of 10TV in Columbus. “I mean, that's a big statement. They've got to play. But you look at the quality of athlete at every position. … I've never seen anything like it.”

Wait … ever?

It is uncertain if Meyer meant the most talented Ohio State roster “in the last decade, maybe ever” or most talented roster anywhere at any school. Either one would be a massive statement. The latter, though, would be hyperbolic … perhaps.

Nebraska in 1995? Miami in 2001? USC in 2004? Alabama in 2020?

Give Meyer this much: He’s paid by Fox Sports to offer big opinions and that’s a big one. He certainly isn’t shying away from what he thinks in an effort to lower expectations and egos to help Day, his former assistant.

Rat poison is what Nick Saban used to call this. A big heaping serving that does nothing but increase expectations on Day and the Buckeyes to win the national championship or explain what the heck happened.

And when it comes to former national champion Ohio State coaches — it isn’t just Meyer.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that many great players in that building all at once — every position, every place you turn,” Jim Tressel said. “So Ryan’s done a great job. Ohio State has done a great job.”

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 13: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day addresses his team after the Ohio State Spring Game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ryan Day addresses his team after the Ohio State Spring Game at Ohio Stadium in April. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Day has done an incredible job building the roster. Recruiting was always good in Columbus, but Meyer modernized it before Day has managed to take it to an even higher level — OSU currently has the No. 1 class for 2025.

And Day has done a great job, by nearly any standard, coaching the team — he’s 56-8 in five-plus seasons with three trips to the playoffs.

The problem is, he hasn’t been great enough for Ohio State. He hasn’t won a national title, of course. And he’s lost three consecutive games to Michigan.

All of which turns up the heat on this season. There aren’t many excuses available — not with Jim Harbaugh in the NFL and former coaches salivating over the assemblage of players. Anything less than everything — a national title — will probably feel like a failure. That’s a brutal standard. It’s only getting cemented though with comments about all-time roster talent.

"I said at my opening news conference, you have to beat The Team Up North and win every game after that," Day said this week. "The pressure is the same every year. I just like the pressure when you have a pretty good team behind you."

The problem with "the most talented ever" talk is it immediately invites comparisons to championship teams of the past — such as the aforementioned. Winning it all though requires more than good players. There’s health, luck, chemistry and more.

Meyer won a national title at Ohio State with his 2014 team, but the roster a season later was probably more “talented.” It just happened to stumble against Michigan State.

And then, perhaps most notably, there is the competition.

Yes, Ohio State has a loaded roster. So does Georgia, though. So does Texas. So does Oregon and so on.

And this is a new era of college football. The Big Ten is 18 teams strong now — meaning games at Oregon, at Penn State and the finale with the Wolverines. The league no longer has divisions, so any Big Ten championship game matchup will likely feature a rematch with one of those three, not a speed bump from the old Big Ten West.

Then comes a national playoff requiring three or four victories in a field that will likely feature four SEC teams.

No offense to Meyer and Tressel, but this isn’t how it used to work. Winning it all in 2024 isn’t just about having great players and great coaching; it’s surviving a gauntlet of competition in a marathon of a season that doesn’t end until Jan. 20.

Maybe this is the most talented Ohio State team anyone has ever seen. Or even the most talented team anywhere that Meyer has ever seen — including his old Florida Gator squads or the Alabama teams that sometimes defeated them.

That alone won’t be enough, however.

Good on the old Buckeye coaches for offering their opinion, but for Ryan Day staring at a career-defining season, this probably isn’t helping.