ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Less than a year ago, Urban Meyer was conditioning more than 100 college football players to despise the University of Michigan. On Thursday, he spent a full five minutes praising the Wolverines for their offensive scheme.
It just felt strange.
Meyer took a job as an analyst with Fox Sports after parting ways with Ohio State due to a storm of controversy that hit the program last year.
Meyer's knowledge of football is unquestioned. He's one of the best coaches in college football history.
But listening to him evaluate Michigan will never feel normal.
Meyer sat down with Big Ten Network's Gerry DiNardo to discuss Michigan's use of two quarterbacks in the opener. Starter Shea Patterson threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns while Dylan McCaffrey gained 42 yards and a touchdown on eight rushing attempts.
"If McCaffrey is one of the hardest-working, best 11, I think the coach has an obligation to get him on the field," Meyer said.
While Meyer references "the coach" in this comment, he never referred to Jim Harbaugh by name. Is that a coincidence, or a shot at the Wolverines' head man, who just this offseason pointed out that controversy follows Meyer everywhere he goes?
That probably wouldn't be a consideration for any other analyst. But this is Urban Meyer.
A moment later, the former Ohio State head coach complimented two Michigan assistants while breaking down a read option play that turned into a first-down run for McCaffrey.
"This is really good schematics," Meyer said. "I would imagine (offensive line coach) Ed Warinner and (offensive coordinator Josh) Gattis were very involved in this, because this is what we did quite a bit with J.T. Barrett (at Ohio State)."
Meyer's breakdown of the film is tremendous and shows why he was hired as an analyst. But hearing him compliment players wearing Maize and Blue just feels weird.
He also broke down McCaffrey's touchdown run later in the drive.
"I love this formation because it puts the defense in a heck of a bind," Meyer said. "This is really advanced."
"There's been a lot said about Josh Gattis calling the plays and running the offense," DiNardo said. "This is a play that he brought with him, is it not?"
"Absolutely," Meyer said. "I've not seen him do this before. This is, you know, you've got to give him credit. I love this style of football. This is very hard to defend."
Meyer also showed how Michigan built in a passing option, turning a run-run option into a run-pass option, or RPO.
"This is really good stuff," Meyer said. "I also like what No. 84 (Sean McKeon) does. You can tell he's well-coached. He's actually making that defensive end think he's going to block him and then hugs up to block out. That's excellent, excellent.
"I'm anxious to see how good of an athlete McCaffrey is. You're going to find out here, because this seems to be what they want to do with him."
Meyer was certainly complimentary of Michigan, but seven years of hate doesn't dissolve in one film session.
I doubt Meyer and Harbaugh will be sitting down for a one-on-one interview anytime soon.
You can see the full segment below.
Why is Dylan McCaffrey's skill set so intriguing? @CoachUrbanMeyer breaks down how @UMichFootball used McCaffrey in their opener and discusses dual-QB systems. pic.twitter.com/CpeCfcz5DJ — Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) September 5, 2019
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