Urban Meyer to step down as Ohio State head coach after Rose Bowl

Ohio State University head football coach Urban Meyer is calling it quits after the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, the university said Tuesday,

Meyer opened a news conference joking that he was pleased to see everyone gathered for his 2-year-old grandson's birthday before thanking the staff and players who helped him to a successful seven seasons in Columbus.

He said he looked forward to coaching in the bowl game known as "the granddaddy of them all."

"It's always been a dream of mine and many of our coaches and players to compete in the Rose Bowl, and it's going to be an honor to represent the Big 10 Conference in that game," he said.

The three-time national champion skipper's announcement came a day after Buckeyes fans learned quarterback Dwayne Haskins is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, given to college football's most outstanding player, and two days after the Buckeyes narrowly missed the four-team College Football Playoff.

The Buckeyes finished the season 12-1, but Meyer was not on the sideline for three games because he was serving a suspension stemming from his handling of domestic violence allegations against one of his former assistants.

Ryan Day, who coached the Buckeyes during Meyer's absence and was promoted this year to offensive coordinator, will take the team's reins upon Meyer's departure.

Athletic director Gene Smith said Day is "a good human being and a good family man, and we're blessed to have him." After saying he was honored to head such a prestigious program, Day thanked Meyer and Meyer's wife, Shelley.

"I can't put into words what you did for me and my family," he said. "Your legacy will live on forever."

Ohio State suspended Meyer without pay for the first three games of 2018 after he and Gene Smith "failed to take sufficient management action" on spousal abuse allegations involving ex-assistant coach Zach Smith.

The school, which was already embroiled in separate scandals involving alleged sex abuse by a now-deceased athletics doctor and a diving coach, put Meyer on leave August 1.

Meyer, who had a "core values" banner in the locker room demanding his players treat women with respect, apologized to Ohio State fans following word that he would be suspended.

"I'm fully aware I'm ultimately responsible for this situation," Meyer said in August. "I followed my heart and not my head. At each juncture, I gave Zach Smith the benefit of the doubt."

He later issued a statement apologizing directly to Smith's wife, saying, "Let me say here and now what I should have said on Wednesday: I sincerely apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through."

Ohio State finished the 2018 season at No. 6. Meyer's last game will be against the ninth-ranked Washington Huskies in Pasadena, California.

It will be his first time coaching in the Rose Bowl. He heads into the game with an 82-9 record during his Ohio State tenure, including a perfect record over archrival Michigan.

Meyer won two national championships with the Florida Gators before taking the head coaching spot in Columbus ahead of the 2012 season. He led the Buckeyes to a national championship two years later. He previously coached at Bowling Green and Utah.

With a 186-32 record over 17 seasons, Meyer steps down with one of the best winning percentages in the history of college football. His tally includes 11 bowl wins, the inaugural 2015 College Football Playoff among them.

In April, Ohio State announced Meyer had signed a two-year contract extension that would keep him at the helm through 2022. He was slated to earn $7.6 million in 2018, making him the one of the highest paid coaches in the nation.