COLUMBUS — Three days removed from surgery to relieve pressure from a cyst on his brain, Urban Meyer supervised Ohio State’s first day of spring practice Tuesday.
He did just about everything he usually does. He just wasn’t quite as loud doing it.
Asked if he was limited in any way by the operation to alleviate recurring headaches, Meyer said there was one bit of advice from doctors.
“Just watch how long I scream,” he said. “I’m not kidding you. And how long I blow the whistle. So I had (operations assistant Fernando Lovo) blowing the whistle today and it didn’t sound very good. It didn’t sound the same. So I’ll be back after spring break. You’ll hear it again.”
A cyst on the surface of his brain was drained during a procedure at Ohio State Medical Center. He said it wasn’t the first time he’d encountered problems with the congenital growth.
“Not great, I feel good,” he said after the three-hour practice. “I’ve had it for several years. It’s a cyst, an arachnoid cyst. It surfaced a couple of times, once in ‘98 and once in ‘04 and a couple of other times. It’s just something you’ve got to manage.”
Meyer had health problems that caused him to step down twice during his tenure at Florida, where he won two national championships.
Before taking the job at Ohio State in November 2011 in the wake of the ugly Jim Tressel/tattoo scandal, Meyer’s family forced him to sign a contract pledging that he would not overdo it and would try to remain healthy.
He still has that framed contract in his office at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“I’m not going to be ignorant like I was before,” Meyer said. “If something happens, I’m going to get it fixed. I just put it off, put it off, put it off.
It had reached that point” where something needed to be done.
Meyer wore a white Ohio State ball cap, scarlet windbreaker, khakis and white running shoes as he walked from position group to position group.
He has a boomerang-shaped scar a few inches long on his left temple. At one point during Tuesday’s practice, his injured star quarterback Braxton Miller walked up to him in the middle of Ohio State’s indoor practice facility and asked to see the scar, which was hidden under his cap.
Miller had surgery on his throwing shoulder on Feb. 21. He was at Tuesday’s first practice, his right arm in a sling. He stood behind the other quarterbacks, occasionally encouraging them. In his stead, sophomore Cardale Jones and freshmen J.T. Barrett and Stephen Collier will split up the snaps during the 15 workouts in March and April.
Meyer spoke to the team for several minutes shortly after practice began. After the workout, he talked to reporters for 12 minutes. His voice was low and somewhat raspy.
The Buckeyes moved indoors for their first workout of the spring because the temperatures outside were below freezing.
Meyer and his staff will have a busy spring. They must replace 10 starters, including most of the offensive line, and Miller, the Big Ten’s two-time MVP won’t take a snap.
The Buckeyes are missing six starters on offense and four on defense from a team which went 12-2 a year ago. The Buckeyes won their first 24 games with Meyer, former coach at Florida, Utah and Bowling Green, on the sidelines. But they closed out the most recent season with losses to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game and to Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Meyer wants his team to play hard and with more instinct.
“We were a what-if defense last year: What if they did this? I saw it from our coaches and saw it from our players,” Meyer said. “I just want to see guys trigger and go. It’s been that way since Day 1 in 2001, when I first became a head coach. I don’t want a team that’s scared to make mistakes. I don’t want a team that’s thinking. I want a team that goes for 4 to 6 seconds and when they put their foot on the ground, it’s from Point A to Point B as fast and as hard as you can go.”
The Buckeyes will finish their workouts with the annual spring game on April 12 at Ohio Stadium.
Junior Chase Farris, an Elyria High grad, will be held out of spring drills while continuing to recover from knee surgery last season. Farris has moved back to offensive line, where he played in 2012 before being converted to defensive line last season when Tommy Schutt was injured in the preseason.
The 6-foot-4, 308-pound Farris was a first-team All-Ohio defensive lineman for the Pioneers.
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP.