One of Saturday’s big games has No. 3 Ohio State facing No. 14 Oklahoma in Norman. The importance of this tilt even has the two coaches seeking secret counsel.
Monday, Urban Meyer dropped a scoop that he talked with Houston coach Tom Herman about the Sooners, who lost to the Cougars in the season opener. Now comes word that OU coach Bob Stoops called Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, one of his best friends in the coaching business, for some inside advice about the Buckeyes.
Oh, to have been an eavesdropper on those conversations. Here’s the next best thing.
SCENE: Meyer’s office in Columbus.
He picks up his iPhone7 and punches No. 2 on his speed dial; No. 1 is his wife Shelley. In Houston, Herman answers his Galaxy S7, treating the wisps of smoke as simply a challenge to his senses.
HERMAN: Hey, Urban. What’s up? How ya doin’, man? I drank an extra Red Bull and read that story in Bleacher Report about mental stress when you were at Florida and going to sleep by taking Ambien chased by a beer. Wow. You never told me that when I was on your staff.
MEYER: Well, I’ve decided to open up about some things. Actually, I’ve been seeing how you are handling stuff down there with that H-Town Takeover and getting a … what’s that thing called, a grill? What the hell is that, anyway?
HERMAN: (Ignoring the question while he shuffles through the latest Billboard R&B/Hip Hop charts to update music for practice) Big game this week, huh?
MEYER: Yeah and about half my team’s never been on a plane before. We’re gonna see “Sully” on Friday so they know how to handle a water evacuation.
HERMAN: Great preparation, pal. But I don’t think there’s that much water between Columbus and Norman.
MEYER: (Ignoring his former offensive coordinator’s smart aleck remark) So, any advice about going up against the Sooners?
HERMAN: You’ve seen the film. Mayfield is best when he’s running around with his hair on fire. Their back up is a freshman so hit Mayfield as often as you can. Don’t worry about them making halftime adjustments; they did the same thing in the second half they did in the first. And if they try a long field goal …
MEYER: (Interrupting) You are such a smug (expletive). Just because you’re a Mensa member, you don’t have to remind me how smart you are. And you better start respecting OU and the rest of the Big 12, bud.
HERMAN: Look, I’ve got a game in your neck of the woods Thursday at Cincinnati so I’m gonna haveta run … The Big 12? Ah, they’re never gonna let us in. They’re scared of us. Anyway, I’m not worried, we’re building facilities and I’ve got five stars lightin’ up my phone.
MEYER: Yeah, me too. Have you heard about our ’17 class? Don’t think you’ll have the best class; you’re playing for second place. … By the way, I bet your agent’s a happy camper. Where you coaching next year? USC? LSU? Auburn? Dallas Cowboys? … Herm … You there? HERM?
SCENE: Bob Stoops is driving his courtesy car from his home to campus and calls Mark Dantonio.
STOOPS: Hello? Jim Harbaugh, please.
DANTONIO: Ha ha. Very funny. You know I can’t stand that maniac. … Did you see that video of him picking his nose and then going to his mouth? Spalding in “Caddyshack,” right? And then he says he’s never eaten a booger?
STOOPS: (Laughter on both phones) Hell yeah we all have. Only most of us stopped when we got to kindergarten. … Anyway, I wanted to tell you again I appreciated the chance to visit your practices last spring. I got Urban and Ohio State coming in here Saturday and after the opener, man, really need a win.
DANTONIO: Yeah, well, don’t know how much I can help you. I’ll try. But I’m kinda busy getting ready for Notre Dame. We’ll have a tough time unless Brian Kelly starts screaming at his quarterback.
STOOPS: Well, my media relations guy told me Urban’s only lost four games at Ohio State and you beat him twice and last year you guys won in Columbus. Last time I coached against Meyer was in the BCS title game … damn it, we were the better team … I can’t believe we lost to Tebow … you know, we’d scored over 60 points in five straight games …
DANTONIO: (Interrupting). Bob, yeah, we talk about that game every time we get together. Well, last year against Ohio State, frankly, we were lucky. Urban really screwed the pooch last year the way he handled his quarterbacks and the play calling? Yeesh. We were damn happy that Zeke Elliott only had 12 carries. The bottom line is his team is loaded with talent and he had no choice but to start J.T. Barrett. You guys will need to rattle him. How’d you handle Houston’s QB?
STOOPS: Not worth a damn in the first half. And our secondary hasn’t come within an area code of an interception.
DANTONIO: Well, maybe you can get some pressure on J.T. and rattle him. I gotta run … I’ve been grinding on tape trying to figure out how to stop Kizer at Notre Dame. I cannot believe Kelly didn’t play him the whole game against Texas. They woulda won by two touchdowns.
STOOPS: OK, pal, good luck Saturday. And say hello to Harbaugh for me. (Laughing).