As the 50-year-old coach of reigning national champ Ohio State sorts through quarterbacks for the 2015 season, he has his eye on the shifting fortunes of two of his former Florida stars.
DAN PATRICK:Who's your starting quarterback today?
URBAN MEYER: We can't name one today. Cardale [Jones] went through spring practice. We're getting Braxton [Miller] and J.T. [Barrett] healthy. We have three viable guys.
DP:What about reports that Miller might transfer?
UM: Those surfaced in January, and I asked him, and he said absolutely not. Obviously anyone can change his mind. All indications are that Braxton is staying.
DP:What's it like to walk out to 100,000 fans at a spring game?
UM: I was anticipating a good 80,000 because we've had that before. It looked like every seat was taken. I wanted to make sure we were doing something so they'd enjoy it, but our job is not to keep the fans happy then. We have to keep them happy in September.
DP:What was your reaction to Aaron Hernandez's first-degree murder conviction?
UM: Horrible all the way around.
DP:How surprised were you when you first heard he was linked to the crime?
UM: Just like you would imagine. My mouth dropped.
DP:Did you sign off on him to Bill Belichick?
UM: Coach Belichick is a friend of mine. I was very honest, [saying] you need to keep an eye on him. Unfortunately you can't lock him up and keep [him] away from [his] homeboys. I guess that's what happened.
DP:What do you think of your former QB Tim Tebow signing with the Eagles?
UM: I just talked to him the other day. I'm really excited for him. He's in a great place.
DP:What was the disconnect between college and the pros for Tebow?
UM: There really wasn't [a disconnect]. He took a Broncos team that was a mess [in 2011] and almost made the Super Bowl. The whole Jets thing was not good for all involved. Then he got a chance with the Patriots, and that didn't work out. The problem with Tim—and this is the only problem—is he creates so much conversation and so many distractions, and that spooks some teams.
DP:Do you think the media have hurt his chances?
UM: I've talked to many of the coaches involved. One thing every coach wants is to focus on his team. When all of a sudden ESPN has people watching your practice, you wake up and there's Tebow this, Tebow this, Tebow this—and it's all about a backup quarterback—that did wear on people.... I think we're beyond that now. He's just a quarterback trying to make a team.
Roger Goodell admitted that pronouncing players' names on draft night is tough—he struggled with Marcus Mariota—but it could be worse. "I always tease [NHL commissioner] Gary Bettman," Goodell said. "I'm glad I don't have some of the guys he has from Eastern Europe.... You try to do the best you can. It's an important day. This is their dream come true." ... West Virginia receiver Kevin White, who was taken No. 7 by Chicago, told me why he chose to go conservative with a beige outfit last Thursday. "I don't want to be up there for worst suits in the draft," White said.... Bears guard Kyle Long on how he hurt his left hand in the Pro Bowl: "When you try to block Calais Campbell and you're a human being—because he's not a human being—and you put your hands on him, your fingers don't agree with what you're doing."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
TYLER KAUFMAN/ICON SPORTSWIRE (MEYER)
JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES (GOODELL)
RICH GRAESSLE/ICON SPORTSWIRE (WHITE)
BRIAN KERSEY/GETTY IMAGES (LONG)