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What's in a name?

September 16, 2012
By JIM NAVEAU - Special to the Herald-Star

COLUMBUS - Coaches saying a player is like a son to them is something you hear a lot.

Coaches who name a son after a player are a lot less common. Tom Izzo's son Steven Mateen is named for Mateen Cleaves, the first great player his dad recruited to play basketball for him at Michigan State, but no others immediately come to mind.

So, in case there is any doubt how Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer feels about defensive lineman John Simon, he went straight to the naming rights after OSU's 35-28 win over California on Saturday.

"If we have another child, I want to name him Urban John Simon Meyer," the Ohio State coach said.

Since Meyer and his wife are both in their late 40s, it's probably an idle boast. But you get the idea.

He really likes John Simon.

Or maybe he really likes what Simon represents - hard work, dedication, a team-first attitude and being a man of a few well-chosen words.

Meyer picking out a defensive player for praise wouldn't have been the first bet most people placed on a day when Ohio State's defense gave up 512 yards in a narrow escape from an upset.

It was the first time OSU had given up more than 500 yards in a game since it allowed 578 yards in a 45-31 win over Minnesota in 2005.

What won Meyer over was that Simon played with a shoulder injury, then gave an emotional speech to his teammates in the locker room after the game.

"He makes all of us look in the mirror and say, 'Are we doing enough for our team?' " Meyer said.

Simon said, "It was a tough game for us. I was a little dinged up. I wanted to go out there with the team and help any way I could. I felt like I had to be in the game.

"I'm not that dinged up. I feel pretty good right now. It's college football. It's your job, especially as a leader, to be out there on the field."

About being chosen by the coaches for a post-game talk, he said, "I try to say things that are important and if I don't have anything I feel is very important to say, I won't say it. That makes it so when you speak, everyone listens."

When it comes to anyone being named after him, he didn't have much to say.

"That's between him and Shelley. It's not my call," Simon said, with a smile.

What is more likely to be a point of discussion between Meyer and his defense this week is allowing those 512 yards.

OSU's defense was definitely more aggressive about getting pressure on the passer on Saturday. It had six quarterback sacks after having only three the rest of the season and there were several big hits by OSU defenders.

But tackling was a huge issue.

"Bad tackling. That's all I know is bad tackling," Meyer said. "We've got to get that figured out. It's time to play Ohio State defense and that wasn't Ohio State defense."

"Five hundred twelve yards. That's terrible. We'd better get that cleaned up or we're going to lose a game."

 
 

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