Since he was a kid playing baseball, football and basketball back in Ashtabula, Ohio, Meyer could handle the pain, the long workouts and the criticism.
But the losses lingered and hurt.
Now that he’s the head football coach at Ohio State, things haven’t changed.
“I’ve never, no, I’ve never handled it well. Awful loser,” said Meyer, whose Buckeyes will take on Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3. “I guess I’d rather be known as that than as a good loser.”
Meyer hasn’t had much practice at losing – his teams have only lost 24 times in his 12 years and 152 games as a head coach at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and with the Buckeyes.
Fact is, he doesn’t care what others think about him, or his program.
The 49-year-old Meyer’s Buckeyes are coming off a 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 7.
The loss dropped the Buckeyes out of the running for a spot in the BCS national title game and also ended Meyer’s and the program’s record winning streak at 24 in a row.
Afterward, a photo taken inside the stadium showed a dejected Meyer eating pizza, glumly, while sitting in a golf cart. It went viral on the internet.
Next to the computer monitor behind the oak desk in his office sits a framed quote. It was taken from a letter he got at Bowling Green after a defeat.
It reads: “Don’t fear criticism. The stands are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down on the field are the doers, they make mistakes because they attempt many things.”
Asked whose words those are, Meyer shakes his head.
“It was an anonymous letter,” he said. “It’s been on my desk ever since.”