Urban Meyer: Losing lingers, hurts

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Losing has never come easy for Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, and he'll be the first to admit it.

"I've never, no, I've never handled it well. Awful loser," Meyer said recently. "I guess I'd rather be known as that than as a good loser."

Meyer, 49, knows that much of the country views him as a less than gracious loser. He hasn't had to show it much, however, as his teams have lost only 24 times in his 12 seasons and 152 games as coach at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State.

He says he doesn't care what others think about him or his program. He either ignores or is unaware of the opinions of those outside of the bubble he's built around his team.

"Once again, perception isn't something that drives me," he said.

The Buckeyes are coming off a 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. The setback cost Ohio State the conference crown and a likely trip to Pasadena and a spot opposite No. 1 Florida State in the BCS title game. It also ended the Buckeyes' record 24-game winning streak under Meyer.

"I could tell it was kind of tough for him because we all were expecting to go to the national championship game," linebacker Ryan Shazier said.

The Buckeyes instead will play Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1 in Miami.

After their first bowl workout, Meyer gathered the players and bared his emotions in what the coach called "a cathartic moment."

"He's obviously the guy we look at as a template for how to handle things like this," offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. "He came back from a recruiting trip and came to the middle of the huddle at the end of practice. He was telling us how much he loves us and everything. That meant a lot to us.

"When you hear a guy like that come in and say things like that, it motivates you to move forward and win another game."

As difficult as losses have been for Meyer to swallow, he's made an effort to at least appreciate victories more.

"We went on a nice run, and I kept reminding myself through the journey to enjoy this thing, man. Keep drinking that Kool-Aid, [because] someday you might have an empty glass," Meyer said. "You don't want to live your life always knowing that some pin is going to pop the balloon. But I did enjoy every one of those wins."

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.