Urban Meyer told a story at the Ohio high school football coaches' convention, and five times he reiterated it was a true story, and then once more at the end for good measure.
And once he hit the key part of the story about Woody Hayes and the turtle, it made sense. Because it's the most unbelievable thing anyone has heard in a long time (UPDATE: and it seems it was truly unbelievable, since Ohio State late Tuesday released an advisory saying Meyer was exaggerating and joking when he told the story. See the end of the post).
Hayes was notoriously tough when he was Ohio State's coach and expected the same out of his players. Shortly after Earle Bruce had taken over as Buckeyes coach following Hayes' departure, Bruce had Hayes come and talk to the team to fire the players and staff up. Meyer, a young assistant, sat in the back.
And, if you're a man, get ready to cringe.
Here's the story, as seen on the video above starting at 2:12, transcribed by CoachingSearch.com:
"So I guess Ohio State had lost the bowl game, so (Earle) Bruce brings in Woody Hayes. I had been there just a week and I'm thinking, 'Holy, this is Coach Hayes.' I'm sitting in the back. Coach Hayes was not healthy at the time, but stands up and starts laying into the coaching staff about toughness. That we have no toughness in the program. That's why we lost the game. On and on and screaming, this old guy pounding the table. He says, 'We have no toughness, and the reason is because you're not tough. No one on this staff is tough enough, and that's a problem.'
"He reaches down and grabs this box, slides the top and there was something in the box moving around. He reaches in and he pulls out this turtle. He reaches down, this turtle's snapping and he says, 'I'm going to show you toughness.' He unzips his pants and takes out whatever he takes out. The turtle reaches up and snaps at him. You see the veins and the sweat (on Hayes). He screams at the coaches, 'That's toughness! That's f'n toughness!' He reaches down, pokes the turtle right in the eye and it falls off. He wipes the sweat off his forehead and says, 'That's the problem. We don't have anybody in this room tough enough to do that right there."
Oh. My. God.
All we can say is ... you win, Coach Hayes. You are the toughest guy in the room. Not gonna try to top that one. Hurts to even consider. Congratulations.
Meyer had a punchline at the end of the story too, coming at the expense of coach Tim Hinton, who was on that Ohio State staff with Meyer (and is back on the Buckeyes' staff now).
"Tim Hinton – big Woody Hayes fan – raises his hand and says, 'Coach, I'd do this. Just promise not to poke me in the eye.'"
So there you go. Woody Hayes is the toughest/craziest man ever. And I will run the other way every time I see a turtle from now on.
UPDATE: Ohio State set the record straight, and apparently Meyer was just foolin' around about Coach Hayes (and we can all breathe a sigh of relief).
Ohio State has sent out an email informing the media that Urban Meyer's joke about Woody Hayes is a joke, and nothing more #TurtleGate
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) February 12, 2013
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