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Ohio State’s Urban Meyer says he’ll step down after Rose Bowl, citing health reasons

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Ohio State University head football coach Urban Meyer is calling it quits after the Rose Bowl because of health problems, he said Tuesday.

In 2014, the 54-year-old had surgery on a brain cyst that was causing him severe headaches, and while he felt he could manage the headaches, they returned — most notably, he said, during a 2017 game against Penn State in which he was “hit real hard.”

In October, a headache brought him to his knees during the Indiana game, but he later told Yahoo Sports he was managing the headaches with medication.

On Tuesday, however, Meyer said, “I believe I will not coach again.”

The three-time national champion skipper’s announcement came a day after Buckeyes fans learned quarterback Dwayne Haskins is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, given to college football’s most outstanding player, and two days after the Buckeyes narrowly missed the four-team College Football Playoff.

The Buckeyes finished the season 12-1, but Meyer was not on the sideline for three games because he was serving a suspension stemming from his handling of domestic violence allegations against one of his former assistants.

Ryan Day, who coached the Buckeyes during Meyer’s absence and was promoted this year to offensive coordinator, will take the team’s reins upon Meyer’s departure.

Athletic director Gene Smith said Day is “a good human being and a good family man, and we’re blessed to have him.” After saying he was honored to head such a prestigious program, Day thanked Meyer and Meyer’s wife, Shelley.

“I can’t put into words what you did for me and my family,” he said. “Your legacy will live on forever.”

Ohio State suspended Meyer without pay for the first three games of 2018 after he and Gene Smith “failed to take sufficient management action” on spousal abuse allegations involving ex-assistant coach Zach Smith.

The school, which was already embroiled in separate scandals involving alleged sex abuse by a now-deceased athletics doctor and a diving coach, put Meyer on leave August 1.

Meyer, who had a “core values” banner in the locker room demanding his players treat women with respect, apologized to Ohio State fans following word that he would be suspended.

“I’m fully aware I’m ultimately responsible for this situation,” Meyer said in August. “I followed my heart and not my head. At each juncture, I gave Zach Smith the benefit of the doubt.”

He later issued a statement apologizing directly to Smith’s wife, saying, “Let me say here and now what I should have said on Wednesday: I sincerely apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through.”

Ohio State finished the 2018 season at No. 6. Meyer’s last game will be against the ninth-ranked Washington Huskies in Pasadena, California.

It will be his first time coaching in the Rose Bowl. He heads into the game with an 82-9 record during his Ohio State tenure, including a perfect record over archrival Michigan.

Meyer won two national championships with the Florida Gators before taking the head coaching spot in Columbus ahead of the 2012 season. He led the Buckeyes to a national championship two years later. He previously coached at Bowling Green and Utah.

With a 186-32 record over 17 seasons, Meyer steps down with one of the best winning percentages in the history of college football. His tally includes 11 bowl wins, the inaugural 2015 College Football Playoff among them.

In April, Ohio State announced Meyer had signed a two-year contract extension that would keep him at the helm through 2022. He was slated to earn $7.6 million in 2018, making him the one of the highest paid coaches in the nation.