I have to admit that I am befuddled by today's announcement that Ohio is hiring an Urban Meijer as their next head football coach. It was my understanding that the Meijer clan is exclusively rural and suburban, and having checked the central areas of Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Chicago, and Cincinnati, I am uncertain as to whether this Urban Meijer even exists. The smaller new concept store in Melrose Park, Illinois, near the CTA Blue Line may be the Urban Meijer, but I am not certain. I thought that Grand Rapids would be the most likely home of an Urban Meijer, but it turns out that even there they are merely suburban in location. It may be that Ohio plans to design, break ground, and construct an Urban Meijer in Columbus in time for the 2012 football season.
Having a store serve as head coach causes obvious logistical difficulties. Not only will Urban Meijer be unable to travel to road games, he (all news reports have been referring to the neuter Urban Meijer as a he) will not be able to fit inside Ohio Stadium without severely cutting into its seating capacity or covering up a significant portion of the field. No wonder, then, that there are rumors that Luke Fickell will stay on as assistant head coach, as Ohio will need a more ambulatory coach to handle gameday sideline duties.
Urban Meijer's inability to move will definitely affect his ability to recruit as he will be unable to make home visits to promising players - it goes without saying that hiring capable assistants as recruiters will be a must. However, when recruits come to Columbus on their campus visit he should be able to relate to them well: being ensconced in the inner city should give him a deep empathy for the problems of recruits with unstable family situations, and his competitive prices on thousands of items make it clear that he has something to offer every recruit.
The New York City-based Reputation Institute ranks him as one of the Top 30 most reputable coaches, but a scan of the Meijer corporate website shows a potential willingness to look the other way when it comes to NCAA violations. The first problem is their motto, "Higher standards. Lower prices." While higher standards are clearly laudable at any academic institution, I believe it was lower prices on tattoos that got Ohio into the NCAA mess in which they are currently embroiled. Looking deeper into the website, it appears as though Meijer offers team members the ability to "save instantly on thousands of products not at stores." If Urban Meijer participates in this offer Ohio will be looking at serious sanctions as a repeat rules violator.
Despite those concerns, I think Michigan fans should be wary of the many positives that Urban Meijer will bring to the Ohio program. Based on my scouting of the Ann Arbor-Saline Road and Carpenter Road locations, he will be up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week coaching his players, breaking down film, devising game plans for upcoming opponents, and he will always be sure to keep some of his focus on "that corporate headquarters up north." He will also have excellent ties with Big Ten Network sponsors as he will have shelves stuffed with Rotel products. If he brings the Meijer values of being customer-centered, having a competitive spirit, and promoting freshness and familyness to Columbus, he will definitely improve the Buckeyes' record next year while promoting teamwork and loyalty, and Ohio will be a force to be reckoned with on and off the field.