I was stunned, and thoroughly impressed, to hear Ohio State University’s Ezekiel Elliott call out his coach, Urban Meyer, following the Buckeyes’ 17-14 loss to Michigan State on Saturday.
I don’t think I have ever heard a college football player speak out about the performance of a coaching staff the way Elliott did following the showdown of the Big 10 powers.
Elliott, who entered the game with 15 consecutive 100-plus yard rushing games under his belt, and one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy, carried the ball 12 times for 33-yards, and a touchdown.
Elliott blamed Meyer’s conservative play calling.
“How we lost, I just feel like we weren’t put in the right opportunity to win this game, we weren’t put in the right situations to win this game,” said Elliott, to reporters. “I don’t think Michigan State was better than us. They weren’t. We didn’t execute.
“What happened today, it was kind of like a bad, bad dream. Offense had a rough day, and I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed in the play calling, I’m disappointed in the situations we were put in, and I wish it all played out differently.
“It’s very disappointing,” Elliott said. “The one drive that we had where we kind of had some momentum when we scored after the strip sack, the plays we ran, we ran a lot of gap schemes and we were gashing them.
“You guys saw that on that drive, and we had a lot of momentum. Honestly, we didn’t see those plays at all for the rest of the game. Those plays weren’t called anymore. I asked for those plays to be called, and they weren’t. It just hurts. It hurts a lot.”
Now, I am sure there have been a lot guys who would have liked to say something in the past, but few who have had the nerve. But why not? Myer makes about $6 million coaching the Buckeyes. He and his coaching staff are the professionals, the players are the amateurs.
Elliott is one of the few off that team that will earn his living playing professional football.
To be sure, Elliott is going to catch a lot of criticism for his comments, and he is going to be pressured to walk those statements back. It doesn’t matter if he does or doesn’t now, because he already said what he really felt.
However, Elliott has put in literally hundreds of hours in sweat equity, and should has earned the right to speak his mind.
And what should be important to note in his statements is what he didn’t say. At no time did he criticize his teammates. And I assure you, it is unlikely that you will hear Elliott’s teammates criticizing his statements. If anything, I would imagine a lot of his teammates agree with what he said.
Elliott, a junior, is in the rare position to speak his mind. It is no secret he plans to enter the NFL draft.
“Honestly, this is my last game in the Shoe,” he said. “I mean, there’s no chance of me coming back next year.”
As for how Meyer will take his statements? I am sure he will be fine. He has $6 million reasons to handle criticism, no matter where it comes from.