Dec 31st, 2018

Aviation Lessons from Urban Meyer

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer will retire from coaching following the Rose Bowl Game on January 1.  Urban Meyer coaching methods provide aviation lessons for the pilot.  Below are just three of the lessons.

Early Interactions

Falcon Stadium

My first “brush” with Urban Meyer came on November 1, 2003.  As I drove past Falcon Stadium, the Air Force Falcons battled the Utah Utes after a ridiculously early kickoff (to accommodate the televisions lords).  Urban Meyer was in his first year as head coach of the Utah squad.  I did not stop to watch the game; my wife was in labor, ready to deliver our fourth child. 

Urban Meyer next crossed my radar screen in the Fiesta Bowl, on January 1 2005.  The upstart Utes played the more established Pittsburgh Panthers and ran them off the field.  What caught my attention was a comment by the Fox TV analyst.  He said we attended practice this week.  It was the most organized football practice I have ever witnessed.  Commentators sometime just fill airtime with useless comments.  This comment, however, caught my attention.  He explained how each minute of practice was accounted for and each coach and player knew what was expected.  I filed that comment away.

Meyer and Tebow

Meyer went on to the University of Florida, winning two national titles and coaching Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow.  After some personal turmoil, Meyer took a break from coaching during the 2011 season.

Ohio State

He returned to coaching in 2012 as the headman at Ohio State.  Meyer was born and raised in Ohio and grew up rooting for the Buckeyes.  It seemed to be a match made in heaven. The record on the field confirmed the match.  His record at Ohio State was phenomenal.  He won 91 games and lost 9 – a winning percentage of 90.1%.  Ohio State won the national championship in 2014. 

Ohio State mascot; Brutus

Two things caught my attention while Meyer was at Ohio State.  First is his ability to detect trends in the game of football and implement them in his own program.  During his year away from coaching he served as a television analyst.  He noticed Oregon’s quick-paced offense.  He implemented that quick tempo at Ohio State and credited it for aiding the 2014 national championship squad.

The other item is his attention to detail.  Meyer personally coaches the special teams at Ohio State.  It is the phase of the game often overlooked by many big-time coaches.  Meyer is one of the few head coaches to personally oversee this segment of the squad.  His special team’s unit single handedly turned a likely loss into a win against Michigan State this year.

Aviation Lessons

Meyer’s coaching epitomizes good aviation lessons

In summary, Urban Meyer is very organized in his practices.  He foresees trends and adjusts for them.  Finally, he pays attention to the details.  These are all characteristics of a good pilot.

A superior pilot is organized in his/her training flights.  Time is not squandered; essential procedure and techniques are honed.  The superior pilot uses his/her situational awareness to forecast coming events and adjust for them.  As a plaque says in my office, “the superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations requiring the use his superior skills”. Finally, a superior pilot pays attention to the details such as altimeter settings, radio calls, precise headings on final approach, etc. 

These are all aviation lessons reinforced by Urban Meyer.