Compared to the man who coached Florida to two BCS national championships, the Ohio State version of Urban Meyer has a much different look. He's calmer on the sidelines and more committed to balance in his life, per his own comments.
Those changes may not have affected Meyer's on-field product: In only three seasons, he's built Ohio State into the best team in the country. But the changes that took place between leaving Florida and joining Ohio State reflect critical personal growth and a new take on his priorities in life.
Meyer himself credits a good portion of this change to a book he read during that hiatus. LEAD ... For God's Sake! is a leadership book with Christian messages that examines the motivations leaders face in their positions. Unlike many self-help and leadership books, LEAD book is told as a parable, starting out with a fictional story.
According to its author, Todd Gongwer, Meyer was given the book by ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge shortly after Meyer joined the network's college football coverage.
Gongwer said that Meyer read the book on a flight out to Stanford. By the time he landed, Meyer's outlook had changed. He emailed Gongwer immediately. Gongwer said that when he sent a reply email, he included his phone number.
A few minutes later, Meyer called.
"Within a few minutes you could tell this guy had genuinely experienced some deep pain physically, emotionally," Gongwer told ThePostGame. "He had lost sight of what was important, and now kind of had his eyes opened to those things that mattered most in life.
"As a result, he kind of poured out his heart. He said, 'This thing re-ignited a spark in me to get back in to coaching some day.'"
Gongwer and Meyer continued to talk, and the author took on a pseudo-role of advisor and consultant. Meyer, for his part, was eager to help Gongwer spread the news about the book and to share it with his own peers. Meyer wrote foreword in the paperback edition, published in 2014.
Gongwer also interviewed Meyer at length in his home back in 2011.
"When he originally got into [coaching] in 1986, [Meyer] was all about the relationships the camaraderie with the kids," Gongwer said. "As you move up the ladder, it’s so much harder to hold on to those things. You're busier, you’re so much farther up the ladder.
"[The drive to succeed] minimizes our ability to see the relationships that are closest to us in our lives. Spending time with those closest to us and even our relationships around us -- we get so caught up with winning that we lose sight of these things. ... [Meyer] would tell you he lost sight of those things at Florida."
Meyer is far from the only prominent sports figure to have read Gongwer's book. He said a variety of high-profile figures, from baseball's John Smoltz to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, have since picked up his book -- "I don't even know how they get it," he says.
Gongwer also cited Lane Kiffin as someone he has met with on several occasions, starting back when Kiffin was at USC. The author said that while Kiffin continues to work through the process of identifying his motivations and aligning his life with his priorities, he is "a changed man" today.
Meanwhile, Gongwer and Meyer continue to maintain a relationship. Gongwer says he talks to him on a semi-regular basis and sometimes visits as well, although he tries to stay out of the way and let Meyer manage his busy life. When they do speak, Gongwer's main focus is on seeing where Meyer's priorities and motivations lie, and whether he is structuring his life to strike that all-important balance.
So far, so good. And the wins keep on coming.