The beat goes on in our Championship Weekend Preview series with our second head coach profile, this one on OSU head coach Nick Myers. Before we look at coach Myers, I definitely encourage you to check out Chris’ posts on the 2017 Maryland Terrapins and his other article today on Terrapins head coach John Tillman. Both were great and I’m not just saying that because Chris is my boy. After you are done those, here’s my post from earlier today on the news that Netanya, Israel is going to host the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships.
We will be providing lots of content this week in the lead up to Championship Weekend. We’ll have team previews, a spotlight on each coach, and a profile on one of the top players for each team. Additionally, Chris, Marisa, and Joe will be on the ground in Foxborough from Friday through the title game on Memorial Day, so look out for lots of posts, videos, interviews and other content from the College Crosse fam over the next 6 days.
For now, let’s delve into the background and career of Ohio State head coach Nick Myers. To get you started here’s a great podcast I found from the Baggataway Pod interviewing coach Myers.
Background & Early Coaching Start.
A native of Kennebunk, Maine, Nick Myers grew up in The Pine Tree State and graduated from Kennebunk High School in 1997. Myers went on to attend Springfield College in Massachusetts where he played lacrosse, ultimately earning Division III All-America honors in 2001. Moreover, he was a three-time All-NEWMAC selection and the 2000 conference player of the year.
Coach Myers actually began his coaching career with Ohio State. Shortly after graduation Myers became a volunteer assistant coach with OSU from 2002-2003, helping Ohio State earn a trip to the 2003 NCAA Tournament. Myers’ time as a volunteer assistant coincided with his brother Pat’s time as a four year letterwinner for Ohio State from 2000-2003. Pat was quite the baller for the Buckeyes, as he was a two-time All-Great Western Lacrosse League selection and the conference’s Rookie of the Year in 2000. Pat also went into coaching and is presently an assistant coach at Penn.
Coach Myers’ time at OSU as a volunteer assistant helped propel him to a position with Butler as an assistant coach in 2003 under then head coach Craig Kahoun. Coach Kahoun noted that one of the things that stood out the most about his then assistant was that "Nick's intensity and work ethic is special. He brings more of what we need to the table and will be a great addition to the staff." Those attributes are still evident today in Coach Myers’ coaching style.
Back To Ohio State.
After two seasons with Butler, Coach Myers returned to Ohio State for the 2006 season as an assistant coach under now UNC head coach Joe Breschi. Coach Myers was the offensive coordinator for OSU for three seasons, and helped guide OSU to a win over Cornell in the 2008 NCAA Tournament for the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win and berth in the quarterfinal round.
Ohio State saw a dramatic increase in their offensive production while Myers was the offensive coordinator. Indeed, OSU went from a little over 9.5 goals/game in 2006, to 11.23 goals/game in 2007, to nearly 13 goals/game in 2008 (OSU was 3rd in the nation in scoring in Myers’ last season as an assistant coach).
Shortly after the end of the 2008 campaign, Coach Breschi left Ohio State to become the head coach at the University of North Carolina, his alma mater. In an interview with Lacrosse Magazine shortly after he was hired by UNC, but before coach Myers was officially named the head coach of Ohio State, coach Breschi let it be known in no uncertain terms that he felt that Myers was the best choice to succeed him at OSU.
We spoke to [Ohio State assistant coach] Nick Myers earlier this week, and he expressed a strong desire to succeed you there. Would you like to see the Buckeyes hire a name brand coach elsewhere or give an up-and-coming assistant the opportunity?
I'll say this - Ohio State is going to do the best job to get the person for that job, no question about it. That being said, my feelings are that Nick Myers is the right guy for the job. I'm supporting him 100 percent to get that job. He was such a big part of building it, our success, for two years as a volunteer and three years as our head assistant coach. He's a terrific person who has grown as an individual and coach, as a leader of young men. I would be absolutely thrilled if they gave him the opportunity to lead Ohio State.
Coach Breschi definitely has a good eye for talent and is a great head coach, but he might be an even better publicist. Shortly after the above Lacrosse Magazine article was published (June 27, 2008), assistant coach Nick Myers was promoted to head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes on July 10, 2008.
In an article a week after the announcement, coach Myers spoke glowingly about coach Breschi and where he thought he could take the program in the years to come.
“He’s been like a father to me,” Myers said referring to Breschi in a phone conversation last weekend. “He taught me more than just lacrosse. I wouldn’t be in this position without Coach Breschi. I’ve worked hard for this and sometimes it helps to be in the right place at the right time.”
Nick’s brother Pat agreed with Nick’s assessment of what transpired last week in a phone interview on Sunday, but with an additional thought. “Sure it helps to be in the right place at the right time, but he’s also the right guy for that job,” said Pat.
Nick was one of four candidates for the head coaching position, but his passion for the school and the Ohio State men’s lacrosse program made him stand out.
“We are excited about having Nick Myers as our men’s lacrosse coach,” Ohio State assistant athletics director TJ Shelton said in the university’s press release announcing the hire. “We had a quality pool of candidates and at the end of the day Nick emerged as the one to lead our program forward. His commitment to the student-athlete both in the classroom and in the community is invaluable. Nick is a strong recruiter and believes in developing the whole person.”
After going 11-6 in 2008 and making it to the 2008 NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals, OSU receded a bit in coach Myers’ first few seasons as head coach. The Buckeyes were 8-8 in 2009, 7-8 in 2010, 8-8 in 2011, & 8-7 in 2012. Moreover, OSU wasn’t the major player nationally then like it is today, and the team struggled in the GWLL in 2009 and then the ECAC in 2010 & 2011. OSU went 5-1 in the ECAC regular season in 2012 for second place in the conference, but lost to Fairfield in the first round of the 2012 ECAC Conference Tournament.
Off the field, OSU & Myers took some hits as well. 2008 All-America honorable mention midfielder Peet Poillion transferred to UMBC for his final year of eligibility and top 10 recruit Joe Morasco decommitted from the Buckeyes for Syracuse. Morasco would go on to have a prolific career at Syracuse and was a finalist for the Tewaraaton Award in 2013.
Despite the modest start to his head coaching career, you could tell that Myers was creating something special at OSU, and only needed some time to recruit the kind of players that would best match what he and his staff were building in Columbus. As this video interview below demonstrates, Myers clearly understood that what he was trying to build at OSU was going to be difficult, but he truly believed that they were on the right track to get to that elite level.
The 2009 interview is very interesting. Despite Myers’ clear conviction in what he was trying to do at OSU, it seems pretty obvious that he also clearly understood that it would take a few years to turn the program into a consistent contender and national player. Now, compare how he looks in the 2009 video, to how he looks in this October 2012 video below previewing the 2013 season.
After four years as head coach, Myers is much more polished and confident in the 2012 video, and his growth as a head coach is self-evident. The video was a sign of good things to come, as OSU improved dramatically in 2013.
Ohio State went 13-4 in 2013 and was 7-2 in the ECAC regular season. The Buckeyes learned from their 2012 conference tournament performance and went on to beat Loyola and then Denver to win the conference’s 2013 automatic qualifier. The Buckeyes earned a 3 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and made it to their second quarterfinal appearance ever after defeating Towson in the first round. While OSU would ultimately lose to Cornell in the Elite 8, the 2013 season demonstrated that all the work Myers and the program had done in the previous 5 seasons was beginning to pay major dividends.
While OSU struggled in 2014, going 6-8 overall, the Buckeyes actually won the ECAC regular season crown with a 3-1 conference record and made the 2014 conference tournament.
The Big Ten Years & Team USA.
2015 was a monumental year for coach Myers & OSU, as the Buckeyes officially moved to the Big Ten, their third conference since 2009. The process began a couple years before the official first season when the conference announced their intention to add men’s and women’s lacrosse as official Big Ten sports back in 2013 with Johns Hopkins joining the conference as an affiliate. (Ed. Note: 2015 was also the first season I began writing for College Crosse as a contributor. As you can see in my very first post for the site, I had high hopes for the conference even back then.)
OSU went 12-7 overall in 2015 and 3-2 in the Big Ten regular season, and earned a 3 seed in the first ever Big Ten conference tournament. The Buckeyes upset Maryland in the first round of the 2015 Big Ten Tournament, before falling to Hopkins in the Big Ten title game. OSU received a bid to the 2015 NCAA Tournament as an unseeded at-large and then went on to stun two time defending champs and #5 seed Duke in Durham in the first round of the tournament. (Ed. Note: No big deal, but I called that upset back in 2015.)
OSU would go on to lose to Denver in the the Elite 8 after their big win over Duke, but regardless of their quarterfinal loss, 2015 was another sign that Ohio State was becoming a force in D1. The team responded well after a lackluster 2014 to make the Elite 8 for the 3rd time ever in program history, and second time in three years. After not making the tournament for his first four seasons, coach Myers now had two quarterfinal appearances under his belt, and it was readily apparent that he had Ohio State going in the right direction.
2015 was also a big year for coach Myers outside of OSU, as he was named the head coach of the 2016 U.S. Men’s Under-19 National Team in February of 2015. Team USA made a great choice with their head coach, as the United States would go on to defeat Team Canada 13-12 in the U-19 FIL Championship Game in Coquitlam, British Columbia in the summer of 2016 to win the gold medal. Myers is still the head coach of the U-19 team. Here’s a great video of a very happy coach Myers talking to IL’s Geoff Shannon after Team USA won the 2016 gold medal.
Coach Myers and his lads had a bit of a setback in 2016, going 7-8 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten regular season, ultimately missing out on the 2016 Big Ten Tournament. Despite the sub-500 record, OSU was a tough squad to play in 2016. 2 of Ohio State’s conference losses were by a combined 2 goals (PSU & JHU), and another (MD) was by 2 goals. Moreover, OSU lost two non-conference games to Towson (in OT) & Notre Dame, both were 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, by two goals combined as well. We always say around here that there are no moral victories in lacrosse, but losing 5 games by a combined 6 goals was a pretty tough break for the 2016 squad. Notwithstanding the below .500 record in 2016, OSU wasn’t that far off from their 2015 & 2013 form.
After 8 seasons in Columbus, things were definitely peculating for the Buckeyes and coach Myers. While Myers certainly reached a very respectable level of success at Ohio State through 2016, it was 2017 when it finally all came together for him and his team. I’ll break down Ohio State’s 2017 season in my next post for our 2017 NCAA Championship Weekend Preview. (Ed Note: Spolier alert!! OSU made me look very smart in 2017.)