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Urban Meyer Traveled To Samoa, Attended General Conference To Learn Players’ Backgrounds

Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer celebrates winning the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – When Urban Meyer took over the Utah football program in 2003, he didn’t know he was going to have one of the most diverse teams he has ever had in his career.

Utah was Meyer’s second head coaching job after leaving Bowling Green for Salt Lake City. When he arrived, he had to familiarize himself with the different backgrounds and cultures of his Utah team.

“I share this and it’s very appropriate for right now with what this country is going through,” Meyer told KSL Sports. “So, when I first went to Utah it was the most diverse football team I’ve ever had, you know, black, white, Hispanic, many of Polynesian Mormon, non Mormons. So you’re talking about the melting pot, and I had no idea.”

Listen to Meyer’s full interview on the Crimson Corner podcast, below.

Getting To Know Polynesian Culture

When Meyer arrived at Utah, he didn’t know much about the Polynesian culture at Utah and the background of his players.

“I just have not been around the Polynesian culture very much and it took me a while,” Meyer said. “The first thing I did is I wanted to learn more. So I flew out to Hawaii, I actually flew to Samoa to recruit but also to meet with the families because I wanted to learn about their culture.”

Attending LDS General Conference

Meyer said he wanted to get to know the culture of his players – many of whom were Polynesians and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I’m Catholic, and I went to a General Conference and met with (former Senator) Orrin Hatch,” Meyer said. “I just studied the Mormon religion because I think that’s one of the faults that we all have. I’m not saying other people have faults, but all of us, you know, show respect for someone’s culture, their background, learn about it. Talk to them about it.”

Understanding their beliefs helped him relate to his players.

“What I found, what I walked away from, is that the Polynesian culture is the most incredible cultures (and) one of the best I’ve ever been around. I just love those families,” Meyer stated.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.