"You only have so much energy," said the former Irish assistant coach and current ESPN analyst. "Lou and Bob would always have to be concerned with whether they were saying the right things at all these functions. They had to be concerned with the walk from the church. And none of those things help you win football games.
"Those are the kinds of things that wore me out at Florida. But, especially at Notre Dame, it was almost a relief to go on the road."
And that’s exactly where the current incarnation of the Irish (1-2) find themselves on Saturday, on the road at Pittsburgh (2-1) – and on the backroads to a season that will take them another step toward the BCS plateau?
"They really should be 3-0," said Meyer, who this time will be on the outside looking in at Notre Dame, Saturday at Heinz Field, along with Dave Pasch and Chris Spielman as part of ESPN’s broadcast team for the game. "But as long as the game’s been played, taking care of the football is No. 1."
The ND sports info team unearthed this fun factoid about turnovers this week: Notre Dame’s nation leading 13 giveaways are the most through three games by an Irish team since 1977. That team committed 14 through its first three contests, but quarterback Joe Montana eventually helped elevate that team into a national champion.
Quarterback play, Meyer says, can help this ND team perpetuate the turnaround it made in a 31-13 conquest of then-15th-ranked Michigan State. But it still starts with turnovers – sophomore Tommy Rees’ turnovers.
In 10 quarters this season, Rees has thrown five interceptions and has lost two fumbles, yet he is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes – which would stand as a school record if stretched over an entire season.
"What I saw of him in the spring, he’s a very accurate passer," said Meyer, who visited the ND campus last April. "He’s kind of a savvy-type guy, who is not the biggest, not the fastest, not the strongest arm, but he gets the ball out quick. He knows where he’s going with it. He’s accurate, but you can’t have the bumps in the road.
"The description of a quarterback is you manage the game. And part of managing the game is making sure at the end of the play, the blue shirts still have the ball. He has what it takes. He’s still a young quarterback. He just needs to realize that a punt isn’t the worst thing that can happen on a drive."
So how do you coach it out of him?
"There’s a lot of pressure on the quarterback, from the outside world, to take a chance with the ball," Meyer said. "I’m not sure who’s in his ear, but (ND head coach) Brian Kelly knows how to coach quarterbacks and so does (offensive coordinator) Charley Molnar.
"You look at their history, and their quarterbacks don’t turn the ball over with forced throws. Some coaches believe if you get into a shootout, then it’s OK to take a chance, take a shot, but I’ve never believed that."
Meyer is a believer, though, in that a two-quarterback system can work under the right circumstances – if one of those QBs is a changeup quarterback, like Meyer had at Florida during the Gators’ 2006 national title run.
Meyer and Kelly talked extensively about the concept last spring and revisited it this past week, when Meyer was prepping for his broadcast duties. Meyer tag-teamed incumbent Chris Leak with then-freshman Tim Tebow in ’06.
Kelly has hinted at the possibility of using a package of plays for either sophomore Andre Hendrix or freshman Everett Golson, both of whom have running skills far beyond what Rees can give the Irish, but both of whom possess far less command of the totality of the offense.
"I know Brian is high on Hendrix and Golson," Meyer said. "I think he wants to make sure they’re at least not so green that they don’t know their way to class. Once he gets comfortable enough with one of them, it wouldn’t be hard to roll that out.’’
"As long as you have the blocking schemes in, it’s not going to be a problem. The biggest adjustment is for the offensive line. And Brian has the blocking schemes in place. So if he decided to put it in in the middle of the season, they’ll be fine.
"It’s the teams that don’t have those blocking schemes in and they try to add it in the middle of the season, that’s when it looks awful."
Meyer admits he misses putting in his own blocking schemes in instead of analyzing others and fending off all those distractions – well maybe not the latter.