FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer are still close, in case you were wondering.
Belichick hasn't drafted a player coached by Meyer since 2014, when he dipped into the pool of available Florida Gators twice to take first-round defensive lineman Dominique Easley and sixth-round offensive lineman Jon Halapio.
But on Wednesday, one day after Meyer's final game coaching Ohio State -- Meyer is stepping down, citing health reasons -- Belichick praised the Buckeyes boss.
"Go back a long way with Urban," Belichick said. "Talk to him multiple times every season. Have great respect and appreciation for what he's done -- the national championships and the programs that he's built . . .
"Great man. Has had tremendous success. Has been a good friend. Have great admiration for what he's done."
Belichick is of course keenly aware that Meyer's name has been in the news for the better part of the last six months because of how he handled domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach. Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the season after an investigation into the situation.
But Belichick's loyalty to his friend was apparent at his most recent press conference.
There was a time when Belichick seemed to be ushering Meyer-coached players to New England on a semi-annual basis. Nate Ebner, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, Chad Jackson and Jeremy Mincey were all drafted by Belichick in a seven-year span.
Though it's been years since Belichick selected one of Meyer's players in the draft, he has attended the Ohio State pro day, and he spoke at the school's coaching clinic last year. There Belichick discussed, among other things, how having role players like Ebner can help build a successful program.
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