Nate Meikle was a productive slot receiver target for John Beck at BYU before working as a sideline radio sportscaster doing Cougar games. Now, he’s an academic type, a brainiac, a professor at the University of Kansas.
He just moved to Lawrence, Kansas, this past week from South Bend, Indiana, where he worked and studied at Notre Dame. At Kansas, Dr. Meikle will teach classes on ethics and leadership. He’s only got half a dozen years to reach tenure. That’s when professors can comfortably settle in, wear those sweaters with elbow patches, hang out at the faculty lounge, and light fires under a new generation.
Meikle has always loved seeing offenses develop — he was plugged in as a player with Beck and his insight as a media guy was valuable. Meikle sees plenty of positives with Aaron Roderick taking over for Jeff Grimes as BYU’s new offensive coordinator.
“I’m really excited to see what Aaron Roderick can do with the BYU offense,” said Meikle.
“A-Rod and I go way back to 2002 at Snow College where he was my running back coach …and one of my favorite coaches of all time. He’s the epitome of a players’ coach in the same way that Sitake is. … They both really care about their guys.
“I also loved A-Rod because you knew that he knew exactly what he was doing. As an example, in one of my first games at Snow, he pulled me and Paul Peterson (our QB) aside and drew up a play in the dirt. A-Rod had noticed that the weak side linebacker was blitzing recklessly and both safeties were ignoring the weak side. He told me that on our next pass play, I would run at the weak side linebacker like I was going to block him, but then slip past him and wheel up the sideline. He told Paul to look the safeties off to the strong side, and then throw back to me running down the weak sideline. The play worked to perfection, and Paul hit me for a 60 yard touchdown pass.”
Meikle says the college game has evolved over the past decade.
“It’s true that Utah’s offense didn’t put up huge numbers when Roderick was co-OC there, but being an OC under (Kyle) Whittingham will always be tough because he’s such a defensive-minded coach. And truthfully, the college game has changed a lot in the last seven to 10 years. The old cliché that ‘defense wins championships’ is no longer true in college football. The winner of the national championship game has scored an average of 41 points in the last seven championship games.
“And given that great offense is what put BYU football on the map, I think Roderick has the ability, the vision and the buy-in from his players to keep building on what the BYU offense was able to do both last year and in years past.”
Meikle’s journey into the life of walled bookshelves, lectures and whiteboards had stops at Stanford (law degree) and Utah (Ph.D.) before South Bend in Big Ten territory, and Lawrence, Kansas, in the heartland of the Big 12.
Notre Dame recently sent out a press release reveling in a study done by Meikle and others when he was there as a post-doctoral research associate at the Mendoza College of Business.
Meikle’s podcast “Meikles and Dimes” is growing in popularity. It is his succinct commentary on things he wished kids were taught in school. He started it when he began reading to his own kids, uncovering topics and avenues he thought worthwhile. It’s become so noteworthy that other professors assigned students to listen to one of his podcasts on sports and presidential elections and take notes.
“For the last decade, I’ve been writing down the most important lessons I want to teach my children,” he said. “Then I started recording the lessons.”
Eventually, these lessons evolved into the podcast “Meikles and Dimes.” Each lesson/episode is five to 10 minutes, dedicated to “the simple, the practical and the underappreciated.”
You can find his podcast on your favorite podcasting app, including Apple Podcasts.
Meikle’s podcast even has themes from his playing days at BYU. I liked one titled “Good Decisions and Bad Luck” about Seattle star running back Marshawn Lynch. The Cougars, with Meikle, faced Lynch when he played at Cal. Mentioning this tie-in, Meikle hits the main storyline, an in-depth look at Super Bowl XLIX and a controversial decision by Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at the goal line to not give the ball to Lynch against the New England defense.
Meikle talks about Carroll’s thought process and how he remains judged all the time by experts and fans through what is labeled “outcome bias” regardless of the actual facts behind important decisions and, on that day, Carroll’s strategy.
His podcasts are expertly produced and delivered flawlessly with a pleasant orator’s voice, organized with a principle and teaching moment. In fact, the short podcasts are packed with very enlightening and entertaining topics that parents, kids, students and professionals could use.
You listen to Miekle’s work on these podcasts and you can see why he is teaching at Kansas in a very important role.
In the episode “Why Does Myelin Matter,” Meikle describes some of the latest science on how athletes, musicians, artists and ultimately everyone can improve their skills. He draws on his experience at BYU, when he switched from running back to wide receiver.
The episode “Can NFL Games Predict Presidential Elections,” explores the “Redskins Rule” (from 1936 to 2000, the outcome of the U.S. presidential election was perfectly correlated with the Redskins’ — now the Washington Football Team — final home game each year) and describes how unexpectedly important this finding is.
This is the one other professors told students to listen to. It taught the importance of disentangling causation from correlation.
If you don’t, listen to it.
“Obviously, football is not my focus. I’m trying to share what I think are the most important lessons I’ve learned that I hope to pass on to my children. For example, other episode topics include the value of journaling, the importance of selecting the right friends, how to be more grateful and the value of education.”
It is remarkable to see how Meikle has transformed himself from a football player — always a smart one — to an effective, impactful communicator and professor at a prestigious school.
He’s had a lot of encouragement along the way, including getting very close to organizational behavioral scientist and renown presenter Paul Gustavson, a former BYU offensive lineman who co-authored with Alyson Von Feldt a book in 2012 about Bronco Mendenhall’s strategies at BYU titled, “Running Into the Wind.”
“Paul is one of the main reasons I got my Ph.D. in organizational behavior,” said Meikle.
If Meikle’s goal in life is to make a difference in future leaders of business and industry, he’s off to a great start as he moves into his new home in Lawrence. Monday, he just got his internet connection.
Good luck, Dr. Meikle. Love the podcast. I’m learning tons from tuning in and investing just about 10 minutes. Well worth the effort and time.