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CFN Analysis - Urban Meyer To Step Down
Florida head coach Urban Meyer
Florida head coach Urban Meyer
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 8, 2010


University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer is stepping down ... again. Wanting more time away from coaching and wanting to be with his family, the Gator legend is leaving for the second time in 12 months. Are there health issues? Is he burnt out? Or is it just a coincidence that the Denver job is open? The CFN writers give their thoughts on Meyer's resignation.

CFN Analysis   

Urban Meyer Resigns Again


Urban Meyer, in a statement through the University of Florida: “I have been a Division I football coach for the last 25 years and, during that time, my primary focus has been helping my teams win titles,” Meyer said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and I am a fierce competitor to my core. At this time in my life, however, I appreciate the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field. The decision to step down was a difficult one.

“But after spending more than two decades motivating and celebrating the young men I’ve been so proud to coach, I relish the opportunity to cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports. I know how fortunate I am to be in a position to make this choice and to have a family that is as loving and supportive as my amazing wife and children have always been.”

By Pete Fiutak

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Urban Meyer. You’re not allowed to quit on your team. Not this team. Not after the Harold Hill you pulled on a bunch of wide-eyed batch of suckers, er, recruits. If Joe Paterno can come back for another year, then Urban, so can you. It would've been the honorable thing.

If he’s leaving the program for legitimate health reasons, that’s one thing. Obviously coaching at the University of Florida isn’t worth dying over. But if he takes another coaching job of any sort in the next several months, or if his leaving has anything to do with any of the rumors floating around about how and why the Cam Newton story got leaked, he’ll officially take a seat at the head of the class as the biggest dirtbag in the recent history of college football coaching bags of dirt.

And God help him if he’s going to the Dallas Cowboys in Jerry Jones’s attempt to find another Jimmy Johnson, or to the Denver Broncos in an attempt to throw good money after bad after the Tim Tebow first round draft blunder of last year.

It’s not quite fair or quite right to completely and totally blast a college football head coach for leaving for a bigger and better opportunity. There’s no easy and no good way to ever leave a major college job without ruffling any feathers, but this is different. Meyer isn’t allowed to take another job right now.

He’s also not allowed to leave to spend more time with his family. Not when he brought in what was called one of the greatest recruiting classes in decades after he decided to return after that mythical one great practice before the Sugar Bowl. Not when one of the star recruits of last year’s class, running back Mack Brown, among others, said at the time that he stuck with his commitment to Florida because Meyer said he was coming back and that he'd be the head coach for the future. Not when he dared to call the University of Florida a family, over, and over, and over.

One of Meyer’s main selling points to recruits was that they were coming into a new family, and to his credit, and possibly to his downfall, it’s well documented how he really did fret and worry about all the players he brought in. Of course, being a member of the Florida Gator football family required being an elite athlete, and Meyer wasn’t exactly being Father Flanagan, but if he knew it was “time to put my focus on my family,” then he also must admit that his entire Florida sales pitch was a complete bunch of hooey. Again, unless there are real health issues involved, you don't do this to your family.

But now it really is over. There’s no coming back from this, at least to the University of Florida. The SEC rivals weren’t able to negative sell against Meyer’s health issues the first time around, but now he’s a two-time quitter and he won’t be able to effectively recruit ever again without a new batch of gullible young kinds buying the same line of bullspit. The other SEC recruiters would destroy Meyer if he ever dared enter a five-star recruit's living room while wearing a Gator tie.

Even with everything that happened over the last year, and even with the bluster and the bullying and the boorish behavior, his short run puts him among the college football coaching legends. Winning a national title is one thing, Gene Chizik is about to do that, but along with his 57-10 record in Gainesville, he’s got two and he would’ve had more in the very near future if he had stuck around. He turned Utah into a powerhouse, while busting through the BCS ceiling for the mid-majors. And now it all ends like this and now he can't just change his mind. The first time was acceptable, even if it wasn't believable, but he can't come back now and Florida shouldn't let him if he tries.

And now the spotlight should be on the NCAA. If you really are in place to help the student-athletes, as you claimed with the Cam Newton ruling, then you should allow any player from the 2010 recruiting class to transfer, free of penalty.

By Matt Zemek

So, 49 weeks after the first announcement that Urban Meyer would not coach the Florida Gators, the second announcement arrived right when nobody was expecting it. It appears that Meyer is at peace with the decision this time, and yes, it would be quite extraordinary if a man revoked the same momentous decision two Decembers in a row. Nevertheless, some aspects of this story are still puzzling.

Health reasons – the explicitly-mentioned basis for the first retirement – weren’t cited this time around. If Meyer’s health really had improved, why step down? This isn’t so much a question of “great coaches (or athletes) stepping away while they’re on top of their game,” a familiar theme applied to high-profile but ill-timed retirements of highly successful sports figures. This next question gets at the heart of the matter: Why twist oneself into a verbal pretzel – a word salad of vocalized contradictions last December 26 and 27 before the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati – only to then leave the coaching business that claimed Urban Meyer’s energies so completely and unceasingly? Meyer showed that he couldn’t quit coaching at the end of 2009. If his health was better at the end of 2010, why undo all the promises and assurances he made to recruits over the past 12 months? It’s perfectly within Meyer’s rights to do what he did. There’s no moral or ethical inadequacy attached to this decision. It’s merely very bizarre. One would think that Meyer would have given the post-Tim Tebow era two years at the very least, so that Meyer could know that he carried the Florida program past the transitional year that 2010 in fact was.

It’s all so very strange indeed. Not wrong, just strange.

Now, as Florida looks for a replacement, a few other points are worth keeping in mind:

1) This should represent the death-knell for offensive coordinator Steve Addazio. That’s why this move – while perhaps weakening Florida on the recruiting trail this cycle – will be a net-plus in the long run for the Gators. Period.

2) The first call should go to Dan Mullen, unless there’s something surrounding Mississippi State’s connection with Cameron Newton. Yes, it looks increasingly clear that Mullen’s hands are clean in that matter, but Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley needs to do his due diligence and make sure that Mullen won’t bring any baggage to The Swamp. If the vetting process goes smoothly, Mullen should be Florida’s first choice. Bob Stoops is a high-quality coach, but he’s become so ensconced at Oklahoma that a return to the SEC more than a decade after leaving his post as Florida’s defensive coordinator raises the prospect of a less-than-fully-successful return. Stoops has never been the head man at Florida, but the notion of a return to Gainesville seems as stale and outdated as the notion of a Steve Spurrier return to Alachua County. Mullen’s the man Foley should pursue; the body of work Mullen produced with both Chris Leak and Tebow – presented in sharp contrast to what Addazio did with John Brantley this past season – should leave no questions about the matter. An elite defensive coordinator would sprint to Gainesville in a heartbeat, and Florida – while perhaps at a disadvantage for 2011 – would be ready to rock and roll in 2012.

3) What about Mississippi State if Mullen leaves? Two words: Al Golden, but Golden probably wouldn’t want the job. Two more words, then: Kevin Sumlin.

4) Because Mullen is at the forefront of Florida’s list – maybe not numero uno, but certainly near the top – Michigan’s chances of winning the Gator Bowl increase. Accordingly, Rich Rodriguez’s chances of staying in Ann Arbor increase. Accordingly, Jim Harbaugh’s chances of staying at Stanford one more year increase.

And you thought this Urban Meyer story was relevant only to Florida.