SEC Bloggers: 5 Different Thoughts On Meyer
CFN's SEC Bloggers give you five different perspectives on the exit of a young coaching icon
Gabriel Harris: On Urban
What is the first thing always said about Urban Meyer in regard to his coaching style? His hyper-competitiveness and drive to be the best. Given that as a backdrop, there's no reason to doubt him him when he says he needs a break for his health and his family.
No one leaves twenty million plus dollars in guaranteed money on the table without a legitimate reason. Especially a man at 46 years of age.
I am also convinced we will see him again on the sideline for a major college football program. He will not let 7-5 be college football's last memory of him. Meyer's youngest son is in the sixth grade… If he sees him through high school then it will be six and a half years until graduation, which would be ample time for him to recharge for a comeback.
I look for his next stop to be a Midwestern school near his native Ohio. Notre Dame will be the school that everyone will talk about for obvious and well documented reasons, but I see his alma mater calling. Jim Tressel is 58 years old, and in my above timeline will be 65 upon Nate Meyer's graduation from high school. If Tressel decides to retire any time soon, then mama will call Urban home to The Ohio State University.
Russ Mitchell: On whether this was really a surprise
Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. But anyone truly surprised by the developments of the past 24 hours hasn't been paying attention. With each passing week of the season, Meyer has appeared more and more like a man looking to hire someone to clean his yard, rather than do the work himself.
If there's any knock on Meyer it came here at the end of his coaching career at Florida, with an unwillingness to adapt his strategy – his coaching style – to fit the specific skill sets of those players he had available. In hindsight, perhaps that rigidity was a final sign that this was the end for Urban.
Often when people near the end of anything – certainly any job – they become unwilling to make changes to the tactics/strategies that have worked in the past. Certainly not major changes. And with one foot already out the door, they're simply not into it the way they have been in the past, which many will argue was also the case for Meyer during the 2010 season.
Regardless, it cannot be debated that this was the worst year in Meyer's head coaching career. And at no point from the Spring until yesterday's press conference did it really look like Meyer had his heart completely into "this" – certainly not with the ferocity that he had approached all of his previous seasons has a head ball coach. He had walked away from the sport last December, and nothing in his behavior the past 12 months did anything to make us believe that he had completely embraced the responsibilities.
We wish Meyer well in his retirement, and as advocates for the sport we all love, we hope this is not the end of him on a sideline. He is good for CFB, even if CFB might not be good for him.
Brian Harbach: On his impact
Do you remember? Five years ago when the University of Florida hired Meyer, there was a collective eye roll from the eleven other SEC schools. Fans in near uniformity cried out that the spread offense would never work against the speed of SEC defenses, and that Meyer's unique brand of the spread would be summarily eaten up by SEC defensive coordinators.
Flash forward six completed seasons, with two SEC and BCS Championships to his name, and Meyer has proven the naysayers wrong. The spread offense can work in the SEC, and the conference has had to adjust. Indeed, others are even trying to replicate it. Meyer's impact will be felt for years after he has left, with the likes of Gus Malzahn and Dan Mullen taking over as the SEC offensive gurus.
Remember, in 2005 no SEC team was running a spread offense. The shotgun was used primarily for passing downs. Today, most SEC team run ~50% of their offense from the shotgun, even if they're not running a form of the spread. Fewer teams are huddling, while more coaches understand the value of a dual threat quarterback and limiting substitutions by the defense. In that regard he's influenced all of CFB, as this impact has spread across the nation.
For all the talk about Tim Tebow being Meyer's savior, he did win a national championship with Chris Leak running 90% of the drives in 2006. Tebow came in for a drive or package every now and then.
Meyer was viewed somewhat negatively by administrators throughout the league for his inability to police his players. He was viewed negatively by opposing fans because of his smug behavior and arrogant comments. But his impact on the conference was anything but negative. He was no more hated during his six seasons at Florida than Steve Spurrier was as the Gator head coach in the 1990's, or Nick Saban is now at Alabama. Success begets envy, and envy, hate. People hate winners; or to put it more accurately, people are jealous of winners. And Urban Meyer was a winner at Florida.
He leaves Florida having succeeded in the SEC with an offensive system that no one thought possible prior to his arrival, and his success has started a new trend in the SEC that only seems to be accelerating.
Billy Gomila: On what this means for Florida, today and tomorrow
Today, this primarily means the University of Florida is looking for a new football coach. And that means one of the top jobs in America is open. Florida has money, great facilities and an orchard of top-shelf talent ripe for the picking. Jeremy Foley shouldn't have any problem finding a replacement, so long as he is smart about how he conducts his search.
Tomorrow, it gets a little murkier – if not scarier. Remember, a year ago this team went 13-1 and the season was considered a failure. Not only are there high expectations, but in the back of every Florida fan's mind must be the realization that whomever they get, this coaching change isn't likely to be an upgrade.
Meyer's six-year run in Gainesville? 64-15, with a pair of SEC and national titles. Pretty tough to match that, and nearly impossible to exceed. Batter up.
At best, the Gators put the 2010 issues behind them and resume dominating the SEC East. But the margin for error will be small, as will the amount of patience from the administration and boosters. That's not to say doom is in the offing, but uncertainty certainly is. And it's not like this program has had to deal with a lot of uncertainty in the last 20 or so years.
Barrett Sallee: On who comes next for Florida
The obvious choice to replace Urban Meyer is Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen, who served on Meyer's staff at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. While Mullen may be the easy choice, he's not necessarily the best choice, and athletic director Jeremy Foley should look elsewhere before settling on Mullen.
His top choice should be Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. Stoops served as the Florida defensive coordinator under Steve Spurrier from 1996-1998, so he is familiar with the landscape. But there's no way Stoops agrees to go back to Gainesville. With the Big 12 losing two teams, the Sooners' path the the BCS Championship Game will get much easier next season. No reason to leave to "rebuild" Florida when his current team is about to see its path cleared.
The next option should be Boise State head coach Chris Petersen. With so much talent leaving the blue turf this year, Petersen has done all he can do as the head coach of the Broncos. No matter what those pundits driving the Boise Bus want to believe, Boise State has reached its pinnacle, and probably won't be in legitimate national championship contention in the near future.
Petersen only makes $1.6 million in Boise, so Florida should be able to make it worth his while. If I'm Foley, I make Petersen say "no" three times, and if he resists, back up the Brinks truck.
Billy Gomila, Brian Harbach, Gabe Harris, Russ Mitchell, and Barrett Sallee.