CFN ANALYSIS - Urban Meyer's New Contract
Florida head coach Urban Meyer
Florida head coach Urban Meyer
Posted Aug 3, 2009

Florida's Urban Meyer has agreed to a six-year, $24 million deal, but does that mean he'll be in Gainesville for the next several years? Does this mean all talk about Meyer going to the NFL or Notre Dame is over? Pete Fiutak doesn't think so.

Urban Meyers Gets New Contract

Meyer gets a $24 million deal, but what does it mean?

By Pete Fiutak

Florida's president, Bernie Machen, had been talking for a while about wanting to make sure his star coaches, football head man Urban Meyer and basketball's Billy Donovan, were locked up tight and were paid as well as any coach in their respective sports. While he made sure his coaches got their paper, that doesn't necessarily mean either is staying put.

The knee-jerk reaction by most to the new six-year, $24 million dollar deal that Meyer just signed is that he's living in Gainesville until 2015, at the least. While he's now the highest paid head coach in the SEC, the $4 million a year he'll make doesn't bring any more stability, and the salary could be par for the course for the SEC in a few years. The new deal still puts him third behind USC's Pete Carroll and Notre Dame's Charlie Weis (and possibly fourth behind Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, depending on bonuses).

Meyer couldn't be more emphatic about how he has no interest in leaving Florida and about how he has absolutely no desire to go to Notre Dame. At least, he doesn't want to go to South Bend right now. It might not be an option, anyway, considering Weis has a solid team and an easy enough schedule to come up with a big year to keep him around, but that doesn't mean the NFL might not make a push for Meyer at some point if Notre Dame doesn't decide to change coaches.

Ah, yes. Notre Dame.

If you're thinking the new contract ends any and all speculation and discussion about Meyer ever wanting to go to his dream school, Notre Dame, there are a mere 500,000 reasons why you'd be wrong.

The buyout on Meyer's new contract at Florida is just $500,000. In the real world, especially in an economy when the University of Florida is cutting and slashing its budget left and right, chopping off over $40 million this year alone, a half a mildo isn't anything to sneeze at. In the silly world of big-time athletics, especially to a place like Notre Dame, $500,000 to bring in a coach with Meyer's stature and résumé is a pittance.

Notre Dame has an endowment of over $6 billion, ranking in the top 15 of all universities, and is a profitable business as well as an institution of higher learning. If the Irish ever decided to throw whatever money it would take to get Meyer, and the football product became national title-caliber again, that NBC deal that goes through 2015 would quickly increase from the $9 million a year it's currently at. That's not to mention that Notre Dame gets to keep all of its BCS money (it doesn't have to split the pie with members of a conference) and other revenue streams would quickly increase (jersey sales, Irish paraphernalia, etc.). In other words, Meyer would pay for himself several times over.

$500,000?! Notre Dame doesn't get out of bed for $500,000. But that's not the issue, and salary isn't the issue.

Yes, getting $4 million a year is nice no matter what, but it's not like Meyer needed more money to stay at Florida. Of course there's a pride thing involved, but after making well over $17 million in the last five years he doesn't need to secure a fifth generation of the Meyer family for life, the cost of living in Gainesville hasn't gone up by that much, and it's not like he has to worry about losing his job any time soon. It's about Florida acknowledging that Meyer is an elite head coach and giving him his just due respect, it's about Florida doing everything possible to keep its star coach, and it's about ego.

Always remember one thing about coaches above all else: they're not normal. It takes a different breed of cat to have the makeup to be a big-time football coach, and while money plays into the equation at some point, when it comes to someone like Meyer, salary is merely a number for him to measure himself against the other coaching gods.

Coaches are never happy where they're at and they're always looking for the next challenge, the next mountain to climb, and to get the most respect possible. Meyer might be acknowledged as one of the great college coaches in recent history, and will be on the short list of all-timers if he can win a few more national titles, but he's still a college coach. Football coaches all have the itch to become the best of the best and get the respect of their peers, and to do that it requires a move to the NFL. Meyer might be great, but he's not revered like Bill Belichick is. If Gainesville couldn't keep Steve Spurrier from jumping to the pros, it's certainly not going to be able to keep down a 45-year-old Meyer who has already done it all at the collegiate level.

For now, be happy, Gator fans. Your school did everything it could to keep Meyer in place. The recruits will see this and think there's some level of stability, when Meyer says he plans on sticking around it'll have more weight, and it proves that your football program is as big-time as they come. But be warned, just because Meyer is getting a few more dollars his way for now, that doesn't mean he's yours to keep.