Saturday, December 26, 2009

Florida's Urban Meyer Removing Himself As Head Coach

Urban Meyer is leaving Florida. Couple topics to cover:

(1) Here's to his health, if nothing else.
(2) Can he have a key role in the program?
(3) Who is the next Florida head coach?
(4) This is really really really shocking.

(1) This is unprecedented, certainly in college football -- the nation's best coach, walking away from a dynastic program and a huge contract. Not for another job. But for no job.

I'll take it at face value that it's a "non-life-threatening heart muscle defect" (probably combined with things like the cyst in his brain and his overall stress levels) -- and more power to Meyer for making this decision.

None of us can imagine how difficult it must have been -- how he was feeling to cause him to make the decision...or the tough process to have actually made the decision.

His focus is on his family -- his priority is his family. How can you not respect him making his decisions -- his biggest decisions -- with that as the guiding principle?

I wish Meyer nothing but a long healthy life in good health. I respect him now more than ever.

(2) I really do hope that he stays with Florida in some capacity. (I know they can't name him head of "football operations," like Parcells in Miami -- or could they? -- but maybe something like Schembechler had in Michigan when Carr was coach, where Bo was more than an empty figurehead but not head coach. I don't know enough about that set-up to say.)

That doesn't mean that the Florida football program is... well, I don't even have the word for it.

(3) The main thing is for AD Jeremy Foley to get a new coach in place as quickly as possible. I don't think having that done by the end of the weekend (yes, tomorrow) is unrealistic. It's the best college football coaching job in America, with a cupboard as stocked as any program anywhere. Oh, and recruits are going to be freaked -- very freaked.

(That's why I think that if Foley makes his first call to Bob Stoops, Stoops HAS to say yes. Florida is a better job than Oklahoma. UPDATE: I'm not saying Stoops is my favorite choice, or even the right choice. There's a big contingent of Florida football intelligentsia who don't want Stoops.)

But what if Foley doesn't want Stoops? Or if Stoops says no? Who's next on the list?

*Charlie Strong, the longtime coordinator with no head-coaching experience?

*Kyle Whittingham, who stepped in to replace Urban Meyer at Utah.

*Meyer's protege Dan Mullen, with a solid rookie year under him at Mississippi State?

(NOT Mike Shanahan: No experience coaching college football -- certainly not the current uber-competitive version, which is a 12 months a year, 24/7 job, not some "cushy" NFL gig.)

I guess it depends, in part, on how much influence Meyer has on the choice. (It sounds like he will be part of the search committee -- which is actually kind of comforting.) The way things unfold over the next 24-48 hours will be fascinating and, for Florida fans, kind of insane.

(4) Needless to say, this is the most shocking news involving a coach in the history of college football. This isn't Knute Rockne tragically dying in a plane crash; this is the best coach in the game (the AP college football coach of the decade) having to walk away -- with 20 years left in his career.

-- D.S.

Meyer's Statement:

"I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program. I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family. After consulting with my family, [university president] Dr. [Bernie] Machen, Jeremy Foley and my doctors, I believe it is in my best interest to step aside and focus on my health and family.

"I’m proud to be a part of the Gainesville community and the Gator Nation and I plan to remain in Gainesville and involved with the University of Florida. I’m very appreciative for the opportunity I’ve had to be a part of a tremendous institution – from Dr. Machen to Jeremy Foley and the entire administrative staff at UF. I’m also very thankful for the chance to work with some of the best assistants in college football and coach some of the best college football players and watch them grow both on and off the field as people. I will cherish the relationships with them the most."


Qwagmire said...

That was a very well written considering you must be freaking out

bob jones said...

I am sorry dude, but now, you are going all soft because it is your Florida boy. If it were say Saban, you would be all over it saying what is going on. You are one of the biggest homer ( and not even from your own alumni affiliation!)
I have ever seen

Michael W said...

The 2000s may be marked as a steroid era for sports, but I think it should also be noted for being a decade in which we finally, finally started paying attention to off-the-field medical issues and long-term problems. Concussions are finally getting some long-needed attention, and I hope Meyer's resignation puts the spotlight on what coaches go through, too.