Uncertainty about Meyer, Florida program, is just beginning

 

Some unsolicited advice for Florida coach Urban Meyer: Coach, make sure you enjoy Friday night’s Sugar Bowl because as soon as the game is over you, sir, are on the clock.

I know you told everybody that you’re going to get away from the job and battle some of those inner demons that made you decide to resign for about 12 hours last weekend. In your own mind that may be exactly what you intend to do.

But fair or not, and many in the Gator Nation will say it’s not fair, life is about to get even more complicated for you.

Why? Because from this point forward there will be only one story written about football at the University of Florida: What is Urban Meyer is doing or not doing and when will he return or not return?

 What about recruiting? Is he involved or not? How much is he involved? Are opposing schools hammering Florida because of the uncertainty? (Yes). Will Lane Kiffin bring it up when he’s in somebody’s living room? (A most certain yes.)

What about spring practice? Where will Urban be? Will he be in the meetings? Will he be at the beach? Will he be texting recruits while he’s at the beach? What about the spring game? Will even there be a spring game? Will Urban be at the spring game or will he be at the beach texting recruits?

You get the point. Until this issue is resolved one way or another, every story about the Florida football program will be dealing with the status of Urban Meyer. Nobody will care what kind of team the Gators will have in 2010. Nobody will care if John Brantley can take over the reins at quarterback. Nobody will care who the new defensive coordinator is and what he is doing.  The players, assuming they are allowed to be interviewed by the media, will only be asked about the state of the program without Meyer or what Meyer’s involvement is or is not.

After last Sunday’s bizarre press conference in New Orleans, I’m sure Meyer and the people at Florida thought the media interest would subside after Friday’s game. In fact, the opposite will be true. Just like Florida was not prepared for the fallout of the Brandon Spikes eye-gouging incident, they are not going to be ready for what will come when Meyer returns to Gainesville after the Sugar Bowl.

It’s already started. At last Sunday’s presser Meyer said he checked himself into a Gainesville hospital for chest pains after the SEC championship game on Dec. 5. Thanks to some good reporting by ESPN, we now know that is not true. Meyer’s wife, Shelley, called 911 at 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 6. The head football coach at Florida was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

Does the man not know that 911 calls are a matter of public record? Did he think that nobody would check it out to see if he was telling the entire truth? Does he not feel obligated to tell the truth in that kind of setting?

When you hold a press conference like the one Meyer had in New Orleans, it is your best opportunity to get the entire truth out. It is your chance to get ahead of the story and control the message so that others don’t do it for you. Because if others shape the message you’re not going to like it.

But if you start leaving out details because they are uncomfortable, then the media starts digging deeper to see what else you’ve left out or potentially misled them about. And once the media catches you in a lie or a half-truth, you’re toast. The story takes on new life and will last for as long as there are new facts to find.

Earlier this season Florida and Meyer mishandled the Brandon Spikes incident and turned what should have been a one-day story into a five-day story. Spikes was caught on video intentionally sticking his hand into the facemask of a Georgia player. Meyer suspended Spikes for only one half and the national media backlash was swift and severe. Spikes then “volunteered” to extend his suspension to a full game. That story got out of control because nobody was willing to tell Urban Meyer that he was wrong and that Florida was going to get killed in the media. Meyer’s credibility took a hit that week whether he cares to acknowledge it or not.

Coach Meyer and the people who advise him would be smart to get out in front of this story when he gets back from New Orleans. If there are more details like the 911 call that leak out about his resignation/change of heart in the coming weeks, it will further undermine his credibility.

Here is the bottom line. The national media I know who have covered this story are sympathetic to Urban Meyer’s situation. The man has health issues and three children and a wife. You accept a man’s word when he’s talking about his family. But the flip flop and subsequent press conference in New Orleans, which raised more questions than it provided answers, left a lot of people skeptical that they aren’t getting the whole truth. In short, there are a lot of people who ain’t buying this story.

Trust me when I tell you that the story on the uncertain future of Florida football and Urban Meyer doesn’t end with Friday night’s Sugar Bowl. It is just beginning.

 

 Please follow me on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/MrCFB

370 comments Add your comment

vince

December 31st, 2009
9:23 am

Did anyone else find the 911 call odd? My wife stated that Meyer’s wife sounded more perturbed than worried.

Georgia Jaybird

December 31st, 2009
9:24 am

Meyer’s best Christmas gift? Thank God for Mike Leach and Texas Tech!

lanier

December 31st, 2009
9:26 am

he has got to make a concrete statement before Jan is over or recruiting is toast like you infer. I think he will stay. there are meds for any ailment now so i bet he stays

Dawg in Grovetown

December 31st, 2009
9:27 am

He’ll be back to coach the 2010 season. His team won’t be as good as the 08 or 09 teams though.

Tony " I am the next Furman Bisher" Barnhart...

December 31st, 2009
9:27 am

…still writing and getting paid to write stuff that others have been writing and saying on TV for the past 3 days – real genius, that “Mr. College Football” – though, as Howard Cosell once wrote – “He never played the game”!

J. Craig

December 31st, 2009
9:28 am

Are you still mad Meyer cut short your Christmas holiday? It’s probably a good thing you had less time around the dinner table.

Tony Martin

December 31st, 2009
9:28 am

Well said and to the point MrCFB

Dawg Tired

December 31st, 2009
9:28 am

Tony – This whole thing is just so bizarre. Why did CUM actually lie about why he went the hospital in the first place? Then he resigns because of his health concerns and a day later he “un-resigns.” At first, I was very sympathetic to the situation, but as it has spiraled downward with the deceptions and downright lies, it makes you wonder whether Florida ought to take control of this situation and get a football coach they can depend on and one who might just tell the truth. The whole thing is downright embarrassing to the university.

DP

December 31st, 2009
9:31 am

I heard part of the 911 tape on ESPN last night and Meyer’s wife sounded very calm. She repeated “anxiety” 3 or 4 times to the 911 operator. She’s a psychiatric nurse so I’m sure she’s seen it before with her husband and with patients. If you do a search of anxiety attacks or panic attacks the symptoms can mimic a heart attack and people that have anxiety attacks tend to think they’re having a heart attack each time. If this has been going on with Meyer for 4 years and he hasn’t had a bypass or been diagnosed with a heart problem I’d think the odds are that he has an anxiety problem, not a heart problem. I hope that’s the case.

I’m not a Florida fan but I wish the media would back off Meyer and let him try to get things straightened out. But that will never happen.

30-24 Dawgs - WE RUN THIS STATE

December 31st, 2009
9:31 am

Agree Tony, CUM needs to come clean about his intentions and where that leaves the Gators program.

The other SEC coaches will reap the benefits of his indecisiveness. The saddest statement I heard out of all this mess was that Urban has not had one meaningful conversation over 2 minutes with his younger daughter in the last 2 years. Hmmmm, I wonder how many meaningful conversations CUM shared with Timmy Tearbow during these same 2 years?

Answer = CUM puts Football > Family

Steve

December 31st, 2009
9:36 am

Tony, I can’t imagine how CFB has survived all these years without you at the helm. Please give it a rest or start writing the Dear Abby column. With so much happening on the field this week, you would think someone could report on that.

KJ

December 31st, 2009
9:42 am

“Until this issue is resolved one way or another, every story about the Florida football program will be dealing with the status of Urban Meyer”

And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Darius

December 31st, 2009
9:43 am

You are full of it, Tony. Meyers did not mishandle the Spikes issue. The 1/2 game suspension was the exact penalty that the SEC would have passed down if Spikes had been flagged for the play and ejected from the game. The only thing that made it a 5-day story were useless media types such as yourself who ignored the vast majority of former players who laughed it off and said it happens all the time. Quit being a fool, Tony.

Gator Mike

December 31st, 2009
9:43 am

Tony, You make some very good points, and I agree with you. Spin never works (except for the current administration in the White House).
It would also be appropriate if you and all of your colleagues in sports writing and broadcasting arenas stick to the facts without unsupported innuendos. The numerous Gator Haters will continue to spew their juvenile wrath, but the classy DAWG, Vol, BAMA,Seminole, etc. fans who energetically support their teams will continue to have the respect of the “sane” Gator Fans. (Yes, we also have some idiotic fans who go way over the top which I also despise.)
Happy New Year to you and the entire AJC Team. Also, Happy New Year to ALL College Football Fans regardles of your school.
Go Gators!

D&D fan

December 31st, 2009
9:44 am

I wonder if Mark Bradley still thinks Urban is being truthful and this story is cut and dry, lol! Hey Bradley; told you so, jock sniffer …

JB

December 31st, 2009
9:45 am

I’m worried not so much about WHO will coach the Georgia D next year, I’m worried WHO will play…..We look awful thin. I know that 14 of our commits are on the defensive side of the ball. Yikes.

Publicity Stunt?

December 31st, 2009
9:47 am

The real story – Meyer was contacted about the ND job. He turned it down. Kelly then accepted the job. Meyer then was so distraught about the situation ie “I should have taken the job.” that he pulled this mid life crisis publicity stunt. Meyer is a egomaniac joke.

ParrisIsland Dawg

December 31st, 2009
9:48 am

FLA should look at the D Coordinator hire as it’s coach in waiting because that’s the only way they will get a quality DC to come in and work for this flake.

Gen Neyland

December 31st, 2009
9:50 am

The (half) Truth

December 31st, 2009
9:51 am

What’s with all the recruits on the Under Armour deal talking about how I called them and told them “not to panic” and “I love you like a son” etc. That must have been Lane posing as me because we all know there is a “dead period” in recruting and I can’t be contacting those guys. I would never do anything wrong or underhanded…my gosh I’m Urban Meyer. Anyway ESPN always has my back.

Exley DAWG

December 31st, 2009
9:52 am

Sounds kinda like Tiger doesn’t it? Maybe he’s having an affair with tebow.

WreckIt

December 31st, 2009
9:52 am

If he’s truly suffering from Anxiety. Let’s all do our part to help him get better. Let’s not talk about it, Tony. I know you may be alone in your lack of reporting on him, but you’ve got the credibility to set a tone, even if only a few members of the media forego their right to hard-nosed reporting.

It’s not about football, he’s got 3 kids.

Sure, Georgia fans will give you grief, but as a Georgia Alum you know they’re mostly self-centered losers anyway! (Sorry, couldn’t resist the jab … and here come the well-deserved 30-24 retorts). Seriously, it won’t make you popular, but if you could possibly help another man’s health, shouldn’t you do it?

Meyer = Cremins

December 31st, 2009
9:54 am

This type of flip flopping is never good – no matter who you are or where you coach. If Meyer stays he will never come close to the success he has just earned. Granted, a Gator fall off is inevitable – you don’t lose that amount of talent expect to continue at that high level. See: 2009 USC, UGA, OK, Mizzou (save the “we don’t rebuild – we just reload” comments for someone else) Bobby Cremins – a coach, like Meyer, who relied on premiere players – was never the same after his South Carolina Flip Flop. He made it to the NCAA Tournament only once after that and spent more time at home in March than even in the NIT. Another one -Glen Mason was a rising star football coach – flip flopped on UGA – had a mediocre/poor run at Minnesota – where is he now?

FLIP FLOP is more damaging than the resignation. UF should force his hand – and soon.

Nole Fan

December 31st, 2009
9:57 am

I’m really torn about this whole Urban Meyer thing. On the one hand, I kind of feel sorry for the guy and his family with these apparently serious health issues. But on the other hand, I am enjoying the fact that Gator fans have to be absoultely hating how this is all playing out in the media (resigned and then un-resigned, lied about checking himself in to the hosital) and the resulting hits to their image and more importantly, recruiting…especially after all of the crap we’ve had to listen to from Gator fans about Coach Bowden for I don’t know how many years…pay back time?

h8uat

December 31st, 2009
9:57 am

Good post, DP. Like vince, I was t thinking the 911 call sounded odd, but the fact that his wife is a nurse and familiar with his issues makes sense of it. Urban’s lying and vagueness are only going to encourage the media to dig and dig and dig. He should have just been open and honest and they would probably leave him alone for a while. Yes, there would still be questions about when and if he was coming back and how much involvement he is having while on leave, but not the kind of attention I think he’s going to get now that it looks like he isn’t telling the truth.

how2fish

December 31st, 2009
9:59 am

Tony totally agree he has done more harm than good by not telling the entire truth..what can he have gained by not telling reporters he went to the hosptial in a ambulance ? Most of the thinking fans of college football and the media want him to recover from his health problems and wish him well doing whatever it takes for him to do that. So why the mis-direction..its just confusing and unneeded in this case. He will need to make a forceful statement to clear up his intentions and give time tables or UF will take a hit..whatever happens I hope he address his problem and just doesn’t decide that he has to power thru this.

TampaGator

December 31st, 2009
10:00 am

Tony, I did not know you worked for the Georgia Sports Information Department. Nice PR story for them. Keep up the good work homer!!!!! Aren’t you the same person that, on national TV, emphatically stated that Urban Meyer would be the next coach of the Irish? Yep. How did that prediction work for you? Probably about the same as this one will. The Florida program is much bigger than any single man. It is run by one of the finest Presidents in the country and one of the finest ADs in the country. The Florida program will be just fine, thank you, and Urban is already telling recruits he will be back just before the season starts. Bet to you: I bet Florida will have a top 5 recruiting class. If it does, you resign from you PR job for Georgia. If they don’t, I stop posting intelligent responses to your stupid stories. Deal?

Joseph

December 31st, 2009
10:00 am

Tony, don’t be such a hater.

Mark

December 31st, 2009
10:02 am

Urban Meyer doesn’t owe anyone an explanation accept to his family and his employer. In a time of great stress and uncertainty about the really important things in his life he mad a bad decision for all the right reasons. He rectified it. Who has not done that. Why is he scorned. I challenge any of us who face a serious illness and then put it out for public ridicule and see how you do.

I love college football. The fans and sprots media sicken me.

F-105 Thunderchief

December 31st, 2009
10:06 am

He should release a timetable. After the bowl, Adazio takes over for recruiting season and spring practice/game, while Meyer works with doctors and takes R&R. After spring practice, he starts easing back into the head coach role, without all nighters and the perspective that losing is not a capital offense. All this assumes, however, his health is not worse than he’s let on.

Has he named a replacement for Strong yet?

collegeballfan

December 31st, 2009
10:06 am

Is Chavis leaving LSU to be the DC at Florida? Five year contract with big raise?

how2fish

December 31st, 2009
10:06 am

Mark how did he rectify it? No one still knows when he will return, how much he will recuirt etc. I don’t know anyone who is scorning him just a ton of folks confused by this whole deal.

Huh?!

December 31st, 2009
10:08 am

Jeesh, Tony, have you ever heard of HIPAA laws? I don’t know why anyone thinks that someone else’s medical problems are their business. Butt out. We love the sport, but sometimes there are bigger problems than a game.

123456789

December 31st, 2009
10:08 am

Too bad UGA Super-Homer Barnhart hasn’t even bothered to report on the FACTS of the Decory Bryant case.

The fact that the Clarke County Superior Court dismissed the case on COMPLETELY BOGUS legal grounds…GUARANTEES…that the case is headed to the Federal Court of Appeals.

And once there, UGA is going to lose……BIG.

http://www.athlonsports.com/college-football/7374/losing-it-all

Denver Dog

December 31st, 2009
10:09 am

I think he missed the publicity of the the Big Game, and he probabally is a little ill. Whatever comes out of this, I hope he is OK, and that he either gets in or gets out. After watching his interview, it appears that he is in a confused state.

TampaGator

December 31st, 2009
10:11 am

Also, Tony, Meyer has to take some time to figure out how he can continue to be a great coach at Florida without destroying his health and his family. He has difficulty failing at anyting…even one loss almost destroys him. He can’t live that way. No one can. But I can tell you this, his players love him and the recruits love him. They just want the man around to lead them. The GatorNation wants him around to lead the Gators. He just needs to learn how to do that without killing himself. I hope his time off will help him figure out how to do that. Continuing to work 24/7 will not work. Delegating more to his outstanding coaches will. I think and hope he can figure it out. If not, Florida will do just fine under Addazio’s leadership next year and either he will stay on or Foley will hire another head coach. Either way, the program will be just fine, thank you. Also…Georgia fans…continue with you conspiricy theories, etc. It is obvious from the press conference that Meyer and his family do not want to public to know all about Meyer’s struggles, and they want to mininmize the concern of the GatorNation. But you guys would never be able to understant that…so continue with you Meyer attacks, etc. See how that works for you next November…as usual.

Spike

December 31st, 2009
10:12 am

This is just wierd. UF “officcials” just out and out lied with this bogus dehydration story. I just heard the 911 call fron his wife on ESPN. He wasn’t dehydrated. Why lie about it? And I guess after this “spirited” practice the Gators had his family and health were not as important as they were? Stay on their case about it Tony. They lied and got caught. He did not check himself in either.

Urban

December 31st, 2009
10:15 am

I’m alright. It was just a bad case of gas.

Meyer Still Going 100 Percent | MrSEC.com

December 31st, 2009
10:15 am

[...] The AJC points out that every other element of the Gator program will now be placed in the backseat behind the Meyer “will he or won’t he” saga.Also, Mr. Barnhart makes an excellent observation regarding Meyer’s definition-of-vague press [...]

Skinny

December 31st, 2009
10:16 am

Put yourself in his shoes,, what would you do? Smart move on Coach Meyer to not bring his wife into the media by saying “she called 911″. Would you want your wife/family to be the target of the media??
His Family and his health should be priority #1. Hate to see him go

TampaGator

December 31st, 2009
10:16 am

Lots of typos in the last post…sorry, but there is no conspiracy, Georgia fans.

Huh?!

December 31st, 2009
10:18 am

Who checks themselves in for dehydration? You all will buy anything…too bad I don’t have some swampland for sale.

Mark at 10:02 said it best: “Urban Meyer doesn’t owe anyone an explanation [except] to his family and his employer.”

Urban Liar

December 31st, 2009
10:20 am

Tony-

Right on with your article, you went a little easy on Meyer. Here are some specific lies Urban Liar has told over the years, sources to the media he said it in and the date, it’s amazing:

http://www.utefans.net/lies.php

Tide Rising

December 31st, 2009
10:20 am

Tony,

I think you are being way harsh on Meyer when you start saying he was lying. In his mind he checked himself into the hospital and it probably doesn’t matter to him whether it meant by calling an ambulance or by driving there himself there. In either case he did check himself into a hospitalization. You’re just splitting hairs by the fact that in checking himself in he rode in an ambulance and using that minor difference in the story to say “gotcha” you lied! That just aint right.

As for the future there is no doubt other coaches will use this in recruiting against Meyer by telling recruits that he could up and retire at any time again if these problems persist. But Florida is still chock full of talent and of kids who want to play for the state’s flagship institution. They will continue to reel in top notch talent even if this continuing health concern and possible retirement costs them one or 2 top notch recruits a year.

Last, DP had an excellent comment on the situation. Could just be panic attacks. I know several people likewise who thought they were having a heart attack when in fact it was just a panic attack. Big difference.

FLNavigator

December 31st, 2009
10:21 am

Amen, Georgia Jaybird @ 9:24, amen.

DawginLex

December 31st, 2009
10:23 am

Meyer and florida didn’t owe anyone an explanation about the visit to the hospital.

Meyer deserves the time to decide what to do. How would some of you like it if you were in his shoes, wanting to get out and recruit and keep coaching, doing the job you love but you hurt so bad in your chest that you can’t?

Some of you need to think before you type.

That Guy!

December 31st, 2009
10:23 am

TampaGator- “Florida will do just fine under Addazio’s leadership next year and either he will stay on or Foley will hire another head coach. Either way, the program will be just fine, thank you.”……Agreed just like when you guys had Ron Zook?

how2fish

December 31st, 2009
10:24 am

123456789
back again Bug…that is a tough deal for Bryant..but it will take a court to decide who if anyone is at fault..not a blog.

why does it matter

December 31st, 2009
10:25 am

who cares if anyone lied about how or why he checked in to the hospital. NO ONE here has any right to know that information and it’s assinine for people to suggest any of us should be privy to his medical information.

TampaGator

December 31st, 2009
10:25 am

Nice, intelligent, post Tide Rising. Well said. I to, believe, that Meyer just pushed himself too hard and the stress of this season caused increased stress and…the panic attacks. As I said, he just needs to learn how to manage his life and the team better.