It’s a tough business. I get that. And over the course of six seasons a head football coach in the SEC can rub a lot of people the wrong way, especially the people he beats.
But if you’re a Bulldog or a Volunteer for a Gamecock or a member of the Crimson Tide Nation, you really shouldn’t be celebrating today over the news that Urban Meyer is leaving as the head coach at Florida.
I’ve had my own issues Meyer.
He was flat wrong when he suspended linebacker Brandon Spikes for only one-half game after Spikes clearly tried to hurt Georgia’s Washaun Ealey (sticking his fingers in the facemask). Only after the public outcry did Spikes “suddenly” decide that his suspension should be for one game.
He was wrong when he dressed down a reporter in practice in front of cell phone cameras. If he had an issue with the reporter, then there is a right way–a professional way–to address the concern. He chose the wrong way. I don’t know if Meyer was trying to put on a show for his players but it was unprofessional behavior. You don’t use people as props because you want to win football games.
He was flat wrong when he allowed Chris Rainey to return to the team and I said so. There are certain lines in life that you do not cross and threats against women is one of those lines. The rationalizations about who Rainey was and his background, etc., may have all been true. But all that pales in comparison to a text message that said “Time to die, ——-.”
The more success Meyer and the Florida program had, the more withdrawn and insular it became. They became like rock stars who once basked in the attention that brought them fame and fortune but ultimately found it suffocating and just tried to block it all out.
But instead of managing the media and managing the very high expectations, which successful people do every day, Meyer chose to throw up walls and pull in the ranks and adopt this silly “us agains the world” mentality. Coaches do that because it’s easy and the players will easily buy into it. It’s much easier for a coach to tell a player “they are all out to get us” instead of “dealing with the media–good and bad–is part of growing up. If you want to play at the next level you need to learn how to deal with these people and be smart about it. We will teach you how to do that.” But that takes work and, in some coaches’ narrow view of the world, it has nothing to do with winning and losing and so it should simply be eliminated as a factor. It is short sighted but if you win enough games, being short sighted eventually becomes a virtue.
Having said all that, Meyer is/was a helluva coach and the record certainly proves that. He won two national championships in three seasons (2006, 2008) and was certainly good enough in 2009 to win a third but for Alabama. For five years at Florida his star burned as brightly as any I’ve ever seen. But on Wednesday he announced, in so many words, that he was burned out.
I know you love your school but most of you I hear from also love your conference and college football as a whole. And so there is no reason to celebrate when the sport burns out a talented coach. You would rather he stay so that when you finally beat him it is all the more sweet.
Florida will find another talented coach. Frankly, I’m going to be surprised if its not Dan Mullen. Whoever it is will be very successful. Steve Spurrier forever changed Florida’s football program in his 12 years (1990-2001) at the school. Before Spurrier arrived Florida had never won 10 games in a season and had never won an SEC championship. Spurrier raised the bar and so Florida will never go back for more than a year or two.
And for Urban Meyer? I predict that he will be out of coaching for only one year and will surface again. This year he got caught in the perfect storm of talent losses and coaching losses and the inability to summon up the fire in the belly that had burned white hot for five seasons. We were all guilty of thinking that Florida could just reload after four years of Tim Tebow. The Florida program took a dip as all programs do (see Texas). The Gators will be back sooner rather than later but Urban Meyer will no longer be their coach.
If you love the game, there is no reason to celebrate that.
And one last thing: If Urban Meyer goes to the Denver Broncos in the next two months, I take it all back.
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