Meyer bolts on Gators
December 9, 2010
By Brian Edwards
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This time around, the shock wore off within a minute, at least for this UF alum. This wasn’t Jan. 4 of 2002 – no, not by a long shot.
On that day, Steve Spurrier crushed the hearts of the Florida faithful by announcing his resignation as the head coach of the University of Florida. Now that was a shocker.
This? This is a rerun, a repeat of Urban Meyer’s resignation just 347 days ago. There’s minimal shock factor and there’s no turning back this time.
Six years and one day after accepting the Florida job and talking about being in Gainesville for the next 20 years, Meyer resigned for a second time Wednesday and then faced the media at a 6:00 p.m. Eastern press conference.
His presser was brief and there were no highlights, no zingers to be discussed for years to come. He spoke of family and expressed little emotion.
And with that, once again, Florida AD Jeremy Foley was left to go find ‘a new captain of this battleship we call Gator football.’ Now that is what I call a zinger and that came from Spurrier’s mouth at his farewell presser.
Spurrier wore an orange and blue tie and a Gator lapel on his jacket that day. He dropped names galore, including General Van Fleet, a coach from the 1920s at UF. He was a Gator, from his days as a player when he won the Heisman and then married the Homecoming Queen, to his days as the head coach when he led UF to its first SEC title, and then six more SECs and ‘one national’ over a dynastic 12-year stretch.
He was allowed to leave and do whatever he wanted because he had done enough. He was in his mid-50’s and just had to go scratch that NFL itch, see if his ball plays would work at that level.
Meyer? He’s in his prime, yet claims to be burned out. No doubt, Urban, we’re all looking for a little R & R, especially when the bank account is showing more than $10 million provided to your family by the University of Florida.
While many laud Meyer for his choice of family over football, I’ll choose to go another route. And if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to say so… in 2014, that is.
Why 2014? Because that’s when Meyer will be the head coach at Ohio State (after Jim Tressel retires) or at Notre Dame (if it doesn’t work out with Brian Kelly).
Seriously, two or three years from now when Meyer accepts his next head-coaching job, we aren’t going to be spending a lot of time talking about health concerns and high school volleyball games.
What Meyer has done here is made himself a free agent, a coach that every major program will look to first over the next couple of years.
And I’m calling ‘em on it.
A great man, who passed away a few years ago, said before the 1989 NCAA Basketball Tournament that ‘a Michigan Man’ would coach the Wolverines. Bo Schembechler had determined that Bill Freider wasn’t a Michigan Man anymore and likewise, Urban Meyer isn’t a Gator anymore.
There’s no need for any farewell love-fest over the next three weeks leading up to a meaningless bowl game against JoePa, who isn’t burned out into his 80s. Truth be told, if I was AD, Meyer’s office would already be cleaned out.
So who will be his successor? Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen or Louisville’s Charlie Strong are the solid -- but far from spectacular -- choices that will accept the job whether it’s offered to them today, tomorrow, next week or next month.
But I would think Foley will make Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops say no for a third time before looking to Strong or Mullen. Maybe the timing is right for Stoops now, 12 years after he left Gainesville for Norman?
Maybe Boise State’s Chris Petersen gets a look?
With Foley, who knows? After all, the man hired Ron Zook.
Many think of Foley as the best AD in America. Others, like me, know that when you’ve been zook-ed once, you can always be zook-ed again.
Foley is on the clock and that’s Sketch City for Gator Nation.
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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