Urban Meyer has resigned as the Florida Gators head coach. Again. His reasons: family and health. Those are always good cover ups.
While this news is surprising, it is not shocking. Meyer probably has concerns about his health and certainly wants to spend more time with his family. However, these reasons alone were not enough to tip the scales. What did? The Gators’ disappointing season. I just don’t think this happens if Florida played in the SEC championship game and was preparing for a BCS bowl this year.
One year ago, the day after Meyer announced his retirement, he went out to practice and saw the state of the program and the potential for the future. That was enough to get him to stay on board and take a brief leave of absence. Now, one year into the future, Meyer has seen enough.
This season was the first year that Meyer faced the toughest challenge for a coach: sustaining success. Meyer learned the hard way that sustained success is more difficult than it looks. Before coming to Florida, Meyer hopped from job to job, never staying long enough to graduate a recruiting class and to compete against foes who had had time to adjust to his spread attack.
After inheriting a well stocked cupboard and using his spread scheme to win the 2006 BCS National Championship, Meyer weathered the storm in 2007 when his recruits started taking the field. While the team only won 9 games, quarterback Tim Tebow won the Heisman. It was clear that with a few defensive adjustments, the Gators would be back on top. Fast forward to 2010. Tebow, Brandon Spikes, and others were gone. Meyer’s revolutionary offense had become mainstream in college football.
John Brantley was supposed to be the answer. By the end of the year, Florida was using a three quarterback system. Florida lost miserably to Florida State (Meyer’s first loss to the Seminoles). It must have hurt, too, to see former Florida quarterback Cam Newton thriving on the other side of the SEC. Going into their bowl game, Florida is 7-5. Not ideal, but not unheard of either. A quick glance up north, and Meyer could see how Mark Richt has struggled to reload the last two years at Georgia. Look west, and Mack Brown sticks out like a sore thumb. A year removed from the national championship game, and Texas is 5-7. These two coaches are not throwing in the towel.
Urban Meyer is just the latest college drop out. When the advanced classes got difficult, he took the easy way out.
A few years from now, Meyer will be back. Probably at Notre Dame if Brian Kelly can’t return the Fighting Irish to the BCS. However, if Meyer doesn’t stay at his next gig for at least 10 years and have continued success, he should never be considered one of the greatest coaches of all-time.
That distinction belongs to guys like the one who will be opposite Meyer in the Outback Bowl—Joe Paterno. I have no problem with Meyer changing schools early on, but the great coaches have to settle down at some point and sustain success over multiple recruiting classes. They have to be able to beat the same teams over and over and over again, even when those teams know what you are going to do and are very familiar with your schemes. They do not jump ship at the first sign of disaster.
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