We'll do a quick round-up of the reaction around the Web to Urban Meyer's decision to step aside as head coach of the Florida Gators in a moment, but a personal observation first.
There was one part of The New York Times' solid piece on Meyer's resignation that jarred me just a bit when I read it. It's one of those things that you know intellectually, but that nonetheless surprises you when you read it or hear it summed up in so many words.
"But I didn't want there to be a bad day where there were three kids sitting around wondering what to do next. It was the pattern of what I was doing and how I was doing it. It was self-destructive." ...
Meyer's father, Bud, said he did not know of his son's decision until he received a phone call Saturday night.
"He just doesn't take losing very well," Bud Meyer said. "He doesn't want to die because he wants to raise his family. He feels he has an obligation to raise his family. He takes it extremely hard. That's what happens."
He doesn't want to die because he wants to raise his family. Is that what we're asking coaches to do now? Obviously, Meyer is an extreme example of the college head coach so obsessed by winning the next game that he gives up hours of sleep to go over the Xs and Os one more time. Most coaches aren't going to drive themselves to the point where they have to choose between life and coaching. But we now appear to have at least one example where that's true.Part of it, of course, comes with the territory. Meyer is making around $4 million for coaching a game, after all. While we all wish Meyer and his family well -- a sentiment I forgot to whole-heartedly express in yesterday's initial posts -- It's hard to feel too badly if a generic coach loses a few hours of sleep preparing for our most hated rival. But when you look at the human toll in this case -- He doesn't want to die because he wants to raise his family -- you have to wonder if those large contracts and the expectations that come with them aren't skewing the perceptions of those making the money. And if we as fans aren't a little bit responsible for that.
Because there's something that's not quite normal about that. Few of us would stress ourselves to the point of aggravating existing health problems because of a bad day at work. Especially someone who's had so few bad days at work as Urban Meyer has in the last few days.
I'm not about to say that head coaches should be immune from criticism; this site has hardly shied away from that in the past and won't pull punches in the future. But let's remember that they're human beings too, and that sometimes the sacrifices they make for our programs -- for whatever reasons -- aren't minimal. Not when you choose retiring and living to the alternative.
More from the NY Times: Meyer doesn't know what's next
It been pretty widely reported that he'll take a "non-coaching" job with Florida -- maybe athletics director if Foley is ready to retire? -- but he seems to have been more focused on this decision than his future.
"When your health flashes before your eyes, what's before you means more than anything," he said. "I have a strong faith that there's a reason for everything, and God has a plan for us. I just don't know what it is."
Asked if he would return to coaching, Meyer said he had not thought about it. But it appeared clear that he would not return anytime soon. He said his main concern was winning the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati on Jan. 1 and making sure he took care of his coaches and his players.
"I just want to win this game for these players and make sure that the University of Florida is in good shape," Meyer said. "I haven't even thought about anything after that, other than I'm a Gator and I'll always be a Gator."
If he coaches again, the smart money is on it not being any time soon. The problem is whether he can establish the limits he now admits he needs and stick with them.
Gator Bytes: What health problem?
I assume we'll find out more about this later, but the Palm Beach Post brings up a good question -- what precisely led to Meyer's decision?
A former player said Saturday that Meyer often suffered migraine headaches and sometimes blacked out because of the cyst, and that the symptoms worsened this season as the Gators faced heavy scrutiny as they tried to defend their national title. ...
A UF spokesman said an ESPN report that Meyer was diagnosed with a defective heart valve is "inaccurate." The spokesman also denied a report by WKMG-TV Orlando that Meyer suffered a heart attack during the season.
All we've got is speculation unless and until Meyer talks about it himself.
Alligator Army: Mullen or Strong
SB Nation's Florida blog has a long and rambling post following Saturday's development, but don't read that as an insult -- it makes a great read.
I think you go to Strong first, at least to give him the option of the job. Strong continues the defensive system and can maintain the offense. Strong is also experienced in the SEC. Plus, we are familiar with him. Yes, he has no head coaching experience, but this isn't Ron Zook. ...
Until a new coach is hired, everyone is throwing crap at the wall and seeing what sticks. ESPN's Chris Low throws out Dan Mullen, Bobby Petrino, Bob Stoops, Boise State's Chris Petersen. I like Mullen, but I think Strong is a better recruiter. Petrino is a snake and Stoops has a pretty good gig. Petersen is a choice in the original mold of Meyer from Utah, but Florida does not need a regime change like they did Zook to Meyer. ...
I'm sticking with Charlie Strong and Dan Mullen as the top-2 candidates to replace Meyer. Both know the systems at Florida and both know the recruits. Because you ---- well know that as soon as Meyer announced he was leaving, Lane Kiffin was on the phone harassing recruits and sending hot blondes to small Southern towns to chase down high school kids who run 4.4 forties.
To answer some of the inevitable criticism to AA's post -- I've heard a lot of people talk about Strong returning to Gainesville being "career suicide," and I don't get it. Unless your coming at it from a "you want to be the guy who follows the guy who follows the guy, not the guy who follows the guy" perspective. Leaving Louisville wouldn't, I think, be too much of a hit to Strong's reputation. Having been the defensive coordinator at Florida for years, he'd have to be insane to turn down an offer from a much better job with which he has extensive ties than to move hundreds of miles away and take a multi-year rebuilding job in a different conference. If an AD or GM holds that against a guy, they don't deserve to be in the business of making personnel decisions.
Block U: Sounding slightly worried
The SB Nation Utah blog sends good wishes to their former head coach.
Secondly, this impacts Utah because Kyle Whittingham surely will be floated around as a candidate for the job. Whittingham coached along side Meyer here at Utah, followed him after he left for Florida and is a proven winner. Moreover, he is one of Meyer's closest confidants who might back such a move.
The question is whether Foley thinks lightning can strike twice.
EDSBS: Meyer should take time to enjoy a tropical paradise
Orson reacts with the right mixture of humor and profundity. Of course.
Not many people get the opportunity to get their own slice of the tropical fantastic with time left on the clock, money in the bank, and their kids still in the house. ...
Like Johnson, Meyer will probably coach again after getting bored, healthy, and a bit more attuned to not feeding himself into the fearsome machines he likes to build. He might be the same, he might not, but he will come back.
In the meantime, we hope he spends some time without shoes familiarizing himself with the wonders of daytime television, of golf, of all of the things he has the money and time to investigate now. He owes Florida nothing after giving all, and can marinate in his own personal slice of Bali H'ai for now.
I have trouble seeing Meyer in a Hawaiian shirt.
Dooley: Meyer wasn't in it for decades
More like a single decade.
Just 18 months ago I sat in a restaurant with Meyer and he told me, "I'm going to do this for 10 years. Then I'm done."
And I wondered if he meant 10 years at Florida, 10 years from that moment or 10 years total as a head coach. Turns out, he didn't make it to 10. ...
ESPN has reported that Meyer has a heart valve problem. Sources told me his "tank is empty."
Could "tank is empty" possible be a euphemism for "he's tired of dealing with constant chest pains and headaches? Just a thought.
Nutt and Miles: It's surprising
Even they don't sound insane when talking about something this serious.
"It's a shocker," Miles said in a telephone interview. "I wish him well. He's a family man. I think we all want for him to have good health and a long life so whatever that takes, if that means a break or stepping aside or whatever he needs to do, we're for him."
Nutt was still in disbelief Saturday night about Meyer's resignation as his team returned from a practice in preparation for the Cotton Bowl.
"Urban's done so much for the SEC, with winning the national championship twice," Nutt said. "Also, it's the way he's handled players and just the job he's done, you hate to see a guy like that go. You hope that with his health and everything that he can get all that back. The main thing is getting healthy. It's sad."
Yes, Houston, I think we can all agree on that. Even as someone who went through a two-year stretch when his team was defeated 107-37, I have to say that it's sad.
Saban: 'College football is better with him as a part of it'
Here's something to be sad about as fans: We'll miss what surely would have been several more entertaining match-ups between these two.
"We hope he is able to regain his health and have the opportunity to coach again in the future. Urban Meyer is a great person as well as a great coach, and the game of college football is better with him as a part of it."
Saban added: "I'm not going to be the Florida coach." Sorry, couldn't resist.
Dr. Saturday: He's a legend
Pretty good summation from someone's who no SEC homer.
Three years later, Meyer goes out with a 56-10 record over five years, a second national title to his name and a secure place alongside USC's Pete Carroll, Alabama's Nick Saban, Texas' Mack Brown and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops as the contemporary gold standard for building and sustaining a first-rate national power capable of contending for at least a major bowl game year after year, and Carroll is the only one of those coaches who has (or likely ever will) won two national titles in a three-year span. In practically no time at all, he's achieved virtual "legend" status.
Makes you wonder how the other guys do it without losing their health or sanity. Or if they do and just aren't balanced enough to realize it.
Dawg Sports: A Darned Good Gator
Okay, the Mayor doesn't go quite that far.
Let us, then, admit this about Urban Meyer: we didn't like him because we lost to him, often by a lot, and every fault we found with him was a projection of that innate revulsion to losing to anyone, much less to a rival, much less to a rival who didn't come across like a nice guy underneath. With rare exceptions (one of which rhymes with "Kane Liffin"), opposing coaches actually have to beat the Bulldogs before I care to bother with disliking them on a personal level.
That admission is important because it is a necessary antecedent to this admission: Urban Meyer was a superb football coach. ...
I do not relish, but Coach Meyer would appreciate, the only analogy that fits: Urban Meyer is the Knute Rockne of our era, excelling at the elite level from start to finish and going out too soon and on top. The difference, of course, is that Coach Rockne was cut down in his prime, whereas Coach Meyer has seen the signs of burnout and wisely heeded them. While I cannot say that I will miss him, I can say that I respect Urban Meyer for his decision.
Kyle is one of the most graceful writers in the blogging business -- even when issuing a career eulogy for a coach that he's probably as happy as anyone to see retire. His coach, involved in preparations for the Independence Bowl and probably only vaguely remembering who "Urban Meyer" is at this point, was more bland.
Westerdawg: Get back to coaching. Somewhere else.
This is an understandable reaction from the fan of any SEC East team.
Here's to Meyer's health. Hopefully, he makes a full recovery. As a Dawg fan, I hope he gets things together, gets healthy and returns to coaching ... somewhere far, far, far away from the SEC.
Hey, the Notre Dame job should be open in a few years.
Groo: Watch it with the celebrations
He reminds Georgia fans of an unpleasant fact.
Bulldog fans shouldn't be too giddy just yet -- Georgia's problems with Florida go far beyond the coach on the other sideline. Even Ron Zook had a winning record in Jax.
Which is really a statement in and of itself when you think about it.
Rocky Top Talk: East is now wide open
Along the lines of something your humble correspondent mentioned in an earlier post.
Third, the SEC East is wide open now. The Gators will still be talented. They'll also likely get a fantastic coach to replace Meyer. But change takes time. Look at Monte Kiffin's defense this year compared to John Chavis's last year. No matter how good you can be, change takes time.
You can just imagine them thinking "Lane, please don't say anything stupid" over and over again.
The important thing is recruiting
For those of you who might think we're being a bit crass going on about replacements right now: There's already a bunch of peripheral activity going on in the vital area of recruiting.
With national signing day just over a month away, hiring Urban Meyer's successor quickly will be crucial for Florida to have any chance of trying to keep intact its highly touted recruiting class.
The Gators' current recruiting class features 20 oral commitments and is ranked third in the Football Bowl Subdivision by Rivals.com behind only Texas and Alabama. But just hours after Meyer announced his resignation, it had already begun to crack.
Other coaches are already swooping in, but most recruits are staying put for now, according to The Gainesville Sun.
Capstone Report has the real story on why he left
No, it's not too soon.
Lane Kiffin won so many moral victories in his first season that it struck fear into Meyer and the entire Gator Nation. Doubt that? Kiffin only lost to the Gators by less than two touchdowns! Kiffin only lost to Alabama by less than a field goal! Sure Kiffin lost to the inept 5-19 Auburn coach, but it was a transition year in Knoxville. We have to excuse the Auburn defeat, and considering how improved Crompton's play was in the fourth quarter-it was a moral victory too! Even the UCLA disaster, the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations and HOstessgate were good for the Volunteers.
Kiffin has outfoxed Meyer at every turn.
There's more. It's all funny.
SB Nation rules a few candidates out
What do you mean Kool-Aid Man isn't real? What about Voltron?
We'll have more on this and the actual SEC football being played today later on . Also, keep it tuned to SBNation.com's story stream.