Urban Meyer's Detirement: This Will Not End Well

It seems like Urban Meyer woke up Sunday morning and felt fit as a fiddle, so that whole "retirement" thing is all over. He's detiring now. That's good news, Florida fans. Right?

Just as there was with the initial announcement Saturday, there are several different directions you can go with this one. (Phrase of the day: Coach in waiting Urban Meyer.) But your humble correspondent fails to see any way that this ends well for Florida or for Meyer.

And the indications are already there for anyone who wants to see them. They came in response to a perfectly legitimate question at Sunday's press conference.

Q. And who's going to be in charge of hiring a defensive coordinator?

COACH URBAN MEYER: That's something that we're going to discuss, because this all happened so fast, in the next couple days.

Several people have defended Meyer's nonresponse to the question by noting that everything has happened quickly and no one has had a chance to figure it all out. But that's part of the problem here: Florida, a team that expects to be at or near the top of the SEC East every year, is now embarking on a process that is almost unprecedented in major college football. (All of us should hope that this turns out better for Meyer and Florida than it did for Terry Hoeppner and Indiana.)

Florida doesn't have much time to hire a defensive coordinator, much less decide who is going to hire a defensive coordinator. There are other schools looking for assistants now -- including a certain school in Athens that the Gators compete with on the field -- and moving quickly is the best way to get the person you want.

But the person who wants? If you go with the person that Urban Meyer wants, what happens if he doesn't come back in time for the 2010 season? What if Steve Addazio -- or the next head coach -- doesn't want the same kind of defense Meyer wants?

That doesn't even introduce the factor of how difficult it would be for Meyer to choose a defensive coordinator -- or make any other long-term decisions about the program -- if he "isn't allowed into his office." We've all heard of telecommuting, and some of us do that in our jobs, but running a major college football program from your home PC seems a little ridiculous, no?

These are not unfair questions. And they get to the heart of the problem with what might be the most important (football) answers Meyer gave today.

Q. Coach, you talked a lot about having gut feelings about things. In your gut do you think you're going to be the coach of this football team come fall?

COACH URBAN MEYER: I probably knew that question was coming. I do in my gut believe that will happen.

Q. But no timetable in your head?

COACH URBAN MEYER: We're going to discuss all that after. I think the important thing was to get this thing going, and let's go have a great Bowl game.

The timetable here is crucial. Recruits and current players shouldn't have to make critical decisions about the rest of their lives based on what Meyer believes "in his gut." They need to know now, if not sooner, whether it's in their best interests to go to Florida or stay at Florida if the only thing making them consider either is the opportunity to play for one of the greatest coaches the sport has seen. Some recruits are already doing their own reconsideration.

That doesn't even mention the fact that Florida needs to know whether to start searching for a head coach for 2010 -- likely a lost cause now -- or 2011. When your coach leaves after the bowl game, you end up with Ron Zook. When your coach leaves in the spring, you end up with Mike Shula. That issues like the hiring of the defensive coordinator are still up in the air is all the indication you need that Addazio is nothing more than a figure head. He is not meant to be the long-term solution.

And if he is, Florida then needs a new offensive coordinator. (Some Florida fans might argue that they do anyway, but let's put that aside for a moment.)  If Addazio has to be the head coach only in 2010, does Florida need a new offensive coordinator? If Meyer comes back in 2011, what happens to Addazio? Or the new offensive coordinator? Er, interim offensive coordinator. That they might or might not need.

From a football perspective, this is a colossal wreck with no easy fix.

But one other group of people needs to quickly know what Meyer's going to do: His family. I hate even going in that direction; far be it from me to advise another man how to deal with his family. (Though even a single man like myself knows making your wife look either clueless or like a liar probably isn't a good idea.) But I can't ignore what Meyer's father said Saturday: He doesn't want to die because he wants to raise his family. That is presumably still true. So are the stories of one of his daughters being happy to have her father back. Meyer's statements that he's going to have to figure out how to prioritize all that ring hollow.

On Saturday, he said that he was choosing his faith, family and health over football. How is that a false choice 24 hours after it was a matter of life and death?

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