Former University of Florida coach Urban Meyer has agreed in principle to a seven-year, $40 million deal to become the new coach of Ohio State, according to a WKMG-TV report Tuesday night, which cited sources.
I have been a Division I football coach for the last 25 years and, during that time, my primary focus has been helping my teams win titles. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and I am a fierce competitor to my core. At this time in my life, however, I appreciate the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field. The decision to step down was a difficult one.
But after spending more than two decades motivating and celebrating the young men I’ve been so proud to coach, I relish the opportunity to cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports. I know how fortunate I am to be in a position to make this choice and to have a family that is as loving and supportive as my amazing wife and children have always been.
Urban Meyer stepping down as Florida's coach, sources tell FanHouse. Press conference this evening to announce decision
From the outside, the minor existential crisis at Georgia over last year's descent to 8-5 is a classic in the genre of spoiled overreaction: After six 10-win season, five top-10 finishes and two SEC championships, coach Mark Richt has obviously earned a mulligan. On paper, in terms of money, recruiting and wins over any significant portion of the last decade, the Bulldogs are still clearly among the league's elite.
But you can't really blame UGA fans for feeling like blowouts at the hands of East Division rivals Florida and Tennessee (in a down year for Tennessee, no less) in between losses to Oklahoma State and Kentucky was less of a mulligan than the beginning of the bottom falling out. Since Urban Meyer's Florida Death Star became fully operational in 2006, there seem to have been a lot of little mulligans. There was the disappointing 4-4 start that year with a rebuilding lineup led by a true freshman quarterback, followed by the lackluster start over the first half of 2007. And even after an emerging group of young stars tore through the second half of that season en route to a No. 2 finish in the final polls, they failed to capitalize on that potential with three ugly loses in their three biggest games – against Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech – after opening the season atop the mainstream polls in 2008.
If you've been strapped in for the long run, then, last year was only worst in a series of disappointments . . .
Congratulations to Chris Hill, Kyle Whittingham and the entire Utah athletic department, it is indeed a great day for one of the great Universities in America.
Florida football coach Urban Meyer visited the [Tampa Bay] Rays clubhouse Friday afternoon, pleasing several players and staff who are Gator fans. But a few had some fun with Meyer. Reliever Lance Cormier, who attended Alabama, showed him his Crimson Tide 2009 national title shirt in his locker. (Meyer smiled before stuffing it in another locker.)
Mark Richt is almost certainly not on any kind of real hot seat at Georgia, and doesn't deserve to be: Since 2000, he's ended the Bulldogs' 20-year SEC championship drought in 2002, added another conference title in 2005, led a struggling team out of a midseason slump to a No. 2 finish in the final polls in 2007 and won at least 10 games six times. The Bulldogs finished in the top 10 four years in a row from 2002-2005, the longest streak of the decade in the SEC and matching the Herschel Walker years from 1980-83 as the best run in school history. He's well on his way to becoming the most successful coach Georgia's ever had, and is already the longest-tenured boss in a trigger-happy league. . . .
The rational, skeptical half of my brain (the half I tend to trust) dismisses the Fulmer/Tuberville template as a timely but outlying coincidence, and negative recruiting as simply "in the game" – lord knows what the same coaches allegedly undercutting Richt were telling recruits about Urban Meyer's uncertain future at Florida. (And lord knows it didn't work.) At the same time, the credulous, pattern-seeking, "where there's smoke there's fire" half of my brain is thinking the perpetual hot seat is just "in the game" now, too, in a conference whose financial and emotional stockholders demand consistent returns from multimillion-dollar CEO coaches on their increasing investments in tickets, lavish facilities and outsized television contracts. With great salaries come great expectations, etc.
Richt is widely perceived as the most decent guy in the business, like Fulmer, a far cry from the burgeoning mercenary model that's paid such dividends for Florida and Alabama. If the defensive overhaul under new DC Todd Grantham doesn't take, or if new quarterback Aaron Murray struggles as a redshirt freshman, this could be the year we find out if nice guys can still afford back-to-back five-loss seasons at places with a bottom line like Georgia's.
You do have to give Richt credit for being standing by his guns on disciplinary issues, as he usually does. Mettenberger wouldn't even have been suspended for this if it had happened in Gainesville. OK, maybe that's being a little harsh. I'm sure Urb would have suspended him for the first quarter of the Gators' game against Miami of Ohio.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was a Steve Addazio hire. The two worked together at Syracuse, and Austin said Addazio called him a few days before National Signing Day to gauge his interest in the job in case it came open. This means Meyer and Addazio knew George Edwards might be planning to skip town before signing day.