Will off-Field Issues End Up Being Urban Meyer's Legacy?
Urban Meyer is 49 years old. With a July 10 birthday, he's a fresh 49.
The summer of 2012 was about Meyer's legacy at Florida. It was about how, as the Sporting News' Matt Hayes put it, the coach went from champ "to chomped" in Gainesville.
And now, following the arrest of former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez on murder charges and a weekend that saw a Buckeye dismissed and three more suspended, talk has turned to Meyer's legacy.
It is tarnished. The shine is off the apple. Meyer is nothing but an enabler. His players are out of control. At Big Ten Media Days, in the main room, the head coach with a Top 10 team heading into the 2013 season fielded just one question about his team, while answering a flurry of questions about non-football activities.
Ink has barely dried on the undefeated 2012 campaign, Meyer's second undefeated season in his career, and yet the push to make Meyer's legacy about discipline is real.
The coach with two BCS National Championships and two more BCS bowl wins is having his college football eulogy written by the masses before ink has been put to paper on the 2013 season.
Meyer built up Bowling Green and then led Utah to an undefeated, Fiesta Bowl Championship season. He moved on to Florida, where he won two SEC Championships, two BCS National Championships, earned a Sugar Bowl title, coached a Heisman Trophy winner and produced a host of draft picks. He's now fixing the Buckeyes following their sanctions, and the revamping is off to a tremendous start.
Yet talk revolves around the legacy of the coach.
Legacies are for old men and historians. They are to be debated when the job is completed, not written when the subject is still mid-task, especially when that subject has plenty of work left to do and tread on his tires.
This is not about absolving Meyer of any wrongdoing. The arrests are the arrests. However, the push by many to take the arrests and use them to frame his legacy is a problem, particularly because the coach is trying to address the issues.
He made that much clear at Big Ten Media Days, according to ASAP Sports:
Now, sometimes I sit back and evaluate that we give too many second chances. That seems to be a big key, and that's something I'm going to continue to evaluate. I treat those players like they're my own children.
We have high expectations for them. If one of your children has an issue, that you try to educate, correct, discipline, and push them in the right direction as hard as you possibly can. When I see some of the situations where some of these players are from, for me to walk away from that player has always been very, very difficult to do. That's where we're at.
Meyer recognizes where his dealings have come into question and is looking to address it. That must be part of the legacy as well—at least, the results have to be.
If Meyer fixes this issue, that will change a lot of what will be written about him. That is certainly something to consider, especially since it is an issue that can be rectified by Meyer, his staff and, most importantly, his players.
No need to write the eulogy on Meyer's career. He's only 49.
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