Memo to Urban Meyer: Florida Football Is Bigger Than You

Bryan HoltCorrespondent IMay 13, 2009

12 Sep 1992:  Quarterback Shane Matthews of the Florida Gators drops back to pass during a game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Floirda Field in Gainesville, Florida.  Florida won the game 35-19. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran  /Allsport

In the world of college football, Urban Meyer is a modern genius.  He is constantly profiled as a brilliant recruiter, strategist, and motivator and has quickly made himself an iconic figure in the history of Florida Gator football.

He is also known for his tendency to get under the skin of and annoy most anyone whose rooting interests do not revolve around Gainesville, Fla.

However, if you are a supporter of Florida football, then Meyer has recently done something that should probably get under your skin a little bit as well.

In his latest almighty booster club rant, Urban Meyer has denounced any former Gator who publicly disagrees with or "speaks out" against a current player or coach. The main target of this action has become former Florida quarterback Shane Matthews.

Mathews, who simply suggested last season that he was frustrated that the Gators did not take better advantage of single coverage on their receivers in the Ole Miss game, is now the target of an angry speech in which Meyer basically calls him a traitor and bans him from the Florida football office.

The Meyer venting session included charming phrases such as "you're either a Gator or not a Gator," and "if you want to be critical of a player on our team or a coach on our team, you can buy a ticket for seat 37F."

This is Shane Matthews.

While not hailed in the same breath as Gainesville royalty such as Danny Wuerffel, Emmitt Smith, Steve Spurrier, Jack Youngblood, or Tim Tebow, Matthews was a key component on teams that ushered in a new era of Florida football. 

As Steve Spurrier's first quarterback, Matthews played a major role in establishing a prominent program that had been dead for years and sparking the tradition that Urban Meyer now has the privilege of using as leverage in recruiting. 

Shane Matthews was the quarterback of Florida's first ever SEC Championship team in 1991, a feat that brought interest to Gainesville and attracted a huge increase in recruiting. He was an instrument in Steve Spurrier's rapid creation of a powerhouse that would change the face of college football for years to come. 

What's next? Will Meyer ban Spurrier from future Gator functions for (gasp) coaching against his Alma Mater?

The point is that without names like Matthews and Spurrier, Florida football would be absolutely nothing like it is today. There would be little national interest in the program, recruiting would be a strenuous process, and Meyer would probably be at his "dream job" in South Bend instead of wasting his time with an average and underachieving SEC team. 

Urban Meyer will likely go down as the most successful coach that the University of Florida has ever seen and his name will forever grace the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium "Ring of Honor" five years after he leaves. 

However, to take away the right to an objective opinion of some one such as Shane Matthews, who has worked so hard to make Gainesville the football haven that it is just oozes with wrongful disrespect.

Before questioning the loyalty of others, Meyer better be sure that his loyalty to the University of Florida will never falter. 

If it ever does, do not be upset when AD Jeremy Foley denies you access to the Florida football office and tells you to buy a ticket for seat 37F if you would like to see a game.