Urban Meyer Opts for A Leave of Absence

Jonathan FravelSenior Analyst IDecember 26, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 21: Coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators directs play against the Florida International University Golden Panthers, November 21, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

ESPN stated during its national broadcast of the Meineke Car Care Bowl today that Florida head coach Urban Meyer is stepping down due to uknown medical reasons.

In a statement posted on the University web site, Meyer says:

“I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program,” Meyer said in the statement.

“I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family.”

Remember, after the SEC championship game, Meyer checked himself into the hospital for what was reported as dehydration. A statement that followed, reported by Chris Low and Marc Schlabach, mentioned the following:

"Florida football coach Urban Meyer admitted himself into Shands Medical Center in Gainesville, Fla., early Sunday morning and was treated for dehydration, according to school spokesman Steve McClain.

McClain said Meyer was treated and released around 2 p.m. and is feeling much better.

Meyer checked himself into the hospital only hours after the Gators lost to Alabama 32-13 in the SEC championship game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome."

Several reports mention the arachnoid cyst that was discovered in 1988 while Meyer was an assistant at Notre Dame. This is a benign intracrainal cyst that is very infrequently a cause for concern.

In most cases, the cyst is never approached as a surgical problem. On rare occasions, a misdiagnosis can occur with regard to a cystic intracranial mass but it would be highly unlikely.

At the time of diagnosis, Meyer was evaluated by some of the best intracrainal specialists in the country. It is extremely doubtful that a mistake in diagnosis occurred.

Sunday Press Conference: 4PM 12-27-09

Rather than step down as head coach, Urban Meyer has decided to take a leave of absence for an undetermined amount of time. Part of this is to "get his mind right" according to Tim Tebow.

He has had intermittent episodes of chest pain that have affected him throughout the year. He has been evaluated by physicians and the condition is not life threatening. After listening to the press conference, it seems to be more of a mental condition rather than a true heart condition.

The Florida Gators are 56-10 with Meyer at the helm. Meyer is 45 years of age. He seems to have made a premature decision last night. There are still significant concerns "for coach Meyer and for the University of Florida", according to Jeremy Foley.

For the immediate future, Meyer will coach the team in the Sugar Bowl and then take time off. Meyer will stay involved with the recruiting process until the 2010 class is signed. Spring practice will likely be conducted by the assistants while Meyer is having things physically and mentally reset.

Not much regarding the physical condition was mentioned in the press conference. Again, it seems that their is more of a mental component than was suspected from the initial statement.