Urban Meyer, the man who brought the University of Florida back to prominence, struck fear in the hearts of opponents, and at times seemed invincible has planned to resign from his position effective immediately after the Sugar Bowl citing health reasons.
Meyer was treated for dehydration after the Gators 32-13 loss to Nick Saban and the University of Alabama in the SEC Championship.
In a released statement, Meyer said “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. I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to reevaluate my priorities of faith and family. After consulting with my family, Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley and my doctors, I believe it is in my best interest to step aside and focus on my health and family."
Since Meyer’s SEC arrival, it's seemed as if everyone was a step behind what Meyer was building at Florida.
Mark Richt fell behind at Georgia. Philip Fulmer fell behind ay UT, then lost his job. Nick Saban couldn't even catch up last year, though he got his revenge.
Apparently this year everyone started to catchup. Lane Kiffin gave Florida all it could handle, and some say he clearly got under Meyer’s skin. Nick Saban made the entire Gator team look more like a Pop Warner team than the defending national champions.
Though no one saw this coming, the pieces were there for this to have been building. This season was no walk in the park for Meyer and the Gators, though it was supposed to be.
Coming off a national championship season, the pieces were more than in place to run through opponents behind Heisman winning sensation Tim Tebow and almost every returning starter and backup from 2008.
It's long since been known the care and affection Meyer gives to Tim Tebow, though with all Tebow has done for UF, he has well earned that respect.
While Tebow is the model player for collegiate football, and possibly the best in college football history, he may have demanded more respect than even Urban Meyer.
Just last week, an article was written in the Orlando-Sentinel citing 251 traffic citations total amongst the Gator football team. Tebow may have been the one who kept this Gator team in line. Who will do it when the Gators are Tebow-less?
Run ins with the law are no new thing under Meyer's watch, with quite possibly his best defensive player, Carlos Dunlap, being suspended for a DUI prior to the SEC Championship game.
2009 was a different year for Meyer, and at times it got bumpy.
There were the aforementioned preseason problems with Tennessee's Lane Kiffin over his recruiting tactics as well as Kiffin’s typical smack talk about singing "Rocky Top" in Gainesville after this year’s game.
Kiffin didn't win the game, albeit it was closer than expected. But he may have won the war in words. That UT victory could come quicker than expected, because who's to know what will come for Florida football now.
Then came the Tebow concussion, a scary moment for everyone who followed SEC football.
While Tebow came back from the injury, many thought Meyer allowing Tebow play was a selfish and bonehead move considering the severity of the injury.
Urban caught even more heat when star linebacker Brandon Spikes was caught on TV attempting to gouge out the eyes of UGA's Washaun Ealy. Meyer suspended Spikes for the first half. Against Vanderbilt. While he was nursing an injury. Way to rule with the iron fist, Stalin.
Spikes went to Meyer and asked for a full game suspension which was granted. Not like it mattered against the Commodores anyhow.
Then came the SEC/Unofficial National Championship Game against Alabama, which showed Meyer to be human, as UF looked overpowered from the opening kickoff.
After that game was when Meyer checked himself into the hospital for dehydration, though none thought it to be serious enough for a resignation.
In the ensuing weeks, defensive coordinator Charlie Strong took the head coaching job at the University of Louisville.
Those reasons alone were enough to give Meyer at least a little reason to feel backed into a corner.
Even so, the University of Florida became a nationally recognized team under Meyer. His Gator teams routinely owned rival Florida State, and by owned, he never lost.
He was named Coach of the Year at Utah and Florida. He won two national titles in the best conference in the country. He recruited the best players, and got the best out of those players. His face was known everywhere, and his offense brought a new style and swagger to the Gators and the SEC.
To say he changed the complexion of the SEC is about right. That’s exactly what he did. And college football will miss him dearly.
That doesn’t make this resignation any less suspicious though. Sure, Tim Tebow is graduating, but Florida is in the top three per Rivals.com for next year’s recruiting class. He had a more than capable quarterback ready to step in for Tebow in John Brantley.
The offense was going to have to change with Brantley, but that’s not to say Florida wouldn’t compete in the SEC East. Urban Meyer simply didn’t have bad teams at Florida.
What he was losing this year would no doubt be replenished in the years to come. It was going to be interesting to see what Meyer could do without Tim Tebow.
And now, we may never get that chance. Is Urban completely stepping away from coaching? Headed to the NFL? Is there another collegiate job Urban is interested in? Did he think without Tebow the days were dark for the Gators? Or are health problems the real reason?
While no one’s calling Urban Meyer a liar (yet at least), something is fishy around the University of Florida. Hopefully we’ll learn more in the coming weeks, but for now, the Great Wall of Gainesville that Meyer had built may finally be coming to the ground.
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