Urban Meyer Steps Down; Who Can Fill His Shoes?

Jay HendryCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 5:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators reacts after the Alabama Crimson Tide scored a touchdown in the first quarter during the SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome on December 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

As I was coming home from James Cameron's Avatar , my phone exploded.  I'd be happier if that sentence was literal, and the piece of crap burst into flames.  Instead, I had five people tell me that Urban Meyer had just stepped down.

What the hell?

I'm actually not that surprised that he's leaving.  It's a shocker for sure, but I half–expected him to bolt for the NFL after this season.

I did not expect his post–SEC Championship hospital visit to be the end of his Gators' tenure though.  How many 40 year olds retire from multi–million dollar positions due to health reasons?  That has to be winning the Powerball rare.

Well, Gators, it's happened.  Err... it's going to happen, and it's going to happen soon.  There's no time to sit around in shock.  The university must find Meyer's success or, and not a Ron Zook type suck-cessor. 

Luckily, there are plenty of viable candidates who might be interested in an upward move (or maybe just a move South).  In the spirit of "I'm going to die if I dwell on this to long" I've got a quick list of potential post–Meyer coaches.


Great Choices

These guys are what I consider the top dogs of college football.  UF won't miss a beat with these guys, and there's virtually no shot of Ron Zook suck–cess.  You won't find better coaches.

Gary Patterson, TCU
(85–27, six 10 win seasons, three top 10 finishes)

Patterson just received the AP Coach of the Year award, becoming the first coach from a non–BCS conference to do so.  He's one of the hottest coaches around, and while he's been on plenty of short lists for coaching positions over the last ten years, he's stayed at TCU.

If you don't know what Patterson's teams are like, then go watch the 1970s Steelers.  He's got his own Steel Curtain, and his defenses are consistently the top defenses in the nation.

Nothing leads me to believe that he'll leave for the Gators, but he's never been offered a chance like this.  Before, when his name was placed on high profile schools' lists, it was during a down period for that particular school.  The Gators are a top five team right now though. 

This could be Patterson's opportunity to throw his name in the conversation for best coach of his generation.  He can't do that at TCU, at least not under the BCS.

Chris Petersen, Boise State
(48–4, four 10 win seasons, Three AP top 25 seasons)

Patterson or Petersen was the first thing that popped into my head when my brother told me Urban had stepped down. 

I think these two guys are the best coaches in the nation.  That includes Bob Stoops, Nick Saban, and any other name you can come up with.  Petersen can coach as well as any of them, and he does it with less talent.

He's played with and beaten the big boys with his high risk, high reward style of offense.  He could make a scary team with Urban's speed guys that are already in place, and I'm sure he'd love the opportunity to recruit Florida instead of Idaho.

Will he leave?  I don't know.  He's like Patterson.  He has been named a candidate before, but he's never given any team serious consideration.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah
(47–17, two ten win seasons, AP No. 2 last year)

Maybe Utah can just be Florida's D–league for coaches.  Cherry picking Whittingham would probably cause a Utah–Florida war, but he might follow his predecessor's footsteps.

Under Whittingham, Utah runs a spread offense similar to Florida's (no surprise, he studied under Meyer). 

Recruiting wise, Florida wouldn't miss a beat as he's an Urban Meyer guy running an Urban Meyer system.  He also was Urban Meyer's defensive coordinator, so the loss of Strong wouldn't be as costly.

Whittingham's only negative is that he's not as established as the previous two choices.  Patterson is clearly not a flash–in–the–pan type success, and Petersen has been too good to pass up.  Whittingham has been neither as good, nor as good as long as the other two.  Still, he's a top candidate because he's Urban Meyer's clone.


Serviceable Choices

This is actually a fairly big drop off from the top three, but I won't light myself on fire if one of these guys is coach.  Still the potential for Ron Zook suck-cess is there.

Skip Holtz, ECU
(38–26, four bowl seasons, two nine win seasons)

I don't think I could take the Lou Holtz love–fest that would come to UF if Skip were hired, but his saliva would keep me too drenched to light myself on fire. 

Holtz is a good coach, but he has zero recruits (except for Chris Johnson).  When he got there ECU was a doormat.  Now they beat teams like WVU and Virginia Tech.

His record isn't necessarily an indicator of his ceiling.  He can do better than 9–5 with Florida players, but I don't know if he's national championship caliber.

Skip would probably be the cheapest coach on this list though, since he doesn't have any elite–level success, and he's coming from such a small school.

Mike Gundy, Ok. State
(36–26, 4 bowl seasons, two nine win seasons)

Hey look! Gundy's the same as Skip!  Actually, I like Gundy more, but not as much as my top three.  His record is a little more impressive because he has to play Texas and Oklahoma every year.

The fact that we can all recognize Ok State on TV now is a testament to Gundy's success.  Even under Les Miles they flew completely under the radar (yep, Crazy Miles coached the Cowboys). 

Still, he hasn't won the Big 12, or even the Big 12 South, and I like a little more success to come with my multi–million dollar coach.


Coaches Who Shouldn't Be Considered

I don't even feel like justifying these names, just read them and figure out why we don't need to spend any time on them for yourselves.

Pete Carroll– USC

Bob Stoops– Oklahoma

Randy Shannon– Miami

Mack Brown– Texas

All Coaches– The Big 10


Coaches Who Will Cause Me To Light Myself On Fire if Chosen

Think worst possible scenario.

Steve Spurrier

He's 100 years old and he wants to retire.  Don't even let him entertain the thought of one last hurrah in Gainesville.  He's old enough to make bad decisions like that.

Ron Zook

I'll throw myself out of an airplane without a parachute and land in a vat of acid.  Oh yeah, I'll be on fire during this too.

Bobby Bowden


Any Belichick coach not named Josh McDaniels

Horribly overrated, every last one of them.

Any currently unemployed SEC coach

I don't want Fulmer or Tuberville or any of the others.  Leave them for the Kentuckys and Vanderbilts of the world to snatch up.



Charlie Strong

Does he come back to Gainesville and say sorry to the poor little Sluggers who just hired him?  I don't know, but I think we should make him an offer. 

It would be sort of like the Billy Donovan situation where he accepted a position then reneged and came back to the Gators.  Only Strong wouldn't suck like Donovan has.


    Gophers Release New 'Row the Boat' Unis 👀

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Gophers Release New 'Row the Boat' Unis 👀

    via Gophersports

    Matt Miller's Pre-Combine Rankings

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Matt Miller's Pre-Combine Rankings

    Matt Miller
    via Bleacher Report

    College Football's Biggest Sleepers in 2018

    College Football logo
    College Football

    College Football's Biggest Sleepers in 2018

    Brad Shepard
    via Bleacher Report

    Building the Perfect Offense for 2018

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Building the Perfect Offense for 2018

    David Kenyon
    via Bleacher Report