What the Urban Meyer Soap Opera Might Mean to West Virginia Football

RG YohoCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 27:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the University of Florida Gators speaks during a press conference on December 27, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Meyer is going to take a leave of absense from the team due to health concerns.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It is still hard to tell what the final impact on West Virginia recruiting will be following the departure of John “Doc” Holliday.

However, it is entirely possible that the ongoing soap opera regarding Florida coach Urban Meyer might very well have a much greater impact on Mountaineer football recruiting than anything regarding Holliday.

Not long after coach Don Nehlen came to Morgantown, Holliday convinced the former Michigan assistant that he needed to temporarily leave the coal mining state of West Virginia and mine some of the golden football talent in the state of Florida.

Holliday prevailed upon Nehlen to explore that vast Florida talent pool. History shows that they were successful in those efforts.

Moreover, those pipelines in Florida recruiting didn’t dry up after Holliday accepted a job with the Florida Gators.

In fact, they strongly continued to flow during the Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez years.

Currently, the Mountaineers are the beneficiaries of the contributions of Jarrett Brown, Jock Sanders, and Noel Devine; just three of the outstanding Florida products on the Mountaineers’ roster.

Moreover, none of those three players were recruited by Holliday, which leads me to believe that West Virginia recruiting will not suffer greatly from his departure to Marshall.

But that brings us to the curious case of Urban Meyer.

Although the numbers may vary, I think you could safely say that there are approximately 175 legitimate Division I-A football players produced in Florida on a yearly basis.

With each team only able to offer 25 scholarships or fewer a year, the math would obviously preclude the Gators, Hurricanes, and Seminoles from selfishly keeping all of those athletes for themselves.

At most, those three programs can only take approximately 75 of those young athletes.

It is this equation that explains the recent success of South Florida and other Division I programs in Florida.

However, that also leaves many of these outstanding players ripe for the picking for the raiders from the North.

With West Virginia in Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl, coach Bill Stewart and the other Mountaineer coaches, are taking full advantage of their proximity and time in the Sunshine State to make some crucial recruiting contacts with high school coaches.

With the future of Meyer at Florida in question, the Mountaineer coaching staff could just mine a few unexpected diamonds during their stay in sunny Florida.

Young football prospects and their families generally don’t care to sign with programs that are facing uncertainties with their coaching staffs.

Meyer’s daily continuing “should-I-stay-or-should-I-go” soap opera has to leave people guessing what his eventual future might be.

You can be certain that every coach, visiting the home of a hot Florida prospect that is listing the Gators as one of his top choices, will be telling him that Meyer may not stay with the Gators.

No doubt several of these prospects will be successfully persuaded by these appeals.

With the entire West Virginia coaching staff in Florida this week, you can bet that the Mountaineers will be making their best pitches for these prospects as well.

In this bright and festive holiday season, Doc Holliday’s departure may not affect the West Virginia football program as much as the holiday that Meyer is taking from the coaching ranks.