What's Next for Urban Meyer at Florida?
It has been five full seasons since Urban Meyer took over for the fired Ron Zook as the head coach of the Florida Gators in 2005 and it's safe to say that he's done pretty well.
Meyer has two national championships, two SEC titles, a Heisman Trophy winner, 57 victories, and a 14-1 record against the "Big Three" (Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida State) during his time in Gainesville.
He's also endured numerous player arrests, accusations of cheating, and the saga surrounding his resignation-turned-leave of absence due to esophageal spasms.
While Meyer's road at Florida has been paved in gold, there's no denying that there have been bumps and potholes along the way, but who am I kidding?
No championship coach is a stranger to adversity.
Speaking of tough times, Meyer is at a crossroads right now in his tenure at Florida, which was presumably finished last December when he abruptly resigned.
In addition to facing endless questions about his health and the stability of program after his leave of absence turned into two months off, his on-field product is undergoing a major transformation.
The winningest class of players in school history (48-7, 27-5 SEC), led by the larger-than-life Tim Tebow, is gone from Gainesville.
Granted, Meyer still has the likes of Jeffrey Demps, Chris Rainey, and A.J. Jones, but without Tebow, Brandon Spikes, and Co., it's a whole different ballgame.
However, the natural order of college football allows you three of four years with a class before you have to move on and start all over again.
Considering the fact that Meyer has consistently brought in highly-ranked classes (including the nation's No. 1 class in 2010 according to Scout.com ), a lack of elite athletes should never be a problem for the Gators.
Another problem for Meyer has been losing assistant coaches because of Florida's success. Consequently, the coaching staff has had to adapt to these changes.
While Meyer certainly has the football knowledge to pick able replacements (e.g. Steve Addazio, Teryl Austin), coaches like Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong don't grow on trees —that's why they were hired away.
Luckily for the former Utah head coach, the prestige of the Florida football program will make it much easier for Meyer to keep the Gators rolling.
During his time at Florida, Meyer has overseen vast improvements in football facilities, including a makeover of the locker room and weight room, as well as the construction of the Heavener Football Complex , which pays tribute to the school's football legends.
Also, Meyer has the benefit of an extremely passionate fan base and a loyal administration thanks to his early success for the Orange and Blue.
Meyer has top-notch players, facilities, and coaches that should help him compete for multiple national championships throughout this decade.
However, in his efforts to win more national titles at Florida, Meyer faces the huge challenge of overcoming the rapidly-improving competition of the already tough SEC.
Meyer's No. 1 Gators were absolutely crushed by an Alabama program that is blossoming under the direction of Nick Saban in last season's SEC Championship Game.
Additionally, there's the threat of perennial national title contenders such as LSU, Auburn, Georgia, and Tennessee to fend off during the regular season.
And that's just on the playing field.
Meyer also has to contend for visibility and relevance in the talent-rich state of Florida for recruiting purposes, which he has locked down for now because of his collection of crystal footballs.
But with Miami steadily returning to national prominence under Randy Shannon and the beginning of the Jimbo Fisher Era at Florida State, Meyer and the Gators may be in for a dog fight pretty soon.
All in all, Meyer has the potential to add another BCS championship or two to his collection, but it definitely won't be easy.
Steve Spurrier faced a similar situation to Meyer's after his four-time SEC Championship class and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel left school after the 1996 season.
The Ol' Ball Coach never returned to his dominant form after that, which proves that even best coaches have trouble adapting to a changing landscape —both on and off the field in college football.
Coach Meyer, you have the resources and the talent to do something special and make what you've got going on right now at Florida the status quo in Gainesville.
You've raised your expectations and the onus is now on you to meet or possibly even exceed those expectations—if that is at all humanly possible.
No matter what happens, you're in for one heckuva ride, Urban, and it's not getting any easier.
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