Urban Meyer Steps Down As Florida's Head Coach: Winning Isn't Everything
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Florida Gators football coach Urban Meyer announced his resignation today, a move that sent shock waves through the college football landscape.
Less than a year after his well-publicized one-day retirement, Meyer has (presumably) come to the same conclusion this time around, but with a greater willingness to accept what he knew all along.
The coaching grind that he'd become so accustomed to was killing him and whittling away his family life.
Last December, Meyer cited both his health and his family as reasons, first, for resigning and then for taking a leave of absence that never quite materialized.
He had been hospitalized for chest pains (which he had been experiencing off and on for two years) and dehydration the day after the Gators lost to Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship Game, an event that set off a series of serious discussions between Meyer and his family, as well as with Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley.
Back then, Foley and Meyer's wife talked him into giving it another try.
This time around, Meyer seems set to walk away for more than just a day or a few weeks of vacationing, no matter how much some around him may or may not want him to return.
At his press conference, Meyer made a brief statement before being asked the simple question of why, at the top of his profession at the young age of 46 and with 15 to 20 million dollars still on the table, he decided to walk away.
Who will replace Urban Meyer as the head coach at Florida?
In response, Meyer talked about last year's situation being something of a "wake-up call", a phrase he invoked several times throughout the brief gathering, and how "At the end of the day, you're going to be judged on how you are as a husband and a father, and not how many bowl games you win."
Wise words from a man who made a seemingly unwise decision to come back last December, after having an abundance of very good reasons not to.
His health, his family, getting to watch his kids grow up and play sports at a high level.
And, with two BCS National Championships to his credit, no one in Gainesville or anywhere else, will likely fault Meyer for his decision to leave, given the Gators' struggle to a 7-5 record this season.
Meyer acknowledged that point himself, explaining that the current problems in Florida's football program were due in large part to its past successes. Attrition, both by coaches such as former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen (now at Mississippi State) and former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong (now at Louisville), and by players, with five juniors making the leap to the NFL last year–has cost the Gators dearly on the field this season.
Not to mention the graduation of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, whose success under Meyer's guidance makes for the stuff of college football lore.
That being said, Meyer was hopeful in speaking of the Gators' chances next year. He gushed about the level of young talent still in the program that could very well vault Florida back to the top of the SEC, if not next year then the year after.
This notion, more than anything, suggests that Meyer is finally at peace with his decision to resign, that he is ready to step out of the constant grind of college football and back into family life.
Because, if it really was still all about winning, Meyer would be back in Gainesville next year to lead the Gators to a bounce back year.
Instead, he'll be at home, with his family, perhaps watching the likes of Brett Favre and Joe Paterno do what they do, even though each is well past his peak and deep into the twilight of his career.
Toward the end of the press conference, one of the reporters in the crowd noted aloud that Meyer had a particular gleam in his eye, one that this reporter had not seen from the coach since he was first introduced as the Gators' head coach some six years and one day ago.
Fitting that, among all the questions and answers and explanations given for leaving, all it took to figure out that Meyer was gone for good this time was a little twinkle of the eye, something that had been missing from Meyer in recent years.
Ironically enough, with that twinkle still in his eye and his players prepared to send their coach out with style, Meyer's (presumed) last game as the head coach at Florida will be against JoePa and Penn State.
Might the then-84-year-old Paterno, he of 401 wins, two national titles and a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame, take a cue from the mid-40's Meyer?
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