When Urban Meyer retired a second time from coaching the University of Florida Gator football team, he stated the reasons were to spend more time with family and pursue other interests. With two daughters and a son, Meyer has often stated that family is important to him, and often uses the word “family” to describe a player or coach (e.g. he comes from a good family, etc.).
The other interests he mentioned could have been becoming a football analyst for a television network; perhaps the largest of them all, ESPN.
For the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, he joined the ESPN GameDay crew, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Lee Corso, along with Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban on the set in Glendale, Arizona.
Lee Corso and Desmond Howard eventually gave up their chairs for Meyer and Saban, and both coaches provided clear and powerful insight during halftime and postgame. Some may argue that Meyer outperformed Saban, but to Saban’s defense he isn’t the most intriguing personality in sports.
Urban Meyer looked comfortable throughout the broadcast. He seemed to work well with the GameDay crew, and there may be a future for him covering college football. Frankly, I think he would do well at it.
There are some that are criticizing Meyer for covering games on ESPN. The family excuse used during both retirements has been brought up time and time again, and it’s getting old fast. Again, he said when he left the second time that family and other interests were his reasons for calling it quits.
Let’s face it, Urban Meyer didn’t look good during the 2010 season. The entire season unraveled on him, and I’m of the opinion that his staff and Gator team hadn’t been the same since former offensive coordinator and current Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen left after the 2008 season.
Clearly, when he retired the first time, the Florida athletic director was surprised at the sudden announcement and was not prepared. Who knows what was said during the 24 hours prior to his return and acceptance of a leave of absence, but Meyer most likely was asked to come back to give Florida time to prepare for his retirement and save the 2010 recruiting class.
When he did return, he wasn’t the same Urban Meyer. Sure, he looked much better; who wouldn’t after traveling the world and taking time off. The 2010 recruiting class that signed was called by most the greatest in the history of college football, so little was lost with his absence. When he did return, it’s easy to see now that his heart was not in it. It appears that his return was a stopgap measure that allowed Foley to find a suitable replacement.
Foley most likely didn’t reach out to Will Muschamp at that time, but he did create his shortlist of Urban Meyer replacements. That’s why when Urban decided to officially call it quits, Foley wasted little time dialing up Muschamp, and as they say, that was that.
I hope Urban Meyer pursues a career in broadcasting; I think he’ll do well at it. Obviously, Lee Corso is coming to the end of his broadcasting career, and Urban would be an excellent replacement. He, Fowler, Herbstreit and Howard would be a great team covering college football.
And who knows—Urban may return to coaching in three to five years after Muschamp moves on to the NFL. Settle down, Gator Nation; I’m just saying…