Urban Meyer Says Utah Among Those Who Can't Handle SEC Grind

Tony GuadagnoliContributor IJuly 16, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 18: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the University of Florida talks with coach Urban Meyer during the spring football Orange and Blue game April 18, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Florida coach Urban Meyer had to step carefully when asked about the effort by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and the Mountain West Conference to join the BCS party. Meyer, after all, led Utah to a 12-0 season in 2004 and then went to Florida.

Meyer, speaking to high school coaches and others at an Alabama All-Star Sports week in Huntsville (yes they allow him across the state line on occasion), was asked by Paul Gattis of the Huntsville Times what he thought about Utah's quest.

"I know Orrin Hatch," Meyer said. "They're doing what they're supposed to do. They're fighting for their team and their state and I can't argue with them. The Utah team (last) year and the Utah team we had in '04, I don't think they can survive the grind of the SEC.

"But there are other conferences out there who can't survive the grind, either. I can't disagree. I don't know if I'm supposed to say that or not. I certainly listen to them because I know them and I know their coach (Kyle Whittingham). To tell me he's not a BCS coach or those aren't BCS players, that's not true."

You might say Meyer forgot where he came from by giving a little dig to the Utes, but what did you expect him to say? He couldn't completely bash Utah or pour on too much love for the Utes even though they soundly defeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He has to respect his own conference, so the "I don't think they can survive the grind of the SEC" response was probably truthful and also satisfying to his audience in Huntsville, Ala.

Meyer also said the tete-a-tete between him and new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin really is no story.

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"I don't know Lane...it's Florida vs. Tennessee. That's the way it is," Meyer told the Huntsville Times.

Meyer didn't broach the subject of Notre Dame, and I think his statement that he will never ever coach at Notre Dame was done almost exclusively for recruiting purposes. Meyer should be smart enough to know there are no "never-evers" in the coaching profession. Notre Dame still carries cache in college football. Although most of its success is decades old it remains a coveted job. Yes, Meyer took Florida over Notre Dame in 2004, but who's to say he might not take Notre Dame in 2014 or 2016 or get an offer from the NFL that is too hard to resist.

As coach of the defending national champion and what is likely to be a near-unanimous preseason No. 1, Meyer will continue to face questions on all fronts.

 In other news:

-Former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell signed with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders. Harrell was undrafted and never got an offer from any NFL team.

-Utah is selling tickets at a record pace, with 42,000 season tickets (or 93 percent) sold at 45,017-seat Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. 

Tony Guadagnoli is the National College Football Examiner. You can e-mail him at tonyguad@yahoo.com.

Read more on Urban Meyer and Utah

A look back at Utah's bid for the national title.

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