Florida Football: Is Meyer an Urban Legend or Urban Liar?

cfb360 .comSenior Analyst IJuly 13, 2008

TV Man - www.cfb360.com

Whether you believe he's a legend in the making or a liar, Urban Meyer stokes passions on all sides.

Legend advocates will cite his second-year National Championship and a sophomore Heisman Trophy winner.  Liar advocates are lining up against Meyer as stories continue to build, just as bridges linking Meyer to other coaches continue to burn.

Consider these recent stories from other sites and sources on Meyer's recruiting tactics.  It's unlikely the following schools have Meyer on their Christmas card list.

LSU: Florida was ready to take all-star corner Patrick Johnson with what they thought was a bogus test score, but he committed to LSU.  How did Florida respond?  "Florida flagged my scores," Johnson said.  "They called the compliance office."

"I'm not upset," Johnson said.  "Florida made an issue about the ACT score.  They're cowards.  They had to go behind my back.  But that's OK.  We play them this year (on Oct. 11 at Florida)."

FSU (posted on noledigest.com): "While Gator fans will sit and give excuses or spin the details of what is going on, there is no denying that it seems like the UF staff flat-out lies to these kids.

"Here is a quote from Trent Pupello (a player they initially compared to Jeremy Shockey), who is looking to leave the program this year: 'Coach (Steve) Addazio (UF tight ends coach) told me to work on my speed,' Pupello said.  'He didn't say that my speed was slow or anything.  He just said that everything (at this level) is faster.

"'I need to work on speed and getting stronger, which is pretty much what we all need to work on. He said that they need me at tight end, that I’ll have an early chance to play and that all of the tight ends will play on the special teams.'"

Michigan site (on the recruitment of Daryl Stonum): The University of Florida stayed on the four star pass-catcher well all the way through.  Things crescendoed recently after a conversation with Urban Meyer.  According to Stonum, Meyer had a compelling reason why he should become a Gator.

"He told me that he talked to Coach Carr and Coach Soup and that they told him that I would be a much better fit in the Florida offense than I would be in the one at Michigan," Stonum recalled.

"I thought, wow, my coaches are selling me out?  I confronted them about it.  I asked Coach Carr and Coach Soup about it, and they said they never talked to that guy and that there was no way they ever said anything like that and that they think I should be a Wolverine.  I believed them.  Right then, I knew just how Florida rolled."

Just Funny: You can't tell the story about Jevan Snead enough (recounted in the book Meat Market).  The funniest thing I read in it concerned what Urban Meyer told Jevan Snead.  Snead had watched the Outside the Lines special on Tebow, which showed Meyer and OC Dan Mullen in the stands.  Problem was, Meyer had told Snead, committed at the time, that he was the only quarterback they were going after.

When Snead asked Meyer about it, Meyer responded, "We are recruiting him for linebacker."  I had heard that before, but got a big kick out of reading it in the book straight from Snead.

More LSU from Fox 26 in Houston: "Hempstead's Terrance Toliver, one of the nation's top high school football recruits, says negative recruiting tactics by the University of Florida first had him confused and bewildered.  But in an unusual move, two Hempstead High School employees went above and beyond the call of duty to help Toliver make the biggest decision of his life.

"After a vigorous early recruiting rush, it came down to LSU and Florida for Toliver, considered by many the No. 1 high school recruit in Texas and the best wide receiver in the nation.  He ended up signing a letter-of-intent with LSU on National Signing Day Wednesday, but not before Florida coaches took several shots at LSU, leaving Toliver unsure what to do next.

"'Every time (Florida recruiters) came, they just said LSU doesn't qualify their players,' Toliver told FOX 26's Mark Berman Wednesday.  'About (how) their academics are not all that.  It kind of had me confused.'"

"Eventually a bewildered Toliver asked his football coach Rick Sargent and Hempstead instructional coordinator Tina Johnson to go to Baton Rouge to find out the truth about LSU.  The two went last weekend.  'They went and checked (LSU's) academics out and their facilities,' Toliver said.  'They just came back and told me whatever Florida was saying about the academics wasn't true.'"

Notre Dame Blog: When Meyer recruited Justin Trattou he did so by the cover of night.  Not that it's illegal, but he told Trattou not to tell anyone he was talking with Florida.  Keep in mind that Trattou was committed to Notre Dame at the time.

Amongst other things, Coach Meyer talked to Trattou about how the 3-4 defense was not a good fit for him and his football future (read: NFL, which is garbage—the Cowboys, Patriots, and Chargers all use the 3-4).  Former Gators assistant coach Greg Mattison's favorite topics about Notre Dame (with several recruits), despite his previous love for the school, included how the weather sucked and the social life suffered.

Case in point No. 2: Omar Hunter, same deal as before.  Omar was snookered into lying to everyone from Notre Dame coaches and players to likely even his parents, especially his father, who wanted him at Notre Dame due to the academics.  Hunter said that he was not talking to other schools, when in fact he was—Florida included—while being a Notre Dame commitment.

In the end, Hunter was a fraud himself, but he was not the one who was truly taken for a ride.  Coach Mattison recruited Hunter.  He had an ax to grind with Notre Dame after leaving South Bend on not so good terms, and he definitely took it to another level with Hunter.

Mattison, you see, had an assistant coaching job lined up with the Baltimore Ravens long before this past National Signing Day came around.  So when Hunter switched his commitment to UF after initially deciding to attend Notre Dame, Mattison and Meyer did what came naturally.  They lied to Hunter about the entire situation, telling Hunter that Mattison was not leaving Gainesville.

Just by complete and total coincidence, Mattison ended up taking a job with the Ravens right after National Signing Day.  Shocking!

And oh yes, Notre Dame assistant coach Bill Lewis, who recently retired as a football coach, told Hunter what was about to happen.  Hunter did not listen and signed with the Gators.

Urban continues to build the best talent base not located in Southern California.  Success certainly breeds enemies, but so does recruiting.

Urban Legend or Urban Liar?  Talk about it on the cfb360 football board.