Urban Meyer's Resignation Real This Time
This time he means it. But since he was the coach who cried wolf last year, it's only natural to greet Wednesday's news with some Favre-like skepticism.
So to all you doubters, let me quash the rumors. This has nothing to do with Meyer wanting to avoid Jenn Sterger or hook up again with Tim Tebow. Meyer simply needed a year to figure out he got it right last time.
He really can't handle this head-coaching stuff any more.
"I think Florida deserves the best," he said. "I'm not sure we gave them the best last year."
A 7-5 record was a pretty good indication. So was Meyer's reaction after the first game when he was asked why touted redshirt freshman Andre Debose didn't play.
"Andre Debose didn't play?" he asked.
The old Urban would have known how many steps Debose took on the post route he ran in second quarter. He was the robo-coach whose entire life revolved around texting recruits and figuring out how to beat Alabama.
That led to burnout, which led to last December's anxiety-driven trip to the hospital, which led to his retirement, which led a day later to Meyer realizing he just couldn't pry his nearly cold, dead fingers off his Blackberry.
He thought he could conjure the Old Urban. Meyer always fancied himself the smartest coach in the room. With enough preparation, there was no world he couldn't conquer.
It's hard to argue with the results. Meyer won 82 percent of his games, four BCS bowls and two national titles and never came up for air.
"What he wanted was a foxhole environment," athletic director Jeremy Foley said.
He tried to strike a balance after last year, or at least get to where his kids didn't need nametags. A lot of coaches can do it. Steve Spurrier, who will be among the crazy replacement names thrown against the wall, is a prime example.
He can obsess but also let go. Meyer tried to meld the Old Urban with the New this year. What Florida got was a Half Urban.
It's not that he didn't put in the usual 100-hour weeks. But he was actually spotted the day before the Florida State game taking a quiet walk around a campus lake. The foxhole didn't have the same allure.
"Sometimes we make it far too complex," he said. "At the end of the day we're judged by how we were as a husband and a father. Not how many bowl games we've won."
That's the kind of thing men say after long walks around a lake. At Wednesday's press conference Meyer said he'd never seen his two daughters play volleyball.
A couple of reporters distinctly remember him being at some of their high-school games. But they added he spent the entire time staring and typing into his phone.
Meyer returned after last year's one-day retirement, took about a two-day leave of absence and was right back at it. He put together the No. 1 recruiting class, but something wasn't the same.
Florida's offense was pathetic. Nothing Meyer tried could turn John Brantley into Tebow. Maybe this year made him realize he wasn't always the smartest coach in the room. He said the struggles had nothing to do with Wednesday's announcement.
"You can fix struggles," he said.
Not if you're increasingly guilt-ridden over missing another of your kid's volleyball games. Meyer gave us the same family-first stuff last year, only to backtrack. The look on his wife's face at that press conference was not one of loving approval.
Wednesday was different. Foley talked about a gleam in Meyer's eye. I'm not sure if it was a gleam or a glint or a tear from walking away from a $4-million-a-year gig, but Meyer looked more relaxed than I'd seen him in six years.
He was so guarded and calculating all that time you never knew what to believe. But he said Wednesday that the only thing driving him was a desire to spend time with his family. If it was an act, it was a pretty good one.
"He's at peace with his decision," Foley said. "That wasn't the case last year."
If he takes the Broncos job next week, please forget I ever wrote any of this. But really now, Meyer is smart enough to know that coaching the NFL Tebow is not the same as coaching the SEC Tebow.
I suspect after a couple of years the Old Urban will return. But it will be on a college campus somewhere, and not the one in Gainesville.
"Good things come to an end," Foley said.
You could say this year was a waste for the Gators and that Meyer shouldn't have subjected them to his mid-life crisis. But he'd earned the right to see if he could find contentment.
So I'll take this resignation at face value, mainly because of the expression on Meyer's face.
He looked like a coach who realized that before he can fix a program, he has to fix himself.
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