Urban Meyer couldn’t put himself through this anymore, so he had no choice but to retire. He’d ignored his health too long. Time to step back and spend more time with family.
But from here on out, he’ll always be true to his beloved school.
The story above is from 2009, by the way. Florida, to be exact.
Nine years later, he’s at it again, meaning a large shadow once again looms over coaches in Los Angeles and South Bend and all major points between, Austin and Norman included.
It’s not just that history suggests Meyer won’t play golf long. If you believe he’s sincere about calling it quits at 54, walking away not only from Ohio State but a game he’s dominated like no one save Nick Saban, you didn’t watch his exit news conference.
Reporter: “Is this truly it for your football career?”
Meyer: “It’s a complicated question.”
Twitter is abuzz with fans chanting for Meyer at Notre Dame, where he was considered a candidate before winning national titles at Florida and Ohio State. Or maybe he could end up at USC, where Kliff Kingsbury might have thought he was the heir apparent, at least until Tuesday’s news conference.
Once he’s rested up a little, Urban’s renewal might even bring him to Texas or Oklahoma if conditions are right.
This isn’t to suggest either Tom Herman or Lincoln Riley is on any kind of hot seat. Herman is pretty much on track after getting the Longhorns to the Sugar Bowl in his second season. And Riley is already a regular in the College Football Playoff.
But you never know how conditions can change in a couple of years. Texas watched Texas A&M send shock waves through college football, signing Jimbo Fisher for a guaranteed 10 years, $75 million. If it pays off sooner rather than later, Longhorn boosters may get nervous. A&M didn’t take advantage of Texas’ swoon this decade, at least not like it should have. Jimbo is a better bet to seize any opportunity. Once the balance of power shifts significantly in this state, it’s hard to tilt it back in your favor.
Riley’s situation is different mostly because he has the momentum necessary to keep the Sooners contending. The question is how much longer he wants to do it. He’s already a popular figure in NFL circles, sought out by pro coaches because of his offensive acumen. His name has come up for the vacancy in Green Bay. Even if he stays this time, his stock will only go up as the NFL transitions more and more to college principles.
Let me ask: If you were searching for a coach who’s a lock to make you into a national contender, or sustain what the former coach built, who better than Meyer?
His accessibility over the next few years will speed up timetables all over the nation. Why be patient with a coach who doesn’t own so much as a league championship if a guy who’s won 90 percent of his games and national titles at a couple different schools, no less, is available?
Besides, if you wait too long to make your move, someone else is liable to snap him up first.
Would some schools be put off by the record of arrests at Florida or the Zach Smith fiasco at Ohio State? Certainly it’d come up in conversations. Meyer’s record off the field is complicated, as he might put it. He says all the right things, but it doesn’t always seem to translate to his staff or players.
But don’t kid yourself, Meyer would be a contender for just about any major opening. He served his penance at Ohio State, such as it was. You might be surprised what the promise of a CFP payoff can do for a board’s tolerance level.
Just the same, maybe you believe Meyer really will stay retired this time. He has a cyst on his brain that gives him headaches under duress. Even had surgery for it in 2014. He doesn’t need the money, either.
Why come back and put yourself through all the misery if you don’t have to?
Let me introduce you to Mack Brown. He doesn’t need the cash, either. Had a really good TV gig going for him, playing to his strength. Didn’t have to work living rooms anymore. Didn’t have to assemble a good staff. On top of all that, he’ll be 68 in August, and his knees aren’t getting any better.
Yet last month he went back to North Carolina, the school he left for Texas, because he’s like all successful coaches. They can’t get enough. Not when the most exciting aspect of retirement, as Mack put it recently, is deciding where to eat.
Return now to Meyer’s exit conference, where another dubious reporter asks him if he believes he won’t coach again.
Meyer: “I believe I will not coach again.”
Reporter: “Are you certain?”
Meyer: “Fairly certain, yes.”
It’s like talking to your teenager. I give Meyer a year, maybe two. Once he gets some time off, he’ll be good as new. Then a big school, maybe even one near and dear to you, will call, and the cycle starts all over.
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