Should I stay or should I gutpunch: The ebb and flow of Urban Meyer

steve-spurrier-visorI remember when Steve Spurrier announced he was resigning from the University of Florida. I was sitting at work, pretending to get something accomplished, when a friend (a Florida State grad) called and asked if I had heard the news. The Ol’ Ball Coach was gone.

As a Florida alum, Spurrier was all I had ever known. When I first arrived on campus, Emmitt Smith was still our running back and Galen Hall was still our coach (yes, I’m that old), but it was Spurrier who instantly stepped in and redefined our football program. He immediately turned things upside down in Gainesville, owning the Southeastern Conference and winning a national championship in 1996. Yet suddenly, our decade of dominance was over. How could he ever be replaced?

This Saturday, I got a similar call, this time in the form of a text. It came from Webmaster Eddie Griffin, ironically another Seminole fan. His text read simply “Have you heard?”

Once again, I knew something was up.

Eddie and I speak semi-regularly about site maintenance, big games or when our homepages will be featured on Sportsnation, but his three words led me to believe something bad had happened of which I was blissfully unaware. I was right.

I logged on to ESPN.com to check the headlines, wincing at the thought of what was to come. Nothing on their main page. Instinctively, I clicked on the college football section and there I saw it.

Urban Meyer had resigned.

Um…. What?

For health reasons, Meyer announced he would be leaving Florida to refocus on faith, family and well-being. A haze took over me.

My phone immediately started blowing up, calls from drinking buddies, alumni and fellow fans. Awash in confusion and depression, we felt just like we did when Spurrier abandoned us nearly a decade ago, maybe worse.

The list of possible successors ran selfishly through our heads, caring more for the health of the program and not of the man who built it.

We already knew we were going to have to start over without Charlie Strong, Tim Tebow and a handful of key seniors. We just didn’t know we were going to have to do so without our head coach as well. Another era had come to an end. Start drinking heavily.

SEC Alabama Florida footballIn a town where the visor once ruled supreme, it didn’t take long for Coach Meyer to cast a shadow larger than any visor ever could. He brought success to a new level, spoiling us all in the process, like Urban Claus dropping neatly wrapped national championships down every Gator chimney.

Collectively a nation of Florida fans winced at the recollection of the Zook era, fearing the next hire and knowing the program has but one direction to go: down. I had visions of eleven other SEC teams licking their chops over a debilitated, Meyer-less Florida. We play in Tuscaloosa next October, I have nothing to wear and no head coach to lead my team.

Then, after twenty four hours of friends trying to convince me that change is good, I received another text, this one much more enlightened.

False alarm. Coach has decided to stay. My panties in a wad for nothing, my Chump Chat Christmas wish for Meyer to return had been answered. Meyer’s decision to flee Florida had lasted as long as Billy Donovan’s when he left to coach the Magic for a day. Must be something in the Alachua County water supply.

Instead of retiring, Meyer announced he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence. While refusing to answer specific health-related questions, Meyer only cited a need to return to his core values. We knew about irregular chest pains and the benign cyst in his brain. We knew that he was hospitalized after the loss to Alabama. We just didn’t know how bad it really was.

I watched his press conference intently, happy that our leader was back but concerned for his well-being. He didn’t look the same. He looked sick, overworked. His drive and intensity had gotten the best of him and it showed.

Meyer is intelligent, intense and introspective, yet at 45, with only a little gray and no receding hairline, he looks older, weakened and preoccupied.

urban-meyer-gator-sidelinesWhen asked whether he saw himself patrolling the Swamp’s sidelines next fall, the competitor in Meyer answered yes, while his doctors probably secretly cringed backstage. The New Ball Coach hasn’t changed that much after all. But he’ll need to, for his own well-being.

In a way, Meyer’s announcement gave us all a chance to reprioritize our lives, especially over the holiday season. Like other intense figures before him, Meyer simply needs a break. His life depends on it. The pressure and expectation to win every game is an immeasurable burden. And we thought being broke this Christmas was stressful.

Meyer’s announcement preempted NFL football at the height of the playoff races, demonstrating he has become larger than life, ironic considering that it is actually his life that could be at stake.

Gator Nation can sleep easy knowing that Coach is back where he belongs, leading his squad into the Sugar Bowl and still wearing the orange and blue. All we can do is support him from afar and wish him a speedy recovery. After all, that’s what matters most. A speedy return to the sidelines should be secondary.

47 thoughts on “Should I stay or should I gutpunch: The ebb and flow of Urban Meyer

  1. You owe that scared to the CRISOM TIDE it was that game that almost put and end to his Career. At least his we know he will call the game next year from the booth and maybe the sidelines. Im glad for the Gators that he is not going anywhere . GO CANES

  2. Salsero… before all you Canes fans start getting in an uproar, rest assured that all will soon be right again with Gator Nation.

    And tell George I said hey and to go easy on my poor coach.

  3. I was sick..almost to tears – first concerned about how bad his health was that he needed to step down — was getting there to the point that he wouldn’t be our coach – was even getting ready to welcome Bob Stoops back.. then he changed his mind and did the leave of absence.. I can understand why he did it – after watching the guys play; realizing how hard it would be to just walk away; and since they had already presented the leave of absence option; he took it — I’m so happy; but hope he will take care of himself and make sure he gets ‘fixed’ —- then I was thinking since he is taking the leave; that perhaps Tim would stay on as an assistant offensive coach; people seem concerned about the ones that have indicated they wanted to come to Florida — can you imagine having Tim Tebow – the best college player in years being on the sideline helping out…. I think will turn out to be a good thing…. Gator Nation stands strong and stands beside our beloved coach – Urban Meyer!!!

  4. Chris

    I for one don’t know what to make of this all. I just find it strange altogether that after the loss to Alabama he’d be making an announcement like this . And after the ‘Mangino Affair ‘ Kansas , we now have the suspension of the Aggies’ Mike Leach.

    And with Leach being a lawyer we’re now finding out he’ll fight the suspension .
    There are some strange things happening in the world of college football at present.

    Courtesy of ESPN

    Leach suspended after player complaint …

    LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech suspended coach Mike Leach indefinitely after a player and his family filed a complaint about the player’s treatment after an injury.

    The school said in a release Monday defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill will be the interim coach and lead the team in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2 against Michigan State. McNeill will remain in charge of the team until the investigation is complete.

    The player, Adam James, is a redshirt sophomore wide receiver for the Red Raiders and the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James.

    A source close to the family said James sustained a concussion on Dec. 16, was examined on Dec. 17 and told not to practice due to a concussion and an elevated heart rate. The source said Leach called a trainer and directed him to move James “to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean. He was confined for three hours.”

    =========================================
    Click on link to read in its entirety
    =========================================

    Alan Parkins :):)

  5. Chris, I read your blog to my wife and two sons aloud, we all enjoyed it.All of Gator Naton got a little bit of a scare but twenty four hrs later, we all put the Razor Blades up when we heard the news that Coach Meyer would return as the Head Man at Florida. All is well with Gator Nation once again. Whewwww. Coach Meyer has at least one more SEC Title and maybe one more National Title in his Bag! Go Gators..
    The Jewells.

  6. I don’t think the loss to Alabama caused this — he’s been having problems for the last 4-5 years according to his press conference — I’m sure that game didn’t help… but not completely. I understand he would sit at his desk; going places and not eat for days — he looked pretty gaunt at the press conference — I understand being a coach at this type of school is demanding.. but he needs to take care of himself first — he will; and be back.. I feel.

  7. Donna, you’re right. He’s had the problems for years but that ‘Bama loss was so disheartening.

    He and his kids tried so hard since Ole Miss to establish something special.

    Unfortunately, we no longer perceive a 12-1 season as something special.

  8. AJC BREAKING NEWS – Dogs end up-and-down season on high note with convincing Independence Bowl win against TEXAS A&M.

    Just thought I’d throw that in – Carry On!

  9. Ath… congrats on a hard-fought victory.

    Fortunately, I had UGA ranked one of the highest in my confidence points in a Bowl pool I’m in.

    Why is it that Georgia turns it on hard come bowl time but not during the regular season?

  10. Don’t feel bad, bra…Doug Dickey was the Coach when I got here lol.

    I think Urb planned to run the table and ride into the sunset with TT and one more piece of crystal in tow. Then came ATL and tilt ever since. I still have a nagging feeling this may not end well. Regardless, we can’t thank Urb enough for a helluva ride.

  11. Yazzo…

    Funny, my step-dad, soon to be 53, said the same thing. What can I say, my mom likes ‘em young.

    I’m trying to stay positive on Meyer but I understand your point of view.

    Dude, I’m not sure what happened to me in the NFL pickem but I’ve run myself out of contention with some lousy picks the last few weeks.

    That’s what I get for watching the Bucs and the Bucs only.

  12. Yep, the chalk has taken a beating here lately…we’re both unlikely to cash.

    BTW, polldaddy must have slept through JJ winning his fourth straight NASCAR Cup this year.

  13. He got a few votes, man. Moreso than A-Roid.

    I’ll admit to not having that many NASCAR readers. They find that when they read what I write about NASCAR, they tend to lose brain cells.

    I send all my NASCAR readers over to Han’s place. He doesn’t charge them a cover.

  14. Chris

    It’s something of a gray area but in all honesty ‘the coach’ is ultimately responsible for the action of his assistants whether he likes it or not. And in this case I think that Leach was fully aware as to what was going on.

    Urban would’ve been far more believable had he stated that he was taking a leave of absence to deal with a personal issue and that’s it. Instead of this hog-wash about his health. What’s he saying after four years of coaching the Gators he hadn’t already been stressed out ? What’s he taking the fans as being ?

    Alan Parkins :)

  15. Chris

    I’d left you a response concerning my piece on Meyer. I think you’ll the most recent as well as the previous one to your liking.

    tophatal said,

    December 29, 2009 at 8:01 am · Edit

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    Chris Humpherys

    I’m not averse to reading the sportschump in any type of environment , just as long as I’m not being asked to read it during sex. It tends to put a damper on things for both parties involved in the ‘act’ of copulating , don’t you think ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    ‘I’m not writing about you, honestly ‘ !

    ‘Honestly babe, I’m not writing about you . It’s just that I’m subscribing to sportshump’s site. You’ve got to believe me’ !

    Makes you think doesn’t it ?

    =========================

    Do bear in mind that as your comment box doesn’t allow for pics to be constituted within . It takes the edge of somewhat.

    Alan Parkins :):)

  16. Al… I think Leach is toast.

    And I don’t believe in the conspiracy theory that Meyer is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

    I honestly think he’s not telling us the details about his health issues because he wants to keep it private, which is allowed and should be respected.

    At least he didn’t pull a Tiger, disappear and not say anything about his condition for a month.

  17. I hope he is ok from a health standpoint, but he can take it easy until after signing day. His dream job is still filled right now, but Tress is closer to retirement than most expect.

  18. Thank you sir. I think he is probably ok. I am sure he has developed into a marvelous pocket passer since November…no worries.

  19. Hello Reverend,
    Until this all came out I was not aware of his medical problems. From what I’ve read here it sounds even worse than I had first come to believe.
    I wish him and his family the best.

    Speaking of getting old, I read in the comments that your step-dad is my age, but if you ever start calling me pops I will never leave another comment:)

  20. Chris

    Do you in all honesty think that Urban is being completely above board ? I mean look at the crap that has gone under his watch within the program. And now he’s trying to look all sacrosanct and pious with this latest statement , thereby seeking the public’s empathy.

    There’s more to this that he and the faculty aren’t letting on about and it could come back to bite someone in the proverbial a_s.

    Ooh Child Things Are Gonna To Get Easier, Ooh Child Things Are Gonna Get Brighter , Gotta’ Keep Your Head Up ..

    Props to Tupac , there ! much respec’ and love !

    Can things now get much worse for T-Mac, T-Bag , T-Di_khead ? Call him what you will. Three stops in his professional NBA career and in all three he’s outlived and outstayed his welcome. Either by deriding his teammates, coaches or the organization itself. And to top it all now the Rockets are trying to trade him. With that $23 million price tag around his neck. I seriously doubt that there’ll be any major players or takers for his services . He’s coming off as a ‘new look’ AI !

    Do You Know Who I Am ? I’m Tracy McGrady Y’All Hearin’ Me ? I’m Da Man ! I’m Tracy McGrady *%tch ! ………..

    What a fall from grace !

    Alan Parkins :)

  21. Chris

    Leach is ‘toast’ alright and he still fails to admit or comprehend how grave the situation might’ve been concerning Craig James’ son , Adam James.

    What’s even more incendiary is this idiotic notion by ESPN’s Colin Cowherd that this all being blown out of proportion. I wonder if he’d have been saying that , had the kid either died on the sidelines or when he was left unaccompanied in that dark room ? I find these a-holes at ESPN now all the more incredulous and completely without any intelligence whatsoever.

    You’ve Been Struck By A Smooth Criminal ….

    And low and behold, Manny’s now suing not only Floyd but the whole kit and caboodle , including Floyd’s father , Floyd Sr, his uncle , Roger and Golden Boy Promotions Inc company – including Oscar De La Hoya (Golden Boy’s owner) and Richard Schaeffer the CEO of the company. Like I said Bob Arum can’t be trusted. As now clearly he’s giving his ward (Pacquiao) some really bum advice .

    This could be laughed out of court and then some !

    Alan Parkins (: – :)

  22. Chris

    You remember some years back former Secretary of State Condolleeza Rice was asked what she’d once she stepped down from her post ? Her response that she wouldn’t mind being either the commissioner of the NFL or MLB. Well how about we get Sarah Palin to act as the mediator between the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps at this juncure ?

    It’d be fun watching and it would also be something we can tell our grand kids about don’t you think ? Tee hee !

    Alan Parkins

  23. I’m not sure what to make of this whole Meyer situation, Al.

    How funny would it have been if the 911 operator was a rabid Gator fan and when Urban’s wife mentioned his name, the operator would have just flipped out.

    URBAN? URBAN MEYER? HOLY SH*T!!! GET ME AN AMBULANCE OVER THERE STAT! THAT’S OUR COACH!!!

  24. I’ve always liked Cowherd, Al.

    But I think over the past couple months he’s saying things just to start some controversy.

    I generally like his analogies but lately he’s trying to force the issue.

    I guess four hours of radio broadcasting is tough to fill.

  25. Al… those women probably couldn’t do a worse job than is already being done.

    How about a new tv show. Celebrity Commissioner where we have has-been stars compete to make their sport better for a week.

    I think I’m on to something.

  26. Pingback: Showing Respect Where Respect’s Due (New Year’s Edition)

  27. The way I look at it Rice or Palin couldn’t do any worse a job than is already being n done by Bud Selig. As to them running the NFL , they’d have to get a set ‘brass ones’ of the size you’d see normally hanging outside a pawnbroker’s shop.

    So T-Mac has finally had enough of the Rockets ? So much so that he’s no longer wanted. I can’t see anyone taking him on, not with the $23 million he’s owed for this season. He’ll have to agree to a buyout of sorts. In the NBA they don’t believe in deferring a salary. Not like in MLB , where they do .

    And speaking of baseball , how is it that the Mets’ Omar Minaya is still in a position of GM for the team ? And now with Bay in tow, I still don’t believe that they’ll be good enough to thwart the Phillies in the NL East.

    Alan Parkins

  28. Chris

    I’m just droppin’ knowledge just one blog piece at a time.

    Ooh Child Things Are Gonna Get Easier, Ooh Child They’re Gonna Get Brighter , Gotta Keep Your Head Up…

    A piece on my three favorite sports teams .

    And I dropped this piece on the Mets. Hopefully it’s something that you’ll appreciate ?

    No Stone Will Be Left Unturned ,No Idea Will Go Unheard , No Thought Process No Matter How Stupid It Appears To Be Will Be Listened ….Blah, Blah , Blah This Is Change We Can Believe In …

    With the Wilpon family having lost they say close to , if not over $500 million in the Madoff scandal. It’s now or never, do or die for the Mets’ organization. Cause I doubt that they’ll sell the Doubleday publishing company. The Mets might look like a valuable asset because they’re in the NY media market. But it’s hardly like they’ve been successful recently. Their value is over estimated. As too are the Knicks. Jim Dolan must really think he’s sitting on a gold mine. The only true asset is Madison Square Gardens and the land it sits on. And that’s what permeated the over inflated value of the Knicks as a franchise.

    :) * :)

    Alan Parkins

  29. Chris

    That supposed 911 phone call by Meyer’s wife is as disturbing as it is mind boggling. It’s been alleged that he wasn’t breathing and that she thought he’d had a mild heart attack.

    Is she sure it wasn’t the fact that he’d downed a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label to hide his sorrow over the loss to
    ‘bama ? Either that or he’d taken one pill too many of his Cialis dosage. They do say that **&ction can last for up 36 to 48 hours and cause extreme pain and drowsiness. Perhaps she’d misdiagnosed his symptoms ? LOL,LOL, LOL !!!

    Alan Paarkins

  30. Agreed, Al. Like I said, I’ve got potential ideas about the commisionership that I may put up shortly.

    Maybe Houston can ship TMac to Washington and they can all have a gunfight since apparently those players are out of control. I think it’s time to blow up that franchise and that probably starts with getting rid of Arenas, not that he’s got any trade value.

    I think the Mets’ll still give Menaya a fair shake. He just ran into a buzzsaw lately with the Phils who can’t seem to do anything wrong.

  31. Al… I’ll be right over to check out your latest. As usual, I’m behind on my reading.

    I never took Meyer as a scotch drinker. In fact, I know he doesn’t partake of the spirits much at all.

    I ran into him once at a Mexican joint in the Ville and he had the bartender make him something fruity.

    So Black Label is probably not his bag.

  32. Chris Humpherys

    Well now that Urban has once again left the program am I to believe that he now becomes persona-non-grata amongst Gator fans even though he won them two national titles ?

    I’ll raise a glass for you while you’re shedding some tears with his departure !

    :( ____ :P

    tophatal ……… :)

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