Leading a Tebow-less existence: The challenge that lay in front of Urban Meyer

I have a picture of my uncle and me when I was about 15 years old. I’m wearing a Gator shirt in the photograph. My uncle Rosco attended the University of Florida well before me and had given me the shirt as a gift. At that point, campus life in Gainesville was still years away. I was much more focused on more important things in life, like how to properly unsnap a bra.

gator-bra2-300x200Twenty-five years later, not much has changed. I’m still wearing Gator shirts and most of my time is spent trying to finagle my way around a bra strap.

Over that same twenty-five years, however, Gainesville has changed in leaps and bounds. A school that had nary a conference championship in either football or basketball now boasts five national and twelve conference championships. They became the first school ever to hold football and basketball titles simultaneously. It was as if championships grew on trees.

But things might never be this good again in Gainesville. How could they possibly? After two championships in four years, they have a football coach who’s health is in question, a golden boy gone and nearly an entire defense drafted. The cupboard isn’t exactly bare but what’s left inside is certainly inexperienced.

For those of you who have never visited Hogtown, football is a religion. It’s no different from any other college town that lives and breathes football like Columbus or Tuscaloosa or Austin… except the weather is considerably better.

tim-tebow-freakNext season, however, marks a new beginning. The winningest senior class in SEC history has bid the Swamp a fond farewell. Gone are Riley Cooper, Jermaine Cunningham, Dustin Doe, David Nelson, Brandon James, Brandon Spikes, Ryan Stamper and of course Tim Tebow. Juniors Joe Haden and Carlos Dunlap have also declared for the draft and are both projected first rounders. Nobody knows what will happen with Urban Meyer, his health a primary concern.

Meyer shocked Gator Nation not long ago when he made his health issues public and abruptly announced his retirement. Offensive Coordinator Steve Addazio was named interim head coach, for a minute, until Urban unretired. He has now vowed to be on the sidelines this spring, but the 2010-11 season might just be his biggest coaching challenge yet.

joakim-noah-al-horford-corey-brewerA short time ago, Billy Donovan won back-to-back national championships in Gainesville. The athletes he recruited, Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer, were recently voted the college basketball team of the decade by ESPN. But Donovan’s recent recruits have yet to win a tournament game. Staying on top is no easy task.

Similarly, between 1993 and 1996, Florida won four consecutive conference and one national championship. but only one after Danny Wuerffel left. Spurrier could never recover from the loss of his Heisman trophy winner and Wuerffel was no Tim Tebow. Hence the challenge that lay in front of Urban Meyer.

Despite reports of a record recruiting class, including landing 17 of ESPN’s top 100 prospects, Tim Tebow was one of the greatest college football players ever. In many ways, he transcended the sport. Don’t believe me? There’s currently more talk about where he’ll be drafted than there is discussion about the consensus number one pick, Ndamukong Suh. Duplicating Tebow’s success won’t be easy. The shadow larger than it’s ever been.

Of course the challenge of starting from scratch pales in comparison to getting Urban’s health right, but both tasks seem monumental. Alabama won a national championship and show no signs of slowing down under head coach Nick Saban. SEC football is not for the weak of heart, no pun intended.

College football chews up coaches and spits them out. With the pressure to win and win now, long tenured coaches like Joe Paterno, Frank Beamer and Bobby Bowden are a thing of the past. Even Bowden was forced out of the stadium that bears his name.

tim-tebow-urban-meyer1Which brings us back to Urban Meyer.

Amid such stout competition, can he rebuild another national championship essentially from scratch? Can he make household names out of Ronald Powell, Dominique Easley, Matt Elam and Johnathan Dowling as he did with Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes?

If anyone can, it’s probably Meyer. Despite a whirlwind January, Meyer still managed to woo a record recruiting class to Gainesville. While that’s no guarantee of success, it’s a good start. Suddenly things might not be that bad after all. We’ll see what happens when the school takes its first Tebow-less snap.

16 thoughts on “Leading a Tebow-less existence: The challenge that lay in front of Urban Meyer

  1. An off year? Maybe, but I like what they are putting together on defense.
    Brantley won’t make anyone forget what’s his name, but he’ll be fine.

    Have a good weekend my friend.

  2. Chris

    Don’t tell me you still haven’t perfected the art of unsnapping the bra without the use of both hands . > LOL,LOL LOL !!! It’s not an inexact science because it takes practice and even more practice. No wonder Iverson hates ‘practice’ ?

    As to the Gators , Meyer and his coaching staff will have their work cut out for them this upcoming year. ‘The Tebow Years’ were great for the school and for the players, as they were no doubt getting their ‘fare share of ‘tail’. Gator Girls love the guys who can perform with guile . As I’m sure you no doubt know ?

    Alan Parkins

  3. Aer… what about after Brantley?

    And Brantley’s a different kind of QB altogether. I want to see if Meyer can adjust to his game.

    Might mean a whole new playbook. The days of third and short being automatic are a thing of the past.

  4. C’mon, Al. Over the years I’ve named my moves like Darryl Dawkins used to name his dunks.

    And by the way, did you catch Sportsnation’s best posterizations lately? That was hot!

    Spurrier never adjusted. Donovan’s still working on it. We’ll see what Meyer can do.

    There might be some bumps along the way.

  5. Chris

    If you’re bustin’ moves like that then you’ll be fine. As to the Magic , they’ve got to show that they’re battle tested. That’s why teams play the schedules that they do. It’s sorts out the men from the boys and wusses from the pu**ies.

    So Pitino wants to be the next coach of the Nets ? What he’s not sodomized any females in the Garden State as of yet ?


    It’s All In The Details ………..The Continuing Woes Of The New Jersey Nets ………… And Then Some …………………

    Alan Parkins

  6. The whole Pitino situation is weird. Maybe he knows that Calipari will be owning the state of Kentucky over the next few years so he wants his sloppy seconds with the New Jersey Nets.

    Now I hear the Cavs are BACK in the Stoudemire sweepstakes. Exactly how much beef do they need down low and who are they giving up in that deal?

  7. Nice article. Well written. I think the Gator Nation will be fine as long as we keep things in perspective. We had it good under Spurrier with all those SEC championships. Let’s not get spoiled and call it a failure if the Gators attain anything short of a national championship.

    As for the post-Tebow era, we should give the current Gators a change to forge their own legend. Maybe they will not live up to the 2006-2010 Gators, but as long as we are doing better than the Zook Years, or the 0-9-1 season, we should keep things in perspective and be happy with the current team.

  8. Alrighty, Doug showin’ a little love from the panhandle. Thanks for swinging by.

    You’re totally right but it’s tough not to be spoiled. We only had one loss this season, finished third in the nation and still wanted more. But it’s the job that the coaches and players did, very well I might add, that set our expectations that high. Trust me, this team wanted that too.

    Personally, I think Meyer can build another national championship team and THAT will solidify his legacy as one of the greatest coaches around.

  9. Chris

    The Cavs are definitely in the Amar’e ‘sweepstakes’ and the Mavs and Wizards are proposing a 7 player deal. The Mavs will still be someone’s bit_h in the Western Conference .

    Whereas the Cavs predictably will be become the allout presumptive favorites in the East . Still the Magic can take them down ?

    The NBA All Star Weekend and the evidence forthcoming , just shows me what a complete joke the whole thing is ! It’s been one great big ‘rip off’ at the expense of the fans.

    Alan Parkins

  10. I am looking forward to the game tonight, Al. I do think the NBA as an organization is interested in keeping its fans happy. That’s all Stern ever talks about. In regards to fixing the dunk contest, I’m just not sure he knows how to do it.

    I both teams benefited from that Mavs deal. It’ll be nice to see what Caron can do on a contender. I just wonder if there are enough shots for all those guys.

  11. Great stuff Chris. I think Urban will be fine. Even this year looked like a down year and they were very close to a national championship.

    I would’ve liked to see your 15 year old pic in your Gators shirt though.

  12. Ya know, FDF. I actually looked for it FOREVER and couldn’t find it. It was the basis of the post. Mom even helped but it was a no go.

    I’ll forget you ever complained about looking at a bra.

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