Shane: Urban Meyer taps out

By Shane from Centerpoint

Wow! Lately, the Gator nation must feel like they’ve somehow gotten the wrong part in a bad movie. First, disaster struck when Florida fans were forced to witness the dismantling of their football empire by the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC championship game. Now, the man who built the empire and provided the “swagger” is hanging up his cleats. I’m not buying the old “I will more than likely stay” story. He’s just trying to save the recruiting class. This cat has tapped out.

The Gator hero – the man who made them forget Spurrier – says he’s decided that his health and family mean more than winning football games.

Personally, I commend him for having his priorities in order, but I’ll bet that won’t be the case for most of those who occupy Gatorland.

Hey, I’m amazed that Meyer has stayed as long as he has. He probably deserves a badge for dealing with the radical fan base he’s faced for the last five years. Remember, this is the same psychotic group in power at Florida that established long before Urban took the job that they could screw up a good thing. Just ask Steve Spurrier.

As time passes, I’m sure the conspiracy theories will run rampant on Florida message boards, talk radio, and other outlets. Gator fans will be angry and blame Meyer for leaving because they know that without him they will undoubtedly return to mediocrity.

Ultimately, those same fickle Florida fans will hate Urban Meyer – especially if he ends up coaching the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Tim Tebow gets drafted as his franchise player. Hold the rope, Gators! I’m just kidding! However, the fires of Rome will burn if that does actually happen, won’t they?

Whether it’s a leave of absence, a resignation, or a sabbatical, Meyer apparently succumbed to the relentless pressure and high stress created directly by the dominant nature of what Saban and the Tide did to his Gators in that championship game.

Admittedly, Urban Meyer changed the culture at Florida. But, he also created his own monster. Two national titles in four years can do strange things to the mentality of a fan base. It can do even stranger tricks to the ego of the architect who designed the project.

Who knows, maybe losing Tebow is going to be much more costly than anybody could’ve ever imagined, and Meyer simply can’t get over thinking about the future without Tim running his offense?

Maybe that particular issue (or the Bama loss) is affecting Urban’s confidence in his abilities as a head coach?

Or, Meyer might be using a carefully crafted exit strategy – taking a couple of years off – while waiting for Brian Kelly to “bomb” at Notre Dame, so that he can eventually return and lead the Irish to their rightful place among the nation’s elite.

I’m not really sure exactly what’s going down with Coach Meyer and Florida right now, but I do know that Urban isn’t through coaching.

As I stated earlier, he may actually go to the NFL. But, if I were a “betting man”, I’d put the house on Notre Dame. By the way, he could end up at Michigan or Ohio State as well.

One thing is evident – he wants out of Florida.

In fact, I’m not so sure that coaching in Gainesville is the greatest coaching job in college football any longer. In spite of the ideal recruiting territory, Urban Meyer still had to deal with America’s quirkiest athletic director and that wacky fan base.

I do think Meyer saw the future clearly unfold on the turf of the Georgia Dome on that fateful Saturday night. Also, Meyer probably understands that facing the specter of Alabama on the road next year (without Tebow) carries the danger of derailing Florida’s season early.

Besides, he couldn’t have picked a better time to get out. He had a magical run with the Gators. His five-year record of 56 wins with only 10 losses is awesome, and his 2-SEC and 2-national crowns speak for themselves.

By parting ways now Meyer stands alone as the greatest coach in Florida football history. Honestly, it’s hard to blame a guy for wanting to go out on top. The sad part of the story is that somehow the Florida fans will find a way to make him the scapegoat when the program falls.
Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.