It has been a funny retirement attempt for Urban Meyer. He tried to leave the University of Florida last year, changed his mind and came back. But this season, he decided enough was enough. And the Outback Bowl on New Year’s day proved to be the finale he hoped for. The Gators gave Meyer a win for his going away present, 37-24 over Penn State.
Not only did it take two years for Meyer to really leave, he did it in a game against Joe Paterno. The 84 year old Penn State coach is the one you would think would be leaving. To put it into perspective, Paterno has been using his Golden Buckeye card for over 30 years and he is still roaming the sidelines for the Lions. But on this day, it was all about Meyer.
As senior safety Armad Black was intercepting PSU’s Matt McGloin and galloping 80 yards for the game clinching touchdown, Meyer saw his career flash before his eyes. A ten year coaching career at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida that may never be equaled. Two National Titles, 103 wins, 3 Coach of the year titles. Meyer is walking away on his own terms. Something most coaches never accomplish.
He began at Bowling Green, a Mid American conference school and turned that program into a winner. Moving on to Utah, it didn’t take long to make that program into a national power either. Taking the Utes into a BCS bowl game before moving on to Florida and taking over for Ron Zook.
That put Meyer on the map. He recruited a little known quarterback after his first year named Tim Tebow. All Tebow did was break almost every SEC record for a quarterback. Tebow epitomized what Florida wanted in a college athlete. Speed, power and selflessness dictated what players Meyer recruited and the way Florida played. It paid off handsomely.
Meyer is walking away to spend more time with his family. That same family that joined him on the sideline in the final seconds of the win over Penn State. His wife, two daughters and young son were there to soak in the final moments of what many believe will be a Hall of Fame coach leaving his career behind.
After being named the new coach at Florida, Will Muschamp was welcomed by Meyer to the practice sessions before the Outback Bowl. It gave Muschamp a head start on seeing his new players, and the players the chance to impress the new coach while practicing for their final game under their current coach. Muschamp was thankful and Meyer should be given credit for showing the class he has been touted for.
Meyer won’t be leaving coaching for long. His plans are to help coach his son’s little league team this summer. How many little leaguers get the chance to play under a Hall of Fame coach? College Football will call again someday. Maybe even the NFL. Today that is in the rear view mirror for Meyer. For now it’s the family ties that bind for the Meyer clan. Nobody can argue that.