For the second time in a 12 month span, Urban Meyer is resigning as coach of the Florida Gators after 6 years. Not many coaches get the opportunity to resign. Meyer botched it so bad last year; he decided to try it again.
Meyer cited his kids as being the reason for his resignation. He has a one daughter that plays volleyball at Georgia Tech and another daughter that has recently signed a letter of intent to play at Florida Gulf Coast.
At his news conference announcing his decision, Meyer said “At the end of the day, I’m very convinced you’re going to be judged on how you are as a husband and a father, not how many bowl games we won. I’ve not seen my two girls play high school sports. They’re both very talented, Division I-A volleyball players. So I missed those four years. I can’t get that time back.”
Any father can appreciate what Meyer is going through and the decision he had to make. He doesn’t want to leave the Florida position. But he is doing what he has to do as a commitment of being a father. And his coaching career has afforded him the opportunity to step away financially now, be the family man he wants to be, and still come back in 4-5 years if he wants.
Meyer has been highly successful wherever he has coached. Beginning at Bowling Green, moving to Utah and finally going to Florida. He won two National titles in 2006 and 2008. But it came at a price. Meyer has averaged 100 hour work week schedule as coach of the Gators.
Coincidentally, Meyer stepping down happens in the same week as the Denver Broncos firing head coach Josh McDaniels. Denver is a plum job in the NFL with a non meddling owner in Pat Bowlen. An enticing feature in Denver is Tim Tebow, the QB who led Meyer to the pair of National titles. It has to be just bad timing. Its doubtful Meyer would use his kids as an excuse to leave Gainesville only to take the job in Denver.
Two names immediately come up as possible replacements and both are former coordinators under Meyer.
Charlie Strong is head coach at Louisville and in his first season went 6-6. Strong served as defensive coordinator under Meyer and former coach Ron Zoosk. Strong replaced Zoosk as interim coach of the Gators for the December 2004 Peach Bowl. Florida lost 27–10 to Miami of Florida. When Meyer was hired, Strong was the only assistant coach retained.
Dan Mullen is another possible replacement. He is 13-11 in 2 years at Mississippi State after serving as offensive coordinator at the Florida and was also alongside Meyer at Utah.
But two others might get some calls. Boise State’s Chris Peterson is happy in Idaho and has resisted any offers up to now. But bring his offense to a school like Florida would make out the Gators back at the top by next season.
Another could be TCU’s Gary Patterson. He is another coach that has been staying put and not given any indication he would leave. But the Gators provide a new challenge, and new mountain to conquer in the SEC.
An underlying motive is both coaches would no longer be outside the BCS and fighting every year to get in. If Chris Peterson lost one game at Florida, would they be playing in the Las Vegas Bowl or a BCS game?
Two coaches that could bring a new tradition. Two coaches that are happy where they are and have built national contenders, but the intrigue of the warm weather and conference might pry them away.