When I heard about Urban Meyer stepping down, first thing I thought of was how soon it would be before he went Billy Donovan on us. This morning, the ORLANDO SENTINEL asked Meyer’s wife Shelley about the possibility:
This morning Meyer told Pat Dooley of the GAINESVILLE SUN that he actually thought seriously about quitting in 2006:
“I had health issues at Notre Dame that were a warning light,” he said, referring to an arachnoid cyst on his brain that he said caused blackouts. “I’d try to back off a little bit but I can’t do that. When I came to Florida, the chest pains were controlling my life. I’d see a guy every year and ask him, ‘Why do I keep having these? Why does this keep happening?’
“I told Shelley after the 2006 championship that if we can get this program to the top and walk out of it with my health that’s what I needed to do.”
In the summer of 2007, reality hit when Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser died of a heart attack.
“After he went down, it really hit me,” he said. “It got worse. I kept going in for tests and they said my heart was fine. But the pains kept coming.
“It got bad, real bad. I was on a lot of medication.”
Dooley also reported this morning that not all of the Florida players were, apparently, cool with the coach’s decision:
“That was hard, real hard,” he said. “There were a lot of emotions in that room. A couple of players stood up and said some things.
“I’m going through a lot of soul-searching today. I feel like I have let a lot of people down.”
Benjamin Volin of the PALM BEACH POST also notes that the top player in Meyer’s 2010 recruiting class, Matt Elam, was allegedly “pissed” about the coach’s abrupt departure:
Dooley adds in his piece this morning that, “Meyer will remain in Gainesville and will have a role with the football program that has yet to be defined.”
With all due respect, if AD Jeremy Foley hires a new coach from outside the program, the last thing that new head man is going to want is Meyer hanging around. No doubt Meyer knows that, with the “always a Gator” rhetoric most likely damage control directed at the 2010 recruiting class he worked so hard to procure.
Bob Stoops, Dan Mullen, Chris Peterson, Kevin Sumlin, Tommy Tuberville, Mike Mularkey, Kyle Whittingham, Jim Harbaugh, Skip Holtz, Randy Edsall, Mike Shanahan, Gary Patterson and even Larry Fedora (Southern Miss) are all names I’ve heard so far as possible replacements for Meyer.
Former UF DC Charlie Strong is another possibility for some, but not Mike Bianchi at the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Bianchi on the current Louisville head coach:
Whom will UF athletic director Jeremy Foley hire as Meyer’s replacement? According to sources, it won’t be Strong, the popular and highly successful defensive coordinator who just took the job at Louisville.
Interesting considering the comments of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich this morning, not to mention Foley’s own actions regarding Strong in recent days.
From the LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL this morning:
“Right now there are a lot of emotions for Charlie and his family,” Jurich said. “They’ve lived there, and that’s their home. He’s done four different stints there; that’s the thing I’m worried about. I want to keep him, but I understand the pressure he’s probably going to be under, too.”
Strong has a $1.6M buyout clause in his contract with the Cards, but Jurich said he wouldn’t hold him to it if Florida wanted to hire Strong as head coach.
WHAS-TV in Louisville reported this just before Strong was hired to coach the Cardinals three weeks ago:
WHAS11 has also learned of a possible bidding war for Charlie Strong. U of L officials were made aware that the University of Florida was preparing to offer Strong a higher title in the athletic department, perhaps a vice-presidency and more money.
I’ve been told by two sources that Strong was offered as much as $1M per season to stay on at UF as Defensive Coordinator.
If that’s the case, does that perhaps hint at the strength of Strong’s candidacy for the vacant Gators head job?
UPDATE: Jurich said earlier today that he had not yet been contacted by Florida about Strong. He also noted:
“He’s excited to be here, that’s been the constant,” Jurich said. “I’m not naïve to think they’re just going to let him go by the wayside. I would imagine there’s going to be a full court press somehow.”
The more I think about it, what established coach would want this job knowing that Meyer might be hovering for a good while. We all are thinking the same thing, this could be a Coach K. situation where Meyer takes a year off and comes back. That why I think Foley will have a tougher time luring a big-time coach than people realize.