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Coach Meyer Discusses Stepping Down with Players

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida coach Urban Meyer met with his players on Saturday night to tell them next Friday's Sugar Bowl game against Cincinnati will be his final game as the Gators' coach.

The news was shocking and comes partially over health concerns. The school released statements on Meyer's decision.

"I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program," said Meyer in a statement. "I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family.

"After consulting with my family, Dr. (Bernie) Machen, (athletic director) Jeremy Foley and my doctors, I believe it is in my best interest to step aside and focus on my health and family. I'm proud to be a part of the Gainesville community and the Gator Nation and I plan to remain in Gainesville and involved with the University of Florida.

"I'm very appreciative for the opportunity I've had to be a part of a tremendous institution - from Dr. Machen to Jeremy Foley and the entire administrative staff at UF. I'm also very thankful for the chance to work with some of the best assistants in college football and coach some of the best college football players and watch them grow both on and off the field as people. I will cherish the relationships with them the most."

Meyer admitted himself to Shands Hospital after returning home from the Gators' 32-13 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. He complained of chest pains and was also treated for dehydration but was released.

Asked late last week about his health, Meyer said he was doing much better. But he said he had lost a lot of weight and needed to take better care of himself.

"Coach Meyer and I have talked this through and I realize how hard this was for him to reach this decision," Foley in a statement. "But, the bottom line is that Coach Meyer needed to make a choice that is in the best interest of his well being and his family. I certainly appreciate what he has meant to the University of Florida, our football program and the Gator Nation. I have never seen anyone more committed to his players, his family and his program. Above all, I appreciate our friendship."

Machen, the school president, hired Meyer to be the head coach at Utah in 2003. Machen sought Meyer's help again at Florida when Ron Zook was fired late in the 2004 season as the Gators' new coach.

"Urban Meyer's integrity, work ethic and commitment to his players are some of the reasons we asked him to become head football coach at the University of Florida," Machen said. "As a Gator, Urban has done everything we asked of him and more. He leaves a lasting legacy on the field, in the classroom and in the Gainesville community. I am saddened that Urban is stepping down but I have deep respect for his decision."

Meyer led UF to the 2006 and 2008 national titles in his five years at Florida, with two Southeastern Conference Championships (2006 and 2008), three SEC Eastern Division crowns (2006, 2008 and 2009) and led UF to five straight January bowl games, including three BCS bowl games. He was recently named Sporting News and Sports Illustrated "Coach of the Decade."

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