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It’s Urban’s Way for a Reason

miller-article1A batter breaking Ted Williams’ 1941 record of .406.

A perfect season culminating with a Super Bowl victory for any NFL team – not a shot at the 2007 New England Patriots.

My bowling a 300.

I would have put money down on at least one of those transpiring before Florida head coach Urban Meyer stepped down.

Fortunately, I am not a betting man.

I learned of the news last Saturday night at 7:07 p.m. via text message.

It read, “Urban Meyer is leaving Florida! Booo. That really stinks!”

Stinks? I would only say for Gator fans.

However, I think most college football followers were utterly stunned by the news.

I (probably others as well) thought Meyer’s exit would only be followed by signing a deal with his dream job at Notre Dame.

Whether Meyer has brain and/or heart ailments that pushed him toward the decision, I wish him and his family the best.

But, grasp the enormity of the situation; few people can leave a job while at the top of their game – much less one of the top-five most coveted jobs in college football.

With all the money at stake, one contract can set a coach up for life.

After talk of Meyer’s “retirement” was just heating up, Meyer announced his comeback to the University of Florida less than 24 hours later.

I guess a life of counting money, watching television and lounging by a lake can get boring.

That life is not for Meyer. He needs recognition for his coaching, not for his leisure time.

As a top-tier college football coach earning $4 million per season, Meyer can easily taste the fame and glory.

In my opinion, that’s why Meyer is only taking a “leave of absence.”

After announcing only a leave of absence, I thought Meyer might walk down Bourbon Street in New Orleans with a marching band and elephants behind him. On top of the elephants would be clowns juggling fire.

The whole time I imagine Meyer is twirling a sparkly baton while leading the horn section with a special rendition of Eminem’s 2002 hit “Without Me.”

Still wearing the orange and blue proudly, Meyer belts out: “Guess who’s back? Back again…Urban’s back…tell a friend.”

Of course, the spectacle hits YouTube and Hulu has a full one-hour program on the Meyer press conference by the next morning.

That is the Urban Meyer way. A leave of absence is not. Unless that leave involves a return even more grand than his initial signing.

With regards to his family life, Meyer may be the best family man ever, but he has not let enough people inside his personal world for that fact to be known or confirmed.

In my opinion, he may have chosen football over his health and family.

In a press release Saturday evening, Meyer said, “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.”

His “waking moments” will continue to be in college football and for the University of Florida.

Right or wrong and beneficial or detrimental, college football is where Urban Meyer belongs.

College athletes, spread formations and Saturdays compile his family.

After reading Meyer’s “authorized biography” Urban’s Way, I focused on seven words in the prologue written by author Buddy Martin. Meyer “does not endure failure well at all.”

Even with a BCS bid in this year’s Sugar Bowl and a 12-1 record, the Florida Gators’ season has felt like a failure.

I cannot even begin to fathom how Meyer felt after a crushing loss to Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship game.

Two national championships in three years and a Heisman Trophy winner on one of the decade’s best teams mattered little after the scoreboard hit 32-13.

It makes sense as to why Meyer was admitted to the hospital the next morning because of dehydration.

According to 911 calls obtained by ESPN on Wednesday, the reason for admittance was Meyer’s “complaining of chest pains and a tingling sensation in his side.”

Losses pain him more than ever. This announced leave of absence will now give Meyer time to rest and focus more on how much winning means to his legacy.

National championships will forever be his goal, and improving upon his 95-18 coaching record is a must.

Meyer is hopeful he will return for the start of the 2010 season, and take the wheel from current offensive coordinator and soon-to-be interim head coach Steve Addazio.

“Hopeful” means nothing. Meyer will return and retake his place among the best at his profession.

Meyer will do it for himself, his players and the University of Florida.

He will do it Urban’s Way.


Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio. Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show.

Richard contributes to Inside the Game with Robin Valetutto every Saturday from 12-2 p.m.

Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.

You can e-mail Richard at Richard.Miller@jaxobserver.com

1 Responses »

  1. O.K. let's break this down.

    "I've spoken to my family, my pastor, the college president and after serious thought I've decided to retire. A leave of absence is out of the question. This decision was not made over night."

    Next we hear that football candidates are not committing to the University of Florida.

    How could they? Who would they play for?

    Suddenly - Like a Brett Favre - Urban's back on board. It's a miracle!

    No, it's a contract.

    The Bull Gators will not let this happen under any circumstances.

    Welcome back Urban.

    Maybe this was a diversion. Without the number one quarterback of all time and stellar senior players he just didn't want to repeat Bobby Bowden's mistake. The only direction is down for the Gator program. They do not make Tebows every year. If they do, Oklahoma, So Cal and other teams get them.

    Going out on top is truly the right thing to do.

    Finally, maybe this was to ruin Bobby's retirement party. Maybe it was personal. Google the number of Urban stories vs Bobby's retirement stories.

    If it is truly your health coach, you're making a big mistake.

    Wishing you all the good health in the world. Let's play ball.