Meyer’s Decision a Stab in the Back to Gators

About the same time the Urban Meyer to Ohio State rumors started on Saturday, many of Meyer’s former players were in a 15-0 hole to Division 1-AA Furman. The Gators were being embarrassed in the Swamp in a game they had to win just to get bowl eligible. And potentially, the coach who guided them to two national championships in six hugely successful years was about to stab them in the back by taking another head coaching position less than one year after he quit due to serious health concerns and family issues. It was the perfect storm for the most disastrous Gators football season in 32 years.

Quickly on Meyer. At first I didn’t really care about the Ohio State rumors. I’ve moved on from Meyer and Gator Nation has to do the same. At the same time, if he is back on the sidelines next year, it would only prove everything that any critic or Florida hater said for the past six years – that Meyer was a slimy, devious guy. How could it mean anything else? He stepped down because the job of being a head coach was on the verge of killing him. He stepped down for his family, his young son. If those things were relevant a year ago, they should be relevant today. But if Meyer takes the OSU job, he lied to the Gator Nation. It won’t erase the good times and the good memories but it tarnishes the image we all had of Meyer. Perhaps given the nature of college football, we never should have had that image in the first place. Disagree? Let me know (@shawn_kopelakis).

Back to the Furman game. Twenty minutes in, I think most Gators fans were resolved to a loss. It was stunning and shocking and yet it wasn’t. In the end, Florida survived. It wasn’t pretty but this season, any win is a beautiful thing. For me, a few things stood out while watching the debacle. The first was that Furman’s offensive line was as good as, if not better than, Florida’s. They opened holes in the run game and protected Chris Forcier from pressure most of the day. The second was how Furman’s receivers made plays with the ball in the air and after the catch that Florida’s receivers seem unable to make. Yes, Andre Debose had a breakout game, finally looking the five-star, second-coming of Percy Harvin he was billed as on signing day 2009. Quinton Dunbar had the best game of his career. But Furman’s Tyler Hendrix and David Maples were as impressive as any Florida receiver has been this year. There is no doubt Florida’s two biggest areas of need heading into the offseason will be finding playmakers and depth along the offensive line and at receiver.

The third thing that stood out for me was the coaching. You may have missed it at the time and it was inconsequential in the end, but Muschamp’s decision to go for two after scoring to make it 22-20 was symbolic of how lost he has been as a head man this year. It reminded me of a gambler who has lost three bets in a row and blindly doubles down on the next because he thinks he is due. Everyone knows you don’t chase the points that early. And yet young Muschamp was flustered and forgot the basics of when to go for two. I feel like I have had this line in every column for the past six weeks but “this is not a call for Will Muschamp’s job”. It is merely another area where the rookie head man has to improve. This is his program and he sets the tone with every action and inaction. He has to make big strides in every facet of being a head coach.

One game left in the regular season and it’s the annual grudge match against Florida State. The shame, disappointment and stress of 2011 would be mostly wiped away with a win over the Seminoles. And despite how terrible Florida has looked for most of the year, they have a chance. I had my Gators 0-for-their-last-9 against ranked teams stat all ready and updated and then the Criminoles lost in heroic fashion to Virginia at the gun on Saturday. Florida State, in what has become a fall tradition, started the season with claims of being back only to fall flat. Both offenses really struggle against decent defenses. FSU’s defense is a little more experienced and a little better than Florida’s. This one should be close with both teams having a chance close and the likely winner being the one who doesn’t make the biggest mistake last (with these teams, you know it will come down to someone making a crucial mistake rather than someone making a play).

On to this week’s BM poll. Instead of focusing on the historic SEC 1-2-3, I have a different angle. As BM’s resident West Coaster, I take umbrage with my compatriots lack of respect for USC. Those who know me know I don’t drink Kool-Aid so don’t confuse my pimping Lame Kiffin’s team for anything other than an honest assessment. The Trojans are most definitely a top 10 team. Matt Barkley and Robert Woods are the second best QB-WR tandem in the nation and its closer than you think with Weeden/Blackmon. The emergence of Marqise Lee (someone Florida recruited and how good would he look in Orange and Blue?) and a fast, athletic defense has made SC a force. If Matt Barkley passes up the NFL (early indications are he will), the Trojans should be preseason #1 next year.

1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Arkansas
4. Houston
5. Oklahoma State
6. Stanford
7. Virginia Tech
8. Boise State
9. Oregon
10. Oklahoma
11. Kansas State
12. Georgia
13. USC
14. Michigan State
15. South Carolina
16. Wisconsin
17. Clemson
18. Michigan
19. TCU
20. Baylor
21. Nebraska
22. Penn State
23. Notre Dame
24. Virginia
25. Tulsa

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8 Responses to Meyer’s Decision a Stab in the Back to Gators

  1. SaraGator says:

    We should have learned a lesson when Urban rejected his “dream” school, Notre Dame… Urban Meyer is going to do what’s best for Urban Meyer.

    We as fans have to realize that he’s not a “Gator”. We were just a “job” to him. And, he did a damn good one.

    Also note, Muschamp is not a “Gator”. Doesn’t mean he won’t do a good job. He’s not a “Gator” like we are or Spurrier is.

  2. jdubyou3 says:

    I think you struck the right tone, Lakis. I’ll always appreciate Meyer for what he’s done for UF, but if he takes the OSU job – or any job – this quickly, there are consequences. When he left UF he said all the right things, and Gator Nation has continued to accept him as an extended part of the family since he left.

    If Meyer takes another job so quickly after citing his health and family as reasons for leaving we need to recognize, as the previous poster pointed out, that this was a job to him. It may have been a job he cared very much about, but in the end it was merely a job.

    And if Meyer recognizes his time at Florida as such, then so should Gator Nation. We should appreciate what he did, celebrate the great memories, and file him away on the shelves of Florida football history.

    You can be a celebrated ex-UF coach and living legend so long as you have a connection to Gainesville and an ESPN hosting gig. When you don another team’s colors, your living legend status gets revoked, and you are celebrated only as an historical figure. Even the great Steve Spurrier, whose standing as a Gator is beyond question, has seen this effect to some extent.

    That said, to be angry or vengeful about Meyer taking another job disrespects UF and Florida football. No coach or player means that much to Florida football, not Urban Meyer, not Steve Spurrier, and, dare I say, not even Tim Tebow [lightning cracks…crosses self].

    If you believe in the institution of Florida football, say thank you to Urban Meyer and wish him well, celebrate his Florida achievements, and hope he never wins another football game. Who knows, maybe he’ll be on the sidelines when we take our next MNC from OSU.

    Gator Nation has to acknowledge and move on.

  3. sean says:

    If anyone has read “urbans way” it’s his dream job…why not be excited for him? I have no doubt in my mind that he loved florida, or gator nation in general. Ill never forget all that he accomplished in his time at UF.

    Does it hurt? Hell yeah.

    But I wont live in the past. He’s gone and so are the national championship teams he produced. Time to congratulate him, wish him well and pray to meet up in a bowl game someday. After all we are all gators and we stick together in all kinds of weather.

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  5. In Sti Gator says:

    The difference in Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer is when Urban Meyer was winning for UF it was for Urban Meyer, when Steve Spurrier was winning for UF it was for UF first. Steve Spurrier should have been our 1st Choice when Meyer left, our second Choice Dan Mullen. I dont care if Urban took another job, because I am not sure Urban can get the same results at OSU or UF for that matter, that he got at UF with Dan Mullens and Charlie Strong. Steve Spurrier, got similiar results for 12 yrs, and had a number of Offensive and Defensive Coordinators working for him during that timeframe. The Gators won because of Steve Spurrier. Foley needs to fall on the sword on this one. A big mistake with Mushcamp and Weis.

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  7. Chris says:

    Urban taking the OSU job completely feels like a stab in the back because of all that family and health talk that he cited as the reasons for stepping down. So while my initial reaction is he’s a lying jackass, my emotions are mixed as I’m happy for the guy getting his “dream job” But we all know how this is gonna end – a hands on Urban as coach will end up having a heart attack on the sidelines, while a hands off/delegating Urban as coach will have an idiot like Addazzio calling the plays and running the team into the ground. The Big 10 cannot compete with the SEC. Sure the conference might get lucky one year and win a title once a decade (and I hope it goes to Urban) but to think Urban is gonna turn OSU around and compete for NC’s every year, it just isn’t gonna happen. He caught lightning in a bottle with Tebow & Harvin, just like Billy D did with the 04’s. Championships are damn hard to get and it’ll be interesting to watch Urban’s career evolve at his final landing spot of OSU. At best he can hope to duplicate Tressel’s success, and NOBODY in SEC country was afraid of the Sweatervest.

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