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The University of Florida officially announced the arrival of Charlie Weis on Monday, one day after Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley confirmed to reporters that Weis was headed to Florida. Weis, who is currently the Chiefs offensive coordinator, will head to Florida once the Chiefs are out of the playoffs.
"Charlie will remain with the Kansas City Chiefs through the playoffs," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "We hope the Chiefs make a run to the Super Bowl - it would be great for the Chiefs and great for the Gators. Everyone involved with the Kansas City organization has been first class about the transition."
Though there's been plenty of speculation on the reasons for Weis' exit, Haley said he was leaving for "family reasons" with Weis' son going to school at Florida and working in the football program next year.
The Chiefs will now have to find their fourth offensive coordinator in the Todd Haley era. Chan Gailey was fired before the 2009 season, Haley was the man during the 2009 season and now Charlie Weis in 2010. The Chiefs have a couple of options to promote from within or else they'll look to other teams in the NFL.
Somehow, someway, this has actually happened. According to multiple reports floating around the Internet, Charlie Weis will step down as the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator to take the same position on new Florida head coach Will Muschamp’s staff ahead of the 2011 season. Florida will reportedly officially announce the hiring as early as Monday. The rumor first popped-up yesterday and, apparently, developed at warp speed.
Muschamp was looking for a coordinator to install a pro-style offense in an effort to continue the flood of high profile recruits to Gainesville. In Weis, he gets just that. Weis has extensive experience in the pro ranks, despite a failed stint as head coach at the college level.
Weis has been a journeyman coordinator in the NFL, working his way up the New England Patriots coaching ladder — while detouring to the New York Jets for a brief, fleeting moment — before taking the head coaching job at Notre Dame in 2005. That failed experiment lasted until 2009, when Weis was fired and returned to the NFL ranks. In 2010, he oversaw a successful offense in Kansas City as the Chiefs rolled into the playoffs.
In his intense opening press conference, Will Muschamp told reporters that he would bring a pro-style offense to Florida as the Gators' next head coach. A report today says that the pro style may come from one of the NFL's most successful offensive coordinators of the past decade.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen tweets that, as Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley suggested on his radio show yesterday, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis may become the next offensive coordinator at Florida, and is at the least a prime target for Muschamp.
For Florida fans, Weis being hired — which, we should note, is not official, and will likely not be announced before Monday at the earliest, after the Gators play in the Outback Bowl and the Chiefs finish their regular season — could be seen as either a coup or a massive dice-roll. Weis is regarded as a fine play-caller, but he got diminishing returns at Notre Dame, despite having Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen helming talented offenses.
Then again, Weis' Irish squads were often undone by an indifference to defense. With Muschamp commanding that side of the ball, Weis' greatest weakness might not be a weakness at all.
And, buried somewhere in there: how much does this hurt the Chiefs? Potentially losing an offensive coordinator a week before the team's first playoff berth in seven years isn't a good thing, much less one as esteemed as Weis. And though the ESPN report says Weis will stay with the team through its playoff run, having a coordinator with one eye on other things will certainly induce some anxiety.
Gators fans have taken to calling the excitable Muschamp "Coach Boom." If this move actually happens, it's definitely a boom heard around the SEC.
New Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held his introductory press conference Tuesday night, at which Gainesville’s WJXX reports he opened the evening by speaking “non-stop for almost 20 minutes.” Alligator Army’s live blog describes his pace as “a mile a minute.” Twenty minutes of BOOM! after BOOM! is enough to blur the vision of any reporter, so send WJXX and Alligator Army your thanks.
Muschamp said he hasn’t yet hired any assistant coaches, and doesn’t plan to announce any hirings until after the team’s Jan. 1 bowl game. Strength coach Mickey Merotti is the only current coach he seems to have listed as definitely staying, though he left the door open for more. He did provide a clue as to which assistants you can cross off your list, mentioning he expects to run a pro-style offense, wants a defense that uses both 3-4 and 4-3 sets, and is considering calling defensive plays himself.
As far as personnel, Muschamp said he’s tagged along on recruiting visits already with Meyer, but that he “hasn’t even looked at a roster” as far as the quarterback depth chart goes. For a team with at least three quarterbacks, that’s going to remain a hot issue. Alligator Army thinks John Brantley’s job is in jeopardy.
He also said Florida lacked discipline this season, as former coach Urban Meyer looked on in attendance.
Both sources also cite Muschamp as referring to himself in the third person, once in reference to his good relationship with Meyer and once regarding Texas.
Athletic director Jeremy Foley said Florida officials visited Muschamp on Dec. 11, the same day that reports of his surprise hire trickled out, which the school confirmed later that night.
To discuss Muschamp’s first impression, visit Alligator Army.
According to a Gainesville Sun report that’s been confirmed by the Associated Press, new Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp’s contract calls for him to be paid $13.5 million over five years, or $2.7 million per year.
Muschamp will likely be just about the tenth-highest-paid college football coach in the country next year, judging by this year’s salaries. That’s about $1.3 million less than Florida was paying previous coach Urban Meyer, but about three times Muschamp’s Texas Longhorns salary, according to the AP. There’s no telling what Texas had been planning to pay coach-in-waiting Muschamp once he took over for Mack Brown.
It’s also the second-highest coaching salary that’s been reportedly offered in the SEC this year, a couple Bentleys shy of the $3 million offer Vandy is believed to have waved at Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is expected to release Muschamp’s contract details at some point Tuesday.
To talk business with Florida fans, tote your briefcase to Alligator Army.
An awful lot of never-gonna-happen coaching changes have gone down this week, and Florida appears to have perpetrated yet another: The Gainesville Sun's Robbie Andreu is reporting that Alabama defensive coordinating wunderkind Kirby Smart has been offered what we'll safely assume is a substantial pile of ducats to make a lateral move into the SEC East and join Will Muschamp's new staff at Florida.
This is coaching search news, so please remember to apply a good-sized deer lick of salt before descending upon your message boards of choice in a screaming melee. Everybody's been wrong about everything this week, and it's not that difficult to be wrong about an organization as notoriously closemouthed as Florida football.
To the candidate: Smart is currently pulling down $750,000 a year to run Nick Saban's THE PROCESS defense in Tuscaloosa, a job he's held since 2008. His only previous coordinating experience, prior to a series of position-coaching gigs in I-A and the NFL, was a season steering the defense of Valdosta State.
This would be an interesting get for a couple reasons. Not only would it be a lateral move for Smart, but he's a proven Saban man, having served under the tiny emperor during his time at LSU, Miami, and now Bama. But every fledgling general has to flee the nest sometime, and the offer, whatever it is, is certainly a lucrative one. This could all click together this afternoon or spark a bidding war for Smart's services. You'll know when we do.
For all the latest news on Will Muschamp's nascent regime at Florida, stay tuned to this StoryStream, and connect with Gator and Crimson Tide fans at SB Nation's Alligator Army and Roll Bama Roll.
The path to Will Muschamp becoming the next head coach at Florida was paved in part by Urban Meyer's abrupt resignation this past week. Meyer spoke about family being the reason for his departure, but it seems like his health played a role, too.
The Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley reports that a source said health reasons make it "too risky" for Meyer to continue coaching, and that the esophageal spasms that plagued Meyer in 2009 — when he was hospitalized after the SEC Championship Game, then briefly resigned before later altering his resignation to a leave of absence — are just the start of Meyer's issues.
Meyer was told by doctors last week that the symptoms he continues to experience — including burning sensations in his chest -- would raise his cardiovascular risk factors, so he decided it necessitated his resignation, according to the source. Meyer had been told a year ago that if his symptoms continued, it would increase his cardiovascular risks if he continued to coach.
Meyer allegedly toned down his legendary intensity during the 2010 season, getting more exercise and eating better, but his Gators suffered on the field and he appeared more and more stricken on the sideline as his charges sputtered to a 7-5 record.
So, to Florida fans, a revelation that health figured into Urban Meyer's resignation is about as shocking as a Steve Addazio dive play.
It looks like the questions about whether Major Applewhite will become the offensive coordinator at Florida are close to being answered. Edward Aschoff of the Gainesville Sun tweets that Applewhite will head to Gainesville.
Applewhite was one of the candidates to take over as the play-caller in Austin after the resignation of Greg Davis following a disappointing 2010 campaign. Applewhite has also served as offensive coordinator in Rice and Alabama.
His defection marks the latest blow to Texas after the loss of new Florida head coach Will Muschamp, who was supposed to be the head coach of the future for the Longhorns, and the aforementioned 5-7 season. All of that could add to the pressure on Mack Brown, though Brown built up plenty of capital over the last several years.
The hiring could also signal a major shift for Florida next year. Applewhite's take on the spread isn't clear; he ran one at Rice but didn't at Alabama -- thought that was probably not Applewhite's choice. He could decide to scrap the system that Florida has now been running for six seasons. It's also worth mentioning here that the spread is a formation and not a system -- there are almost as many spread offenses as there are spread offensive coordinators. So whether the recruits for Urban Meyer's system can run Applewhite's plays could play a key role in how long it takes Florida to rebound.
It appears that previous reports of Major Applewhite joining Will Muschamp at Florida were premature. Orangebloods.com's Geoff Ketchum has two sources saying Applewhite is going, and two saying he's staying, and ESPN's Bruce Feldman cites a source who says that holding off on Applewhite-to-Florida talk makes sense.
But if the Gators' next offensive coordinator isn't Applewhite, then who will be? Speculation had percolated about Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen replacing Steve Addazio on Urban Meyer's staff before Meyer resigned; there has at least been a little isolated chatter about Holgorsen heading to Gainesville tonight.
That would fit, with the Air Raid offense popularized by Mike Leach and furthered by Holgorsen, a Leach disciple, being one of the few to truly trouble Muschamp in his time as a defensive coordinator. But at this moment, it's just speculation that sounds good.
And when thinking of other names that could float in the wake of Muschamp's move, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart may be the first to come to mind. Smart's young, has learned under Nick Saban, and has been rumored as a head coaching candidate in recent years; moving from Alabama to Florida — or Texas, to replace Muschamp — would be a lateral move. But if Florida or Texas forked over more money, it could be a lucrative one.
For Florida fans, hearing that Will Muschamp would be the Gators' next head coach answered questions about leadership and defense. But questions remained about offense, especially because Florida fans, so spoiled by the dynamic offenses of Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, Urban Meyer, and Tim Tebow, are used to pyrotechnics in the Swamp.
Muschamp bringing along Major Applewhite from Texas to replace Steve Addazio as offensive coordinator might solve that.
Orangebloods.com's Geoff Ketchum reports that's happening.
Just confirmed with two sources that Major Applewhite is expected to follow Will Muschamp to Florida as the school's new OC.
If that's true, it's a huge blow to Texas and a marginal step up for Applewhite, who served as assistant head coach and running backs coach at Texas, and was Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2007. And if Florida fans were worried about Muschamp's age, Applewhite's will be even scarier: he's just 32, and looks like he could be 25.
Clearly, if Applewhite is following Muschamp from Austin to Gainesville, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley believes in a youth movement to follow Urban Meyer's renewal of the Gators.
And, for Texas fans, if Applewhite is following Muschamp out of the heart of Texas, it's going to be a sleepless night. Their program, which played for a BCS National Championship last year, suffered through a terrible 5-7 season, won't be going to a bowl this year, and might have lost two heirs apparent in the span of an hour.
Will Muschamp will be Florida's next head coach. You knew that. But did you know that blogs may have broken this story?
It begins on Friday night, with a post by SB Nation's own Burnt Orange Nation saying that Muschamp was a top Florida target. In that post, Peter Bean wrote:
I haven't seen this reported anywhere and I'm not able to confirm it at this time. Now, it wouldn't exactly be surprising to learn Florida is interested in Muschamp, but if there's an offer out there, or substantive talks, that would be news.
(Since the news broke, BON has been less than enthused to lose Muschamp: "It's done. The wheels are off. And 2010 is officially the worst year of all time. Start your drinking, Horns fans.")
And then there's the case of Saturday Down South, which cited "a source close to the information" and reported that Florida would hire Muschamp late Saturday evening. That blog also took to Twitter to saturate timelines with the news.
Neither of those reports were taken very seriously at the time they were published. But it should be noted that both the first whiff of Muschamp being a Florida target and the first report saying he would be hired came from blogs.
We have official confirmation: the University of Florida has confirmed that Will Muschamp will be the next head coach of the Florida Gators. And it comes with one of the more hysterical descriptors in recent memory.
That would be "one-time Gainesville resident," which is how GatorZone — the official website of the Florida athletic department — begins its headline about Muschamp's hiring. It mentions that Muschamp was Texas' defensive coordinator pretty shortly afterward, but that's a rather odd way of describing someone replacing Urban Meyer, who would presumably be something like "two-time national champion" Urban Meyer in the press release announcing him taking a job.
Perhaps that's because Muschamp's been something of a forgotten man of late. He was named coach-in-waiting at Texas in 2008, and has been the Longhorns' defensive coordinator under Mack Brown for three years, but his star had cooled as a prospective head coaching candidate both because of his status at Texas and the Longhorns' poor 2010.
It could also be because of two traits that might give Florida fans pause: Muschamp is 39, which seems very young for a first-time head coach at a program as big as Florida, and he's a graduate of the University of Georgia, which will make many Gators fans skeptical off the bat.
That's just how it'll have to be, though. Muschamp is official going to be Florida's 23rd football coach. All the getting-to-know-you stuff can follow.
The world in which we live tends to react to news almost as soon as that news exists. It's an instantaneous era. But Trey Burton and Tim Tebow stepped that up tonight.
Less than a half hour before news broke that Will Muschamp would be hired as Florida's next head coach, Florida's Trey Burton tweeted this:
Welcome to the Gator nation coach!!
That tweet got deleted mere minutes afterward, but not before ESPN reporter and Florida alum Erin Andrews, among others, could retweet it. And it set the Florida corner of the Twitter universe on fire.
Then, almost simultaneously, reports of Muschamp being hired poured out, and Tim Tebow upstaged the Heisman Trophy ceremony he's been a fixture at for three years with one of the highest-profile confirmations of news Twitter has seen:
Welcome to the Gator family Coach Muschamp! You'll soon find out why it's great to be a Florida Gator! God bless and Go Gators!!!
There's nothing official from Florida or athletic director Jeremy Foley just yet. But one would think that Tebow is the sort of person who would be in a position to know things about Florida's next coach, and the sort of person who wouldn't race to be first with false reports.
Today was supposed to be a quiet day in college football. The Army-Navy game was the only FBS game scheduled. The Heisman Trophy presentation seemed like merely a way to delay Cam Newton holding up a bronze figurine. Then, seconds before that show began on ESPN, this bombshell dropped:
Will Muschamp will be named UF's new coach, sources have told the Times-Union. He's the D coordinate at Texas.
That's from Michael DiRocco of the Florida Times-Union, breaking news that Florida will hire Muschamp, Texas' defensive coordinator, to replace the recently resigned Urban Meyer.
It's a shock, to be sure — recent speculation centered on Bob Stoops, and it had been presumed that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley would tab a candidate with head coaching experience to replace Meyer — but Muschamp has been a highly regarded coordinator for many years and was expected to be a head coach at some point.
It appears that that point is now.
Because he was a former defensive coordinator in Gainesville and has been successful as head coach in Oklahoma, Bob Stoops’ name was bound to crop up in connection with Florida’s search for a new coach to replace the retiring Urban Meyer. Stoops name was already mentioned after Steve Spurrier resigned, after Ron Zook was fired and in the 24 hours last year when Meyer briefly retired.
So in some respects, it wasn’t really surprising when some Florida-centric websites started reporting that Stoops was working on the final details of a contract with the Gators. It also wasn’t surprising when Stoops quickly knocked down the rumors.
When the World contacted Stoops via text, asking him to respond to the report, he replied in a text: “Not true, whatsoever.
“I’m out recruiting as we text.”
Out recruiting — IN GAINESVILLE, maybe? No, that would be too obvious. We’re sure he’s in Orlando, right? Hey, you heard it here first …
Rumors are always fun. For instance, today's rumor mill is cranking out plenty of static that sounds a lot like Chris Petersen met with Florida officials while in Orlando for the ESPN College Football Awards banquet. If so, that's the first hint of any kind of meeting between Florida officials and a coach of any sort.
If he is on Florida's list, let's review the Petersen file, just in case the Boise State coach actually takes any offer Florida makes to become the new head coach in Gainesville.
WHY THIS MIGHT WORK FOR FLORIDA: Petersen just finished his fifth season at Boise and is sitting on a ludicrous 60-5 record as a head coach, despite coaching in near-Canada with a team full of mostly three-star recruits. Petersen is regarded as being the reason why Boise has been able to enter the national arena on multiple occasions, knock out opponents of allegedly superior caliber, and walk away whistling to their blue-carpeted Palace of Asskick with their head held high.
Petersen's offensive savvy is extensive and well-documented. He's beloved by his players, and has a knack for pushing two and three-star talent well past the perceived boundaries of their talent. He keeps a low-profile and is the very antithesis of a scene-chewing drama queen on the sidelines. (Here's your tiara, Mike Stoops.) His program has stayed off the police blotter for the most part, an advantage some might not be thinking about in terms of a Florida program with a bit of an image problem.* Petersen, unlike other Boise coaches in the past, has built a defense to match their explosive offense, and pays attention to special teams, as well.
The timing may be advantageous, too. All coaches are ambitious. Chris Petersen is a coach. Therefore, Chris Petersen is ambitious, and may have reached a point of real frustration with being excluded from national competition at Boise because of their non-AQ status. This may be a more compelling argument to Petersen than any amount of money in the end: the opportunity to compete for national titles every year without the BS of the BCS system interfering with business.
WHY THIS MIGHT NOT WORK: Petersen's done a brilliant job at Boise State, but the question to ask is: would he even listen to Florida? Getting Petersen to the table will be the first and biggest challenge of all. Petersen's famous for never talking about offers period, going so far as to evade search firms' attempts to ask him question one about his basic contract details. He's made it abundantly clear that in addition to being a Westerner, he's also particularly happy in Boise.
The next question is fit. Boise is small, and Petersen enjoys an intense but loyal following from Boise State players. Florida fans are intense, but loyal they aren't: cannibalism is the rule in the SEC in general, and in Gainesville the proverbial microscope goes up to "electron-microscope-level detail." Petersen would be a low-key bro working in a fiercely contested piece of turf. Accepting any overtures from Florida must also acknowledge the culture shock he'll experience coming into a drastically different environment from the current cozy spot he enjoys in Idaho.
Finally, there's recruiting. Petersen has no background recruiting in the SEC, and the fortunes of former Boise State coaches Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins don't bode well for test cases on what happens when Bronco coaches are asked to find talent elsewhere. In a conference where the word "cutthroat" winces away in fear from the ugly scene of recruiting, it's a legitimate question to ask when considering a coach whose bona fides are otherwise spotless.
Charlie Strong seems to be a top candidate for the head coaching position at Florida left vacant by Urban Meyer's resignation, and for a boatload of very compelling reasons. Strong coached at Florida not once, not twice, but in four different stints, the most recent being a nine-year stay beginning in 2002 where Strong served as the defensive coordinator for one of the nation's most consistent units. He was a masterful recruiter, a favorite of the Gator community, and the man behind two national title-winning defenses.
That said: Strong interviewed for a slew of jobs before he ever got to Louisville, and always in the same role as the token minority candidate who trekked to a job, interviewed well, and was then passed over for the job in favor of the guy the school wanted from the jump. It clearly wore on Strong personally, especially as assistants he worked with and entered the profession with got their first and sometimes second shots at head coaching jobs. (Meyer and Dan Mullen were both on the same staff with Strong at Notre Dame under Bob Davie, and Meyer was on his third job and Mullen on his first before Strong got hired as a head coach.)
Louisville gave Strong his first legitimate shot at a head coaching job, and a year later Strong is just beginning to build Louisville out of the Krag-hole he inherited. No one says coaching is not a mercenary business, and Strong won't stay at Louisville forever if he is as successful as his trajectory and track record indicates he will be. However, loyalty is a factor when you talk about someone who was passed over for all the wrong reasons during his time as an assistant and who finally landed at a place that believed in him.
In summary: for the moment, Strong's not going anywhere.
Urban Meyer announced his resignation from Florida at a press conference on Wednesday in what was possibly the most emotionless farewell press conference you’ll ever see. He started with one line, saying he was resigning, and then when straight to questions. It’s probably a sign that Meyer is completely content with his decision, or that he’s just totally cold-blooded, or some mix of both. Regardless, here are the “highlights” of a pretty uneventful presser:
The full transcript of Meyer’s press conference responses to the questions can be found here. He was asked “why?” a lot of different ways, but the bottom line seems to be that he wants to spend time with his family.
Nearly a year ago, Florida coach Urban Meyer stunned the football world when he announced that he was resigning his post. However, "resignation" eroded into "leave of absence," which further eroded into, "okay, I'll coach spring ball." Sure enough, he returned to the Gators this season.
Apparently, Meyer will only extend his career as Florida's head coach for one more year, as he announced on Wednesday that the Outback Bowl will be his final game, ending a disappointing season in which Florida finished 7-5. Our Gators blog, Alligator Army, wonders whether adding one sub-par year to an excellent career will serve to tarnish Meyer's legacy.
Urban didn't quit last season. He came back and spent 2010 with an offensive coordinator universally hated, a quarterback who never had the skill set for the spread offense, and a team that never had the focus necessary to win. There are a lot of supposed Gator fans perfectly happy with throwing Urban under the RTS bus following an awful 2010. But I think it is fair to accuse Urban of having a lame duck season.
Be sure to check out the rest of the post at Alligator Army. They've set up a poll asking whether the 2010 season impacts Meyer's legacy, and so far, the answer is, "no."
Following Urban Meyer’s resignation on Wednesday, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said a replacement will be named before the end of the year. “Two weeks, two-and-a-half weeks, I don’t see any reason it would take longer than that,” was Foley’s response when asked for a time frame on hiring a new football coach.
Foley also said he expects the process to be much more efficient this time compared to when he replaced the last great Florida coach — Steve Spurrier — with Ron Zook in 2002:
“The first time, no disrespect, but I don’t think I knew what I was doing,‘’ Foley said. "I’m not talking about the end result. I’m talking about the interest, the scrutiny, people tracking airplanes. I had no clue. We got a little better at it the next time."
As for who that replacement coach will be, there is plenty of speculation. The top choice appears to be Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, although he said on Wednesday that he is “absolutely committed” to the Bulldogs. Take that for what’s it’s worth.
Another name that has come up frequently is Charlie Strong, the current coach of Louisville and former defensive coordinator at Florida. Strong deflected questions about the Florida vacancy when asked on Wednesday.
With Dan Mullen somewhat-officially out of the running for the Florida head coaching position now that Urban Meyer has resigned, Florida turns is apparently turning it’s attention to the guy who they considered their No. 2 choice when they hired Meyer…Bobby Petrino.
At the top of the list: Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, who according to a source was Foley’s No.2 option when he hired Meyer from Utah after the 2004 season – and the No.1 choice when Meyer resigned last season before returning a day later. Petrino’s contract with Arkansas has a non-compete clause for teams in the SEC West Division – but not the East Division.
If he were to leave the Hogs, his buyout is estimated to be $3.1 million.
Foley told Sporting News that Florida, “won’t be scared off by contract buyouts.” That means every coach is an option.
Let the speculation continue…
Amid speculation that Mississippi St. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen would return to coach the Florida Gators after Urban Meyer’s resignation, Mullen has told the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger’s Brandon Marcello that he’s “absolutely” committed to the Bulldogs.
College football coaches say things like that all the time, but I’m not aware of Mullen going back on his word before. Though he could make much, much more money at Florida, with a greater set of resources at his disposal, he could be concerned about his reputation if he leaves the Dawgs after only two years.
Wednesday evening, MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin tweeted: “Every one calm down, take a deep breath and book hotel rooms in Jacksonville. Speculation of this nature is the price of success.”
Mullen told Marcello he wasn’t aware of Meyer’s resignation, meaning the friends with whom Meyer discussed his decision really may have been limited to his family and employers, though family friend Sean Bedford said he knew beforehand.
According to the list of coaching candidates that’s been reported — and that lines up with common sense — Florida’s next option would be Louisville Cardinals coach Charlie Strong, who worked as Meyer’s defensive coordinator at Florida.
He opened with, “I have great love for the University of Florida. I’m stepping down as head coach to focus on family and other interests away from the sidelines,” and then he took questions from the media. He did appear relieved and set in his decision.
On when he decided to step down: “Earlier this week i vist with [athletic director] Jeremy [Foley] about some thoughts I was having and made the decision yesterday.”
On how the timing is different this time around: “I love Florida. I’ve got the best bosses in the country. I’ve got a great staff, and that was a knee jerk reaction. The timing wasn’t right. The timing’s never perfect, but this way you get a new coach who can help recruiting and move forward.”
On how his family’s involvement in the decision is different this time: “Last year my daughter came home from college and found out what happened [and was surprised and upset]. This year is completely different. I’m doing what’s best for Florida, Florida players, and obviously for myself and my family.”
“Sometimes we make it far too complex. At the end of the day, you’re gonna be judged on how you are as a husband, as a father — not on how many bowl games you win. I’ve never seen my girls play sports, so I’ve missed those years. I made a commitment to them that I'm gonna enjoy the best years of their lives.”
On the impact of his resignation on recruiting: “I talked to a handful and I’m gonna make a bunch of phone calls tonight and tomorrow. Florida is Florida. We’ve put together a great class. I’m sure the coaching candidates will be great. Full speed ahead.”
On stepping down right before facing Joe Paterno, who may never step down: “Someone made a comment that if Joe Paterno stepped down at my age, it would be 1972. We’re actually great friends. I think I’m gonna see him tomorrow.”
On how Florida can turn it around: “The way you fix it is hard work. It’s because of a constant attrition of assistant coaches. [There are ten coaches throughout college football who were Florida assistants.] You lose five juniors to the NFL Draft, there’s a void. It’s Florida. We have the facilities. This is gonna be a great young team.”
On whether he consulted with associates: “Yes I did, and family discussions. My best friend’s up at Georgia Tech [presumably his daughter, not Paul Johnson], and my other best friends are high school seniors.”
On whether it’s hard to leave after a bad year: “I think Florida deserves the best, and I’m not sure we gave them the best this year. But there’s never a perfect time to leave.”
On breaking the news to players: “It was tough. I met with them today at 2. For the most part they were very gracious.”
On his legacy at Florida: “You look at the ‘06 team, they’ll go down as one of the most overachieving, hard working teams. The ‘08 team, you look at the stats, it’s hard to say that’s not one of the three best teams in the history of the game.”
On why he changed his mind last time: “I changed my mind as far as staff and players — the timing for my boss was not appropriate. It was not a good time.”
On Florida’s 2010 struggles: “I saw a dropoff. There’s a multitude of reasons from injuries to lack of execution.”
You can fix struggles. If it was different timing, and my family wasn’t involved in sports and all the things a dad should be at [I would stay]. My daughter is playing golf at Florida Gulf Coast, and I’ve not seen the school yet. I’m gonna go see it."
On his plans for the future: “Im gonna put a resume together, and I’m gonna try to be a Gatorball baseball assistant coach this spring.”
With Urban Meyer resigning on Wednesday, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen appears to be the most likely replacement at Florida. Mullen was offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-2008, a that stretch including two national titles, two SEC titles, and the most prolific offense in school history in 2008. Mullen left just before the 2008 National Championship Game to become head coach at Mississippi State, where he turned a faltering Bulldogs squad around
Likely doesn't mean definite, no matter what talk radio in Tampa tells you. (And on the food chain of rumormongering, talk radio is somewhere above a magic 8-ball and somewhere below an internet message board, since at least an internet message board is a two-way form of communication.) Mullen is also a candidate for the Miami job, and would certainly use the two to leverage a hefty contract out of one of his suitors, a process that could extend the process a bit longer than it might go otherwise. There also remains the slight possibility of Mullen remaining at Mississippi State, but given the money thrown around, his youth, and his boundless ambition, that possibility is indeed slight.
He's familiar, he's young, he's successful, and he's capable of immediately fixing Florida's biggest problem: its dysfunctional offense.
The last time Urban Meyer announced his resignation as Florida Gators head coach, he listed his health and his family as his two primary concerns. After the 2009 SEC Championship Game, Meyer was admitted into a Gainesville hospital with chest pains and dehydration.
The next day he stated his intention to step down, dialing down the decision on the following day to a leave of absence. He coached the team in the Sugar Bowl, did most of his recruiting work from home, and returned as full-time head coach in March 2010.
This time around Meyer hasn’t mentioned his health, only his family. Should we be putting two and two together and presuming his health is also a factor?
Central Florida’s Bright House Sports Network reports Meyer’s heart condition is getting worse, and that he told Gators players that he’s retiring from coaching.
If the stress brought on by an SEC East title run contributed to his 2009 health scare, the pressures of righting the Florida ship as currently constructed could indeed be even worse. If the Gators lose their bowl game, they’ll finish with the program’s worst record since 1987.
Meyer and Athletic Director Jeremy Foley came to an agreement on the resignation Tuesday. On Wednesday, the university released a statement from Meyer, which reads in part:
“I have been a Division I football coach for the last 25 years and, during that time, my primary focus has been helping my teams win titles. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and I am a fierce competitor to my core. At this time in my life, however, I appreciate the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field. The decision to step down was a difficult one.
“But after spending more than two decades motivating and celebrating the young men I’ve been so proud to coach, I relish the opportunity to cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports. I know how fortunate I am to be in a position to make this choice and to have a family that is as loving and supportive as my amazing wife and children have always been.”
Meyer will remain the Gators’ head coach for the Outback Bowl, which Florida will participate in on New Year’s Day. After that, Meyer will walk away from the program to which he gave six seasons. During that tenure, Meyer won two National Championships and three SEC East titles.
According to FanHouse's Brett McMurphy, Urban Meyer is stepping down as the head coach to the University of Florida's football team. (Yes, again.) The official announcement is expected to come in a press conference at 5 p.m. EST Wednesday evening.
If reports are true, this would not be the first time that Meyer has stepped down. Last December, Meyer announced he would resign as Florida's head coach following a health scare earlier in the month (Meyer went to the hospital with chest pains and was released later the same day on Dec. 6). At the time, he said, "I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family."
However, the next day, Meyer changed his attitude and his resignation became just a leave of absence. He coached the Gators in the Sugar Bowl on Jan . 1, a win over Cincinnati, and by March 17, he has completely resumed his duties as Florida's head coach.
Meyer took over at Florida in 2005 after two years at Utah. He led the Gators to two national championships, in 2006 and then again in 2008.
Plenty more as it develops here in this StoryStream and at our Florida blog, Alligator Army.