Urban Meyer has resigned as the head football coach at the University of Florida. It goes without saying that Meyer, a giant in his field and probably the best coach in the game (Saban is a better recruiter, Carroll was and will again be a better motivator, but Meyer is and was the whole package), will be missed as the head coach. His two national championships during six seasons with the Gators helped transform it into a top-five program, so there will be no shortage of big names lining up to replace him.
Wanting to spend time with his family is the stated reason. His health, such a big problem that he (briefly) resigned last year, has to be a big factor. He can’t be himself without going full throttle, and he can’t go full throttle without killing himself, so really, this is the decision he was building towards last year but couldn’t follow through. His reign at Florida hasn’t been without fault — the arrest record stands out, as does this season’s big decline without Tim Tebow in the backfield — but he is still going out on top, without years of decline, middling seasons, late December bowl games and the inevitable retirement and return with a lesser program to prove He’s Still Got It. He is going out having proven he’s the best and altering the pecking order in the sport, and there’s not much more a guy could do.
(It need not be said, but if online chatter that has him going to the Denver Broncos is true — and I doubt it, because he needs a lower-pressure job, not a higher-stress job, and also he was talking about this last weekend and Denver’s job only opened on Monday, and why would Denver take another chance on a highly-touted coach with no NFL head coaching experience? — that would be disheartening. I don’t believe it, so I write this under the belief that he is stepping down for health reasons.)
So who replaces him? Expect names like Jon Gruden and the like bandied about, but that won’t happen.Don’t expect a coordinator to get the bump to head coach here, because it didn’t work out so well last time (Zook). This is a prime job, much better than it was after Spurrier left in 2001. Meyer announcing this right now means Florida has first crack at the elite coaching prospects. The two names that are going to come up often are Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong, both former coordinators under Meyer who are now doing well with decent programs (Mississippi State and Louisville, respectively). They are the two best bets, since they know the program, know the region and can recruit. But Jeremy Foley could also head further out to seek out coaches like Chris Petersen or, ugh, Bobby Petrino. But this is not a gig people will use to get their name out (see: Gruden and Miami). This is one of the prime jobs in the field. Should be interesting.