Less than a month after he officially ceased being the head coach of the Florida Gators, Urban Meyer has agreed to begin a new form of employment. He will start working as an on-air college football analyst with ESPN beginning Wednesday, the company announced on a conference call Monday.
“Football has played an extremely important role in my life for the past 25 years and ESPN has given me an incredible opportunity to join its world-class team and share my passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm for the game with fans across the country,” said Meyer in a press release.
Meyer, who joined ESPN‘s coverage of the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl and 2011 BCS National Championship and did on-air work for FOX during the 2008 BCS National Championship, has never been a prominently featured television personality before.
“Coach Meyer brings a fresh voice and a contemporary knowledge of the game,” ESPN executive vice president of production Norby Williamson said. “As he showed during BCS coverage, his ability to communicate the strategic aspects of the game and his incredible track record for success will serve college football fans everywhere.”
From ESPN’s press release:
Former University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer, who won two BCS National Championships in six years, will join ESPN as a college football game and studio analyst. He will make his debut Wednesday, Feb. 2 as a studio analyst during ESPNU’s 10-hour ESPNU National Signing Day Special.
As part of the agreement, Meyer will work a weekly regular-season game (specific assignment to be determined) and select post-season bowl games. He will also provide studio analysis throughout the year on ESPN’s daily College Football Live program; NFL Draft, spring games; and bowl games, including during the network’s on-site BCS coverage.
In addition, Meyer will contribute to ESPN’s popular Saturday morning College GameDay Built by The Home Depot series (from his game site), make weekly appearances on ESPN Radio, and provide analysis on SportsCenter and additional ESPN outlets.
Meyer cited spending time with his family as the main reason he stepped away from his job with Florida. He explained Monday that his duties, though they might sound broad, will only keep him away from home for short periods of time each week.
“In the offseason it’s going to be minimal. During the season it’s going to be the weekend – Friday and Saturday,” he said. “It’s going to be different than what I’m used to the past 25 years.”
Even though he resigned from his job as the Gators head coach, Meyer was given an office inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium by athletic director Jeremy Foley and is expected to continue working with Florida while holding this television job. He shed a bit of light on those responsibilities Monday.
“I’m going to work directly with Jeremy in the foundation and help in that aspect,” he said. “The depth I will assist Florida has not been finalized yet. It will have no impact on what I do with ESPN.”
When it all comes down to it, Meyer will have to analyze the Gators at times on television. However, his new responsibilities will not change his passion for the program.
“I will be very respectful of Florida, very respectful of the game,” he said when asked how it will feel to comment on his old school. “I think we have a great coach. I’m a Florida fan. And I’m not going to be ashamed of that.”
CONFERENCE CALL QUOTES (After the break…)
Williamson on Meyer’s signing: “We’ve got a very successful and very relevant head coach who understands the game, has been unbelievably successful, understands the challenges of the current college game.”
Williamson on what Meyer brings: “He’ll take viewers inside that game from his perspective.”
Williamson on a conflict of interest: “From ESPN’s perspective, transparency is what we’re going to have obviously with the viewers. With somebody who’s been as successful as Urban has, everybody knows the success he’s had at Florida.”
Williamson on Meyer covering Florida: “We haven’t gotten that far as it relates to games or game assignments. There’s going to be no moratorium or ‘Let’s not talk Florida.’ We have somebody stepping out of that program with an unbelievable amount of access and insight not only to that program but to the SEC.”
Williamson on Meyer criticizing the Gators: “Urban brings an incredible amount of insight and access to the SEC and to the Florida program. We’re not going to ban Urban from talking about SEC or Florida. The key is to have transparency with the audience, let them know he was the Florida head coach. We won’t have to do a lot to talk about that. Clearly we’re going to use his expertise in that area of the country, in that conference.”
Williamson on Meyer’s contract: “We’re committed to Urban, he’s committed to us and we believe he’ll be here for a long time to come.”
Meyer on his family’s sentiments: “They’re fired up. They’re excited because I’m still going to be able to spend as much time as I would have hoped. They’re very excited about it.”
Meyer on working live games: “That will be new. That’s something I’ll work at – very hard.”
Meyer on if this new job will re-energize him: “I’m hoping that’s the case. When I traveled to the BCS game in Glendale, I walked away saying it was a lot of fun. It was a great way to stay close to the game and work with some fantastic people. I’m not sure fun is the appropriate word, but it’s a good way to stay around the game, enjoy myself and be an ambassador for the great game of college football.”
Meyer on National Signing Day: “As a football coach, it drives you insane what goes on Wednesday.”
Meyer said he discussed a job like this with Lou Holtz and Jon Gruden both “throughout the year” and “more recently.”
Meyer on not taking a year off: “Yeah, there was a lot of thought to that. That’s part of the reason why I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go try something over at the national championship week. What I have found out is, there’s a lot of time and I don’t sit around very well and I want to stay around college football. I was really hoping something like this would materialize after the national championship game.”
Photo Credit: ESPN