Former Florida Gators head coach now ESPN analyst and color commentator Urban Meyer participated in a teleconference with the network on Thursday and spoke at length about his former team as well as his mindset not being on the sidelines this year. He also touched on some subjects (such as using a two-quarterback system in 2006 and John Brantley’s struggles in 2010) that pertained to his time with the Gators. Below are some excerpts of the conference call that are informative and relate specifically to Florida.
Q. – Urban, I had a question for you about the way you used Leak and Tebow in 2006 I was curious how that process evolved, how maybe easy or difficult it was to commit to it, and how did the team respond to it when they first saw the design?
URBAN MEYER: It was not something we went into the season planning because we really didn’t know what we had with Tim. You don’t know until you get into the game atmosphere, and his value we learned rather quickly. So it evolved throughout the course of the year.
It was a very fragile situation and very unique where if you don’t have character guys that are playing that position, you can see where it could become a locker room issue or become a chemistry issue. The parents were fantastic. You’re talking about a quarterback at Florida, which is a very high profile position, on a team that had a chance to be really good. So it was incredible to work with two guys that are built like Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. There was absolutely no ego, there was no anything other than what’s good for the team, and their families were on board, and the team really bought into it, as well, too.
Like Chris made a comment, which is if we didn’t win then it probably would have been chaos, but winning cures all evils, and we won a lot of games and we had one stumble and that was against Auburn. But to see that team rally back from that, and really both quarterbacks were a major, major part of that.
Read the rest of what Urban Meyer had to say on Thursday…after the jump!
Q. – Once you got to the middle of the season, were you still fine tuning when you brought Tebow in? Was it kind of an evolution type thing?
URBAN MEYER: It was during the course of a game. And you talk about one of the most enjoyable times of coaching, because really no one had done it at the time, the spread offense, single lane offense we were in with Tim was so unique compared to Chris Leak, and Greg [Mattison] was our defensive coordinator at the time and Charlie Strong, and I would always go to their room and say here’s what I’m thinking of doing, and I could tell their reaction, like oh, no; if it was going to be a thorn in the side of the defense we were going to do it.
So a lot of our game plans were done as a result of what our defensive coaches said would be darn near impossible to prepare for two styles of offenses, so that’s how that came about.
Q. A couple questions for Urban. How much have you thought about next week you’ll be at a game but you won’t be on the sideline, won’t be coaching and thought about what Florida will be doing without you here? Have you thought about it or has it weighed on you?
URBAN MEYER: Sure, it’s weighing on me real heavy. It’s also — but Coach Muschamp has been great to myself and I’ve been around there and talked to him, talked to the coaches, so I think Florida is going to be one of the most underrated teams to come out because I think they’re loaded. The offensive line, and if they can — if John Brantley gets some help at receiver and their running backs stay healthy. I think they’ll be very good. The defense is going to be outstanding with those young defensive linemen.
Q. – Can you kind of explain what he [John Brantley] went through last year? It seemed like his confidence really by the end of the season took a hit and he’s maybe got a little bit of that back going into this year. Can you just explain what that season was like for him?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, it was tough. The quarterback is the guy that’s going to get if they lose all their running backs this year and their tight end gets hurt and their fullback gets hurt, I think they’re going to struggle on offense, as well. If Jeff Demps and Rainey don’t play for most of the season, if their fullback doesn’t play, and then if Jordan Reed gets hurt like he was last year, I think they’re going to struggle.
But I think from what I’ve heard that those guys are all playing well, they’re all healthy and they’re going to be good. So I think a quarterback is the product of the guys around him, and if he lacks confidence in the guys around him he loses confidence himself. That was a very difficult situation for John last year.
Q. – Did that happen last year where kind of things didn’t go right around him, and it wore on him by where you guys were in November and kind of struggling there at the end?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, my gosh, yeah. Every day was — he’s such a good person and good guy that we were just trying to pick him up and trying to do the things — we made a big deal about he’s not a running quarterback, and he’s not. But to be an I formation or on your center quarterback, there are certain components you need to have your offense, and that’s running back and tight end and fullback. Obviously the injury bug and disciplinary issue at the tailback position just wiped that position completely out for about eight games, and then not having a tight end really in the program because the guy we were counting on was hurt and then we had to move him to quarterback to overtake the issue at running back.
So it all — at the end of the day it all affects the guy that’s the trigger guy, and that’s the quarterback, because he’s the face of the offense. And when the offense is struggling for whatever reason, it puts a lot on the quarterback.
Q. – You mentioned earlier that you’ve thought about going through the season not coaching, but do you miss it at all? Is there anything about it that you miss, or are you kind of really happy with what you’re doing right now?
URBAN MEYER: Well, my two daughters are starting Division IA volleyball players, and so tomorrow I’m going to go watch [Gigi] play twice and then one up on Saturday, and my wife is going to be at Georgia Tech watching the [Nicki] start, and I’m getting to watch seven of eight of my son’s football games this year, so that part overweighs the sincere missing of coaching. I miss it horribly, but it’s the right time to do what I’m doing, and that’s working at ESPN and watching my kids play.
Q. – Urban, for you, your name always seems to get linked to [the Ohio State] job, and I’m just wondering if you feel yourself getting back into coaching at some point in life and if you would ever be interested in that job.
URBAN MEYER: I’m in a little bit of an evaluation phase in my life, also. I’m trying not to look too far in advance. There’s a big part of me that hopes I love what I’m doing and really enjoy witnessing some of the things of my kids growing up. But I do miss coaching very badly. So I don’t know. I’m not going to evaluate until it’s time to evaluate.
You can check out the entire transcript of the conference call, where Meyer also shares some thoughts on Mattison and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, by clicking here.
Photo Credit: ESPN