Florida Gators Press Conference: Urban Meyer steps down as head football coach

By Adam Silverstein
December 8, 2010

University of Florida president Bernie Machen, athletic director Jeremy Foley and Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer spoke with the media at 6 p.m. on Wednesday to officially announce and discuss Meyer’s decision to resign his position with the university effective immediately. In what seemed to be a bittersweet moment for everyone involved, Meyer left the Gators because he desired to spend more time with his family and children. Below are some notes and quotes from Wednesday’s press conference from all parties involved.

PRESIDENT BERNIE MACHEN

On Meyer’s other accomplishments: “Do you know that 86 of his players have already graduated from the university and another nine will graduate this weekend in our winners’ ceremony? Our football graduation success rate is No. 2 in the SEC – something he is very proud of and something I am very proud of as well. He’s also an outstanding member of our community. He and his family have been exemplary members of the Gainesville community.”

On hiring Meyer: “Urban was hired because of his commitment to excellence, because of his integrity and his commitment to his players. In every dimension he’s exceeded everything we could have hoped for as he carried out his duties here at the University of Florida. He took us to a new level. A level that will maybe be reached again but never exceeded. He leaves a lasting legacy at the University of Florida. We’re so proud of him and what he’s accomplished and the way he’s done so. He’s a true Gator.”

On Meyer’s future and legacy with Florida: “We’re hopeful he will remain with us in some capacity after he’s through coaching, but whatever he does we’re so proud to call him one of our own, and we’re so proud to say what he’s done for this university and this community.”

HEAD COACH URBAN MEYER

Opening statement: “Thanks for coming today. I appreciate Dr. Machen’s remarks. He has been tremendously supportive of myself and my family for over the last seven years. I have great love for the University of Florida, and I am very proud of what Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley – how they have helped us what we have accomplished here at the University of Florida. I’m stepping down as football coach at the University of Florida to focus on family and my other interests away from the sidelines.”

Read the rest of Urban Meyer’s press conference – along with what Jeremy Foley had to say about the coaching search – after the break…

On when he made decision: “Last year was a wake-up call. Early this week I got a visit with Jeremy about some thoughts I was having and then made the decision just yesterday.”

On if he will coach again: “I’ll think about that later. Immediacy? No.”

On if he regrets coming back for the 2010 season: “No, I love Florida. I got the best bosses in the country. We got a great staff. That was a knee-jerk reaction to a situation, and the timing was not right. I don’t know if timing’s ever perfect, but at least this way they get a new coach on board, help recruiting and move forward.”

On why retiring this year is different than last year: “Last year was a knee-jerk reaction. A lot of emotion in our family. We have a very tight-knit family. My daughter came home from college and found out what happened, and you can only imagine for those of you that have children. This year was just completely different. I’m doing what’s best for the University of Florida, for our players and for obviously myself and our family.”

Why? “Why? Sometimes we make it far too complex. At the end of the day, I’m very convinced that you’re going to be judged as a husband, as a father not how many bowl games we won. I’ve not seen my two girls play high school sports. They’re both very talented Division I-A volleyball players. So I missed those four years. I missed two already of one away at college. I was blessed with a family that never missed anything, so I can’t get that time back. I made a commitment to them when we came here: I was going to make sure they graduate from the same high school – we’ve done that. I made a commitment to them recently that I’m going to enjoy the best years of their life, and that’s right now.”

On the impact on recruiting: “That’s the tough part. I talked to a handful of them already. I’m going to make a bunch of calls here tonight and tomorrow. Florida’s Florida. Florida always will be Florida. Even last year with the issues we put together a great class. We have great coaches here. I’m sure the coaching candidates will be fantastic, and we just got to get moving.”

On if he will help with the coaching search: “Absolutely I’ll help. Full-speed ahead.”

On if health concerns are the reason again: “To say there wasn’t a scare? That would be incorrect. But that’s not the reason for this press conference here today.”

On why he changed his mind about staying since claiming he would fix everything after the Florida State game: “It has to be fixed. It’s broke a little bit right now. The way you fix it is hard work. When I say “broke,” it’s broke because of a constant attrition of coaches who, God bless them, they’ve gone on to be great head coaches. I’ve obviously been very fortunate to have the best coaches in America. It’s Florida. We’ll be back strong, in my opinion, stronger than ever. We have the facilities; we have everything in place now to do that. It’s going to be a great young team. It’s not like a bareknuckles situation we’re in.”

On his family: “My best friend is up in Georgia Tech, and my other best friend is a high school senior.”

On if it is hard to leave after a down season: “I just think Florida deserves the best, and I’m not sure we gave them our best this year. But there’s never perfect timing [to leave].”

On the support he has received: “I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate what this university has done for myself and my family. I’ve got about 175 text messages and a good chunk were from Ryan Stamper and some of the great players I’ve had the fortune of coaching here. To think what they have built. It’s kind of cool to walk around the stadium and see… Well, we didn’t build it. We kind of built upon what they did in the 90’s and the great tradition. You look at the ’06 team, they will go down as one of the most overachieving, hard working teams you’ve ever had. The ’08 team, in my opinion – I’m a little biased, they’ll probably go down as one of the great teams in college football history. You look at the statistics of that team, it’s hard to say that’s not one of the top three or four teams in the history of the game. A lot of great memories and very proud of what we’ve done.”

On why he changed his mind last year: “I changed my mind as far as staff – and our players. Most of our decisions have always been about that. The timing for my boss was not appropriate, was not a good time. There’s not a perfect time; however, this is probably about as good a time as you can.”

On if he foresaw this drop-off in offense: “I saw a drop-off. *A* drop-off. I did not see THE drop-off that we had. There’s a multitude of reasons from injuries to lack of execution to whatever. But there were a lot of reasons.”

On if the struggles are the reason he left: “No. Not at all. Not at all. You can fix struggles. If it was a different timing in my family’s lives [that’s another story]. If they weren’t involved in sports, involved in all the things that a dad should be at, then it might be different. I want to make it clear: that’s it. That’s the reason.”

On his involvement with his family now: “I’m going to put a resume together and I’m going to try to be a Gatorball assistant baseball coach in the spring. I’ve not put a resume together in a long time.”

ATHLETIC DIRECTOR JEREMY FOLEY

On his admiration for Meyer: “I’ve watched him with admiration every day as he built this program to what it is today. I saw the efforts, I saw the dedication, I saw the commitment, I saw the competitiveness, and like I said I watched with admiration because he came here with a goal and he built it and he did it. His commitment to UF was unmatched. His commitment to his student-athletes was unmatched. And we had a heck of a ride together.”

On hiring Meyer: “When he and I met in Utah six years ago, he spent as much time talking about the environment here as he did about anything else. What kind of environment would be here? What he wanted was a foxhole environment where they were all in there together moving towards the same goal. And it was my privilege to be in that foxhole with him. It was my staff’s privilege to be in there with him. He appreciated us being in there with him. He always made it clear that whatever success we had here was not him alone.”

On Meyer as a person: “More than anything else I’ll remember and treasure forever his friendship. He and I are joined at the hip in some form or fashion and we’ll always be that way. It’ll always be that way.”

On if an offer has been made to a coach: “That’s just stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth.” Foley added that he understands the speculation but promises the job has not been offered to anyone and will not be in the near future.

On searching for a coach: “Coaching searches – you got to get in front of them. You need to find out if they’re a fit. Not just can they coach, but are they a fit for this institution, for this community, for this athletic program? And likewise, are we a fit for them? It’s got to happen face-to-face. And we’re going to do that.”

On the ease of finding a new coach: “The job that Urban’s left here, we’ll have a large number of candidates.”

On how Meyer leaving affects him: “For me personally it’s an OK day, because I know Urban is OK. I know he’s at peace with his decision, and I know the University of Florida is going to be fine. Good things come to an end sometimes, that’s what happens in this world. We’ve been blessed for six years to have this guy coaching this team being a part of this university. And we’ll always be blessed because that happened.”

On how long it will take to find a new coach: “I think two weeks, two-and-a-half weeks I think would be the outside. I don’t see any reason it should take longer than that. I’m confident we get this done in two, two-and-a-half weeks. We got to go, but I think that’s realistic.”

On if he would wait for a coach to lead his team in a bowl game: “That will not be an issue for us at all. You want to leave the right way and coaching a team you’ve coached since August in an important bowl game, we’d definitely be respectful of that.”

On the difference between Meyer leaving this time and last year: “This was a totally different situation. His life was in a different place a year ago. Turmoil was evident. My office is next to him. I’ve seen how he’s been this year, and I’ve seen the efforts he’s put forward this year. And I know this is not a knee-jerk reaction to being 7-5. Trust me, he’s at peace with his life, his family and what he wants to do. I didn’t try to talk him out of it, and I didn’t put that pressure on him.”

On Meyer’s legacy: “You’re talking about one of the best coaches in the history of the game.”

On if Meyer’s replacement must have head coaching experience: “Not necessarily. I think the slate’s clean right now. This is a tough job, so if you haven’t been a head coach, you’re going to have to be pretty special. […] We will get together and we will compile that list. To shorten it at this time would not make any sense.”

On why Meyer is different from other coaches family-wise: “Urban has made it clear from day one when we were talking in Utah for the first time. It was Shelley and it was Nate and it was Nicki and it was Gigi. He’s worked his tail off. He built one at Bowling Green, he built one at Utah, he built one here. It’s not just sacrifices here the last six years. What is that? Ten years of their lives? It’s his time to step back and spend time with his family, because you’re not getting it back. I admire him for that.”

On what he will miss about Meyer: “[Smiling] He owes me a Christmas vacation from last year and now he’s going to owe me another one. He’ll be home drinking egg nog and I’m going to be out on an airplane somewhere. I’ll miss him as our football coach. I’ll miss the fact that I don’t get to go work with him every day. He won’t be there. He’s been there for six years. I’ve walked in there and we’ve talked about a million different things: good things, tough things, funny things, but he won’t be there anymore.”

On this being his third football coaching search: “The first time and – no disrespect to… – I didn’t know what I was doing. I’m not talking about the end result, I’m talking about the interest, the scrutiny. People tracking airplanes. I had no clue. I have a great staff and I’m going to have some staff people help me on this search. I’m not doing this by myself.”

9 Comments

  1. SaraGator says:

    Good press conference!

    Foley had said that no man can maintain the pace that Urban was on. And, he was correct. I give Coach Meyer a lot of credit for making the decision to step down.

    University of Florida will always be a top program in the country. Some years we are #1, other years we may drop down to #10. Thank goodness we have the best athletic director in the country; he had said that Spurrior’s abrupt resignation taught him a lesson – He will always keep a fresh list of potential head coaches. It wouldn’t surprise to read later on that he had already made the first move to hiring a coach. Remember…. both Notre Dame and Florida wanted Urban. And, we won…

  2. montanagator says:

    should have left last year.. thanks for bringin in tim and turnin him loose, ..why say your going to b bak 100% a week or 2 ago and the rebuild it right thing and then quit a few weeks later leaving the team in a mess and making a straight up liar of yourself, not a good way to go out. lets get the boise guy or maybe the tcu or oregon guy or mike leach or even the auburn coach. dont go with any of the past rats who jumpd ship like strong or mullen or spurrier, ok mayb spurriers not a rat but hes washd up and only won in 96 cuz of danny, get some new blood..go gators, foley should b on a plane tonite instead of givin interviews..

  3. GG says:

    Never a dull moment in Gator Nation.

  4. john s says:

    I liked what foley had to say. This is when he earns his salary. If meyers heart wasn’t going to be in it then it was time for him to leave, so I’m glad he made the right decision. The team was really unprepared this year. You have to be high energy and passionate to win in the south. Hopefully multiple high caliber candidates will recognize that they can win championships here and seize the chance.

  5. armygator says:

    montanagator, I guess you are entitled to your opinion. As they say, opinions are like ###holes, everyone has one and they all stink (yours just a little more). What was wrong with Mullen and Strong leaving? They got head coaching jobs, the epitome of coaching and a tribute to the program from where they came from. Meyer has the right to make the decision he did. I would rather not have a coach that isn’t 100% committed or able to commit. He did great things for UF and deserves accolades for that. But, as I said, you are entitled to your opinion.

  6. g8ter27 says:

    Mullen will bethe next UF coach. It is a perfect fitand the only one that makes sense. Nike will notlet Chip Kelly go and Mullen will be just as good if not better. I just hope he keeps addazio on board……a train out of town.

  7. Gatorgrad79 says:

    Adam – if Urb told Foley on Saturday, what is the probability that Foley has already talked to at least one or more prospects??? We cannot afford to leave things hanging for 3 weeks!! Keeping the recruits is primary ( I still think Charlie Strong will be great for recruiting and can get into the southFla/Dade stronghold that the u has had for so long)

  8. mullen is the right fit…..period……but stoops would be good also…..it would be fun to see stoops coach against his brother at fsu……wish urban well…..it was a great ride….

  9. Wingtee says:

    His
    brother from FSU would be a Gator if Stoops came
    here

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