In what can only be described as a somber yet hope-filled press conference, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer told reporters he believes deep down inside that he will return to the sidelines in 2010. “I do, in my gut, believe that will happen,” Meyer said.
Though Meyer shied away from answering any questions about his health, he did admit that his chest pains have been a worry for the last four years and gotten progressively worse over time. “It’s chest pains – they became rather significant two years ago,” Meyer explained. “I was advised that I have to get this right or it could lead to damage.” Asked if his personality or job was leading to the issues, Meyer responded “yes” as those in attendance laughed. He added that he was not sure whether or not he would need a procedure. “That’s something I am going to find out as well,” Meyer said.
Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio will be named interim coach of the team after Meyer takes a leave following the 2010 Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats, Meyer confirmed during the press conference. “It’s full speed ahead,” he said. “We are going to do everything possible to win this game.”
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley sat next to Meyer on the stage and had plenty to say about his coach’s personality and future. “Our primary concern is coach Meyer and his health, getting him fixed,” Foley said. “He will have the opportunity to do that.” Pressed about Meyer’s contractual status and imminent future, Foley looked a bit puzzled at the question. “He is the head coach of the University of Florida,” Foley quipped. “The head coach of the University of Florida is taking a leave of absence.”
Though Foley offered Meyer the “leave of absence” solution a week to 10 days ago when the subject was first broached, it was not considered an option until Meyer got on the practice field early Sunday and saw how hard his staff and players were working. “I’ve accepted this offer to improve my health,” he said. “I want to make sure I do right by my family. My second family is my players and my staff.” Meyer said the main reason for his change of heart is simply “the love that I have for these players.”
Meyer also noted that the way he coaches could have much to do with how he has been feeling recently, seeing as he blames himself when a player flunks a class or gets in trouble or when the team loses a big game. “I have to learn to delegate and function,” he said. “I [have] lived a 30-year coaching career in nine years. I cannot do that. I’m not very smart.” Foley agreed with some of Meyer’s comments. “Urban Meyer is very very successful because of how he has done things. Part of this process is evaluating how he has been doing things.” The Gators’ AD added that he wants Meyer to keep his style and edge but figure out a way to continue coaching with less stress and anxiety.
Seniors quarterback Tim Tebow and linebacker Ryan Stamper sat besides Meyer up on the podium. Both recounted Meyer telling them he loved them during Saturday practice, noting that something did not seem well. “I knew something wasn’t right,” Tebow said. “We just want what’s best for our dad – coach Meyer.” Stamper told a similar story. “I could see it in coach Meyer’s face that something was wrong,” he said. “He told me he loved me, I told him I loved him back.”
Tebow commended Meyer for both his initial choice and change of mind. “I admire him for the decisions he’s made,” Tebow said. “As a team we support him, as Gator Nation we support him. I think he’s making the best decision.”
While the last few weeks have been tough for him, Meyer reiterated his dedication to UF and the Gators. Asked if he thought about leaving, getting healthy and then returning to coach at another school, Meyer scoffed. “It would be a travesty – it would be ridiculous to feel good again, throw on some other colors and go coach. I will always be a Gator and represent the Gators.”
Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer, who announced Saturday night that he was stepping down from his position, has changed his mind and decided to take an indefinite leave of absence instead, according to numerous sources. Meyer will coach the Gators in the 2010 Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats before ceding the job to offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, who will be named interim coach in his stead. Adazzio confirmed this arrangement in a telephone interview with The New York Times.
Meyer’s change of heart began Sunday morning, when he was at an early practice on campus at the University of Florida watching his players. He spoke with the team before their plane departed for New Orleans, LA, and informed them of the news, which was greeted with relief and excitement sources say. Even with this decision, Meyer returning to Florida is not imminent – he could still decide to step away at any time if he feels coming back is not in the best interest of his health and well-being.
“There’s no guarantees here,” a source told the Associated Press. “He could still walk away. He’s got some significant concerns about his health and his tank and his family. But instead of cutting the cord, he’s going to take a step back and see how he feels.”
The Independent Florida Alligator is reporting that “there has been no timetable set on his return, though [a] source said it could be as early as next season.” Mark Schlabach of ESPN made a similar report, stating that “Meyer [...] would take a leave of absence and return to the team before the 2010 season” in a proposed situation. However, a source close to the program told ESPN‘s Chris Mortensen that “Meyer would take a leave of absence for the entirety of the 2010 season.”
Athletic director Jeremy Foley gave Meyer an option to take a leave of absence approximately a week to 10 days ago when the two first spoke about the possibility of Meyer stepping down. Though he did not consider it an option then, apparently he has changed his mind since.
OGGOA will continue updating this story as more information is made available. Meyer is set to hold a press conference in New Orleans Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (EST). It will also air live online here.
Aside from having to hire a new head coach after Urban Meyer‘s shocking resignation, one of the most immediate issues facing the Florida Gators football program in 2010 is retaining recruits from one of the top incoming classes in the country. With 20 recruits currently verbally committed to the Gators and plenty more considering their commitment one way or another, losing Meyer will almost certainly a blow to the team’s recruiting – how big of a blow is yet to be determined. Numerous sources including Rivals, GatorCountry, the Palm Beach Post, the Orlando Sentinel, the Gainesville Sun and the Sporting News have spoken with these recruits over the past few hours, and OGGOA has compiled some information on where each of them stand.
Because the list is so long, it is best to view it after the jump!!!
Continue Reading » Meyer’s decision stuns Gators 2010 recruits
Much has already been said about Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s resignation, and it has only been hours since he has decided to step down from the program. Many of Meyer’s players, former players, peers and friends have already released statements about their thoughts and feelings about the situation.
Check out the sporting world’s reaction to Meyer’s announcement after the jump!!!
Continue Reading » Sporting world reacts to Meyer’s resignation
With the shock of the resignation of Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer still ringing through the ears of Gator Nation, one of the major questions arising is a simple one: “Who will replace him?” OGGOA has complied a list of the most likely and most rumored candidates that could replace Meyer:
Check out the full list of potential replacements after the jump!!!
Continue Reading » Who will replace Urban Meyer as head coach?
University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley announced Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer will be stepping down after coaching the team in the 2010 Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Meyer, 45, who was hospitalized with chest pains after the 2009 SEC Championship, has had concerns about his health for years. A school source has told ESPN that “Meyer has been to the hospital at least twice since suffering chest pains after the SEC title game” and that “the heart problems are stress related, not congenital.” Numerous rumors state Meyer may have had a heart attack.
In 1998, while he was an assistant with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Meyer experienced head pains that led doctors to discover a non-life-threatening arachnoid cyst on his brain. Though it did not put him in immediate danger, the cyst could flare up because of stress – something that happened while he was head coach of the Utah Utes. If stress is the key component at work with Meyer’s health problems, his decision to retire becomes even more clear.
“I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program,” Meyer said in statement released to the press. “I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family. After consulting with my family, [university president] Dr. [Bernie] Machen, Jeremy Foley and my doctors, I believe it is in my best interest to step aside and focus on my health and family.
“I’m proud to be a part of the Gainesville community and the Gator Nation and I plan to remain in Gainesville and involved with the University of Florida. I’m very appreciative for the opportunity I’ve had to be a part of a tremendous institution – from Dr. Machen to Jeremy Foley and the entire administrative staff at UF. I’m also very thankful for the chance to work with some of the best assistants in college football and coach some of the best college football players and watch them grow both on and off the field as people. I will cherish the relationships with them the most.”
According to Pete Thamel of the New York Times, Meyer suffered severe chest pains while sleeping after the Alabama game. He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, “underwent more than nine hours of testing” and was scared for his life after losing consciousness. Though he has “suffered from severe chest pains the past two years,” these were particularly frightening. Meyer continued testing after returning to Gainesville.
On Christmas Eve, Meyer told his family that he would be resigning. “I saw it as a sign from God that this was the right thing to do,” is how Meyer said he felt when his 18-year-old daughter Nicki was overjoyed to find out he was returning home. “I was worried about letting people down. I was feeling so awful and concerned about my health. That was among several other signs that said it’s time to back away.”
For now, Meyer’s focus is solely on the Sugar Bowl. “I just want to win this game for these players and make sure that the University of Florida is in good shape,” Meyer said. “I haven’t even thought about anything after that, other than I’m a Gator and I’ll always be a Gator.” Meyer also told the Times that the team cried but took the news well. “I was very concerned about that. They were awesome. They stayed 45 minutes afterward.”
Foley and Machen also made statements about Meyer’s resignation.
“Coach Meyer and I have talked this through and I realize how hard this was for him to reach this decision,” Foley said. “But, the bottom line is that Coach Meyer needed to make a choice that is in the best interest of his well being and his family. I certainly appreciate what he has meant to the University of Florida, our football program and the Gator Nation. I have never seen anyone more committed to his players, his family and his program. Above all, I appreciate our friendship.”
“Urban Meyer’s integrity, work ethic and commitment to his players are some of the reasons we asked him to become head football coach at the University of Florida,” Machen said. “As a Gator, Urban has done everything we asked of him and more. He leaves a lasting legacy on the field, in the classroom and in the Gainesville community. I am saddened that Urban is stepping down but I have deep respect for his decision.”
Meyer leaves Florida with a 56-10 record (32-8 SEC), a school-record 22-game winning streak, two BCS National Championships and two SEC Championships. His .841 career winning percentage (95-18) is the highest among active coaches with at least five years experience, and he is the only current coach to win two BCS titles.
“I love Coach Meyer,” senior quarterback Tim Tebow said in a statement released Saturday evening. “The past four years he has been my dad away from home. We will always have a father-son relationship for the rest of our lives. Coach loves the university, his players and the fans. I believe he has made the right decision for him and his family. He will always be loved by me and the Gator faithful.”
Meyer will host a press conference in New Orleans, LA, at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Florida sports information director Steve McClain has said that Meyer will not only stay on in a non-coaching role for the Gators, but that he will also be heavily involved in the hiring of his successor.
- McClain also said that reports of Meyer having a defective heart muscle and an unreported heart attack are incorrect.
- ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Foley was aware of Meyer’s thoughts about resigning for a week.
- Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel reports that the Gators tried to keep Meyer by offering him time off.
- ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit says Meyer sounded “devastated” when the two spoke earlier.
- In a completely unconfirmed report, WKMG television in Orlando, FL, is reporting that Meyer suffered a heart attack during the season. Station sports director David Pingalore also is also reporting that Meyer did not inform anyone about the issue.
- OGGOA source: Meyer may have had a heart attack upon his return to Gainesville after the SEC Championship.
- A source has told Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun that Meyer “just doesn’t have anything left in the tank” and “had been considering leaving coaching for more than a week, going back and forth on the decision.”
- Dooley said players were brought to tears when Meyer gathered the team.
- ESPN’s Pat Forde: Former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, who was just recently hired as the Louisville Cardinals head coach, has only signed a term sheet with the University of Louisville and not yet a contract. The school’s media relations director, Rocco Gasparro, has confirmed this fact.
OGGOA will update this breaking news story as more is made available.
1 » For as bleak as the rest of this season may look for the Florida Gators basketball team, its future is as bright as ever. That is because head coach Billy Donovan has already received verbal commitments from two five-star shooting guards for 2011 – Bradley Beal (St. Louis, MO) and Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL). Though Rivers is also being pursued heavily by the Duke Blue Devils, he has reaffirmed his commitment to the Gators and continues to show Florida exactly why they want him so bad. Leading Winter Park High School in the 38th City of Palms Classic on Wednesday, Rivers was named the tournament MVP (for the second straight year), totaling 72 points in the two final games (45 points in the semifinals and 27 in the championship). In last year’s event, Rivers led his team to three upset victories over top 10 ranked teams and scored 46 points in the third-place game. He averaged 28 points per game in the 2009 CPC.
2 » Former Gators wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales has already gotten to work at his new job of passing game coordinator with the LSU Tigers, and he is implementing some of Florida’s strategies in order to make LSU’s spreading the field more smooth and efficient. “We’ve already kind of changed some of the concepts for what we do – pass concepts,” Gonzales told The Shreveport Times. “Any way we can make the pass game a little bit smoother. How can I help [offensive coordinator Gary] Crowton with the development of getting our players on and off the field quicker and making sure to expedite the play call. Anything I can do to help them in the process to make sure everything is a little bit quicker, a little bit smoother.”