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.
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:
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.”
1 » The University of Florida athletic department has decided to beef up security for their team at the 2010 Sugar Bowl when the No. 5 Florida Gators take on the No. 3 Cincinnati Bearcats. Due to concerns about autograph hounds, agents and extra media attention, several additional officers and new security measures will be added to protect the team over the week they are visiting New Orleans, LA.
2 » A die-hard Gator fan, Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski proudly represents the Orange and Blue wherever he goes. His love for the team has even started a good-hearted rivalry with second baseman Gordon Beckham. This year, the competition between Pierzynski and Beckham crossed over from college football to fantasy football, where the teammates are meeting in the finals of their league.
Monday will mark the 19th day since former Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was hired away to be the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, and head coach Urban Meyer has yet to name his replacement. When then-offensive coordinator Dan Mullen split town for the Mississippi State Bulldogs head coaching gig in 2008, Meyer had his substitute (Steve Addazio) named in just over two weeks.
Whether it is because the Gators are playing their bowl game a week earlier this season or Meyer’s has a desire to prevent another distraction from hindering his team’s performance prior to the 2010 Sugar Bowl, some fans are finding the absence of an announcement about Strong’s replacement troubling.
Earlier this month, OGGOA profiled assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney and assistant defensive coordinator, safeties coach Chuck Heater – the two men on the current staff most likely to replace Strong. As time is winding down and assistants are being snatched up by programs across the country, it is looking more and more likely that one of these two will lead the Florida defense in 2010. And though Meyer was believed to be looking outside the program at first (presumably for a big-time name), recent reports and rumors indicate that Heater may very will end up earning the promotion.
SPECULATION: In addition to a tweet by Gainesville Sun beat writer Pat Dooley claiming that Heater “wants [to be defensive coordinator] bad,” rumors are circulating that Meyer has interviewed former Georgia Bulldogs defensive coordinator Willie Martinez for a position coach job. Should Martinez be hired, he would likely coach safeties, alleviating Heater of the duty. Strong’s departure also opens up the linebackers coach job, a position that could theoretically be filled by Martinez or cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford with the other taking over the entire secondary. Martinez, who is from Coral Gables, FL, and considered to be a terrific recruiter, would form a dynamic duo with Bedford when recruiting defensive players in South Florida.
1 » Florida Gators forward/center David Lee, in his fifth NBA season, is playing at an All-Star level. Averaging a career-high 18 points per game, Lee is also usually good for double-digit boards every game, putting him in the rare category of a player who averages a double-double on a nightly basis. Though New York Knicks fans have fallen in love with Lee, the organization is in danger of losing him after the season. Lee is currently on a one-year contract and is playing at a level so high that he could command top dollar after the 2009-10 season is in the books.
2 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has been dealing with migraine headaches his entire life, recently visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, NY, for further examination. According to head coach Brad Childress, Harvin had a “good” visit and is back at practice ready to play on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears. “Yeah, it’s a relief,” Harvin said after returning from his doctor’s visit. “Without going into [specifics], we had a great visit and came up with a great plan. I saw great doctors and it should be good from now on. I’m all good.” Still, Harvin’s chronic migraines continue to have his coach, teammates and Gators and Vikings fans worried.
3 » Veteran NBA writer Steve Aschburner has written a terrific piece for NBA.com on the Oh-Fours. Centering on Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford, the article suggests that he is “still the leader of [a] special group of Gators” also including Chicago Bulls F/C Joakim Noah, Minnesota Timberwolves F Corey Brewer and AEK Athens B.C. point guard Taurean Green. Aschburner’s article is an absolute must-read but here is just one quote from Horford: “We have a saying, the guys who came in with my class: ‘04’s For Life,’” Horford said. “Any time that we talk to each other or whatever, that’s always brought up. Jo will send me a text and [type it]. I’ll send the same thing to him or the other guys. We go all the way back to that. I think we’re the type of group, we’ve always been happy for each other. Back in college, we didn’t really care who was scoring 20. At the end of the day, we were winning and we were all doing it in a big way. I think we’ve kept the same attitude [in the NBA].”
4 » Looking at the most valuable teams in college sports, Forbes magazine found that the Texas Longhorns earned that distinction by raking in $59 million in profit in 2009 for a total valuation of $119 million. Behind the Longhorns, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Penn State Nittany Lions, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Alabama Crimson Tide are the Florida Gators – with a value of $88 million and $41 million in profits this year.
Arrested for DUI the Monday before the 2009 SEC Championship, junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap became a pariah in the eyes of Florida Gators fans. How could he be so stupid? How could he be so selfish? How could he do this to himself, his teammates and die-hard Gators fans? If Dunlap’s father had it his way, his son would return to the University of Florida to play football, earn his degree and – more importantly – redeem himself and his family.
“It’s a possibility,” Carlos Dunlap, Sr. told The Post and Courier. “It’s a 50-50 chance that he will come back. If it was my decision right now, I would say come back. Because we are a very prideful family. We have a tarnished name, somewhat in the eyes of so-called fans. But I really feel there is a distinct possibility he will come back because he feels like he owes his university something. There are ways you can always redeem yourself. This is not Carlos’ senior year. Carlos has another year to go in school. If he decides to come back to school, he can redeem himself and show the kind of character he has.”
Dunlap’s previously clean record and strong family values have already led head coach Urban Meyer, athletic director Jeremy Foley and university president Bernie Machen to believe in him and allow him to return to the team for the 2010 Sugar Bowl (should he meet certain criteria). But will Dunlap actually return to Gainesville, FL, if he can be a top 10 pick in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft?
Originally considered a top five pick and potentially even No. 1 overall, Dunlap’s draft projection fell after his DUI arrest brought questions about his trustworthiness. However, the situation is now out of the national spotlight, and Dunlap gets a chance to play on New Year’s Day in a BCS bowl game. Couple that exposure with a strong combine and positive recommendations from his coaches, and he could very well vault back into that top tier without having to spend another year in college. Therefore, the question is no longer if Dunlap is stupid or selfish or if his absence was just another unnecessary distraction that held the Gators back from performing at their best in Atlanta, GA.
The remaining question is simple: Is it about pride or money?
- Gymnastics (individual): Bridget Sloan (all-around)
- Track & Field (indoor, individual): Marquis Dendy (long jump), Eddie Lovett (60m hurdles)
- Swimming (individual): Elizabeth Beisel (400 IM)
Conference Championships Southeastern
- Basketball (regular season)
- Soccer (regular season)
- Soccer (tournament)
- W. Cross Country
- M. Swimming
- W. Tennis (regular season)
- W. Tennis (tournament)
- Softball (regular season)
- Swimming (individual): Elizabeth Beisel (w400y IM, w200y Back), Marcin Cieslak (m100y Fly, m200y Fly), Natalie Hinds (w100y Fly), Pawel Werner (m200y Free), Matt Elliott (m200y Breast), m800y Free Relay
- Track & Field (indoor, individual): Marquis Dendy (long jump), David Triassi (weight throw)
- Track & Field (outdoor, individual): Kyle Strawn (hammer throw), Jimmy Clark (10,000m)
- Lacrosse (regular season)
- Three team
- Eight individual
- Six team
- Twenty one individual
The Silver Lining is an exclusive column written by Adam Silverstein of OnlyGators.com for Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com affiliate InsideTheGators.com. OGGOA readers can receive a special discount on a subscription to InsideTheGators, which can be accessed by clicking the image!