Media reacts to Urban Meyer leaving the Gators

Everyone seems to have an opinion on head coach Urban Meyer’s decision to step down from his position with the Florida Gators. Below are a number of commentary pieces posted over the last 24 hours.

Meyer ride at UF fun while it lasted – by Pat Dooley, The Gainesville Sun
“Maybe it’s because he can’t wait to be an assistant coach at Nate’s baseball games or travel to Atlanta and Fort Myers to see his daughters’ volleyball games. And watch football on Saturdays and not feel any pressure. And maybe he’s at peace because he knows this — Florida survived Steve Spurrier’s departure. It will survive Urban Meyer’s. But it was fun while it lasted. Even if it lasted a year too long.”

Urban was a legend at UF – by Pat Dooley, The Gainesville Sun
“Urban Meyer did more than win games and collect crystal trophies at the University of Florida. He changed the culture. From the Gator Walk to the Champions Dinners to the Lettermen’s Luncheons, Meyer reached out to both the past and present of Florida football. Meyer brought new traditions to Florida and restored the swagger the program enjoyed in the 1990s by embracing what Steve Spurrier had built and adding to it. He was a creature of habit and superstition, a complex man with a simple plan.”

If Urban Meyer is indeed done with coaching, his career ranks among the best in history – by Ivan Maisel, ESPN
“Meyer has retired twice in one year. Meyer, aka “The Glare,” didn’t pay heed to the voice. It told him last December to get out to save his health and his peace of mind. He changed his mind the following day. Meyer regained the former. He is retiring again in search of the latter, a search he couldn’t complete while giving football his all.”

Meyer should have left last season by Pat Forde, ESPN
“But let’s be honest: Didn’t he just waste Florida’s time for the past year? Coming back last winter assured the Gators only one thing: They would sign the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. And while that certainly is significant, the program backpedaled through a brutal 2010 season that took its toll on all involved. […] He should have walked off and become a family man last year, because the time since then has only damaged his record and his reputation.”

Even if you’re a Gator hater, there is no joy in Meyer’s departure
– by Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“And so there is no reason to celebrate when the sport burns out a talented coach. You would rather he stay so that when you finally beat him it is all the more sweet.”

Florida Gators coach urban Meyer should make resignation permanent
– by Thayer Evans, FOX Sports
“The strain of coaching was difficult enough when Meyer was winning, let alone losing. He has always put too much pressure on himself in his constant quest for perfection. A workaholic, he struggled with the delicate balance of how to control as many things as possible and not worry about the things that cannot be controlled. Some coaches worry so much about what they can’t control that they eventually lose command of what they actually can control. That can be a lonely feeling, void of family and friends. It’s also one that can become so grueling and tiresome that you just become fed up with it.”

Meyer shouldn’t have returned to Florida after resigning the first time
– by Jon Solomon, The Birmingham News
“Meyer was a workaholic last year crying for help to get out. Instead, he allowed himself to give it one more shot, believing that a leave of absence would help him. You never completely leave football behind as an SEC coach. Florida should thank Meyer for accomplishing so much in so little time. Meyer should thank God that he’s leaving alive.”

Meyer calls a timeout on career, but it’s far from over
– by Bill Bryant, The Huntsville Times
“He’ll certainly look spiffy in his sportcoat on whatever network reels him in, but to think he won’t return in time (three years? five years?) is sheer folly. He’s too good and too driven to sit, rather than stand, on the sidelines.”

Tim Tebow sends best wishes to Urban Meyer

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow, selected No. 25 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft after playing four seasons with the Florida Gators under head coach Urban Meyer with whom he won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and two BCS National Championships, released the following statement Wednesday after learning Meyer decided to call it quits on his Florida coaching career.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime to play for a man who will be remembered as one of the greatest football coaches of all time. But Coach Meyer was more than just a coach to me: He was a father figure who cared about me as a person and taught me valuable lessons that I will never forget.

“I respect that Coach Meyer had the courage to make the decision that was right for himself and his family. He will be blessed and better off for it. I am truly glad that he’s happy and no matter what, we both will be Gators for the rest of our lives.

“While change is never easy, the University of Florida will find the right head coach to continue its proud football tradition and will have the full support of Gator Nation. I wish Coach Meyer and his family all the best going forward, and they will always be a big part of my life.”

UPDATE: Tebow spoke further about Meyer on Friday.

“I’ve talked to him pretty much every day, multiple times. I’m proud of him. It takes a lot to leave something that you love like that, like coaching, like the University of Florida, but he knew what the right thing was to do for him and no one else knew that except for him,” he said. “He just wanted to spend more time with his family, and that was the most important thing to him, and I thought that was great. I respect him even more for making a decision like that.”

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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

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.


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.”


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…
Continue Reading » Florida Gators Press Conference: Urban Meyer steps down as head football coach

BREAKING NEWS: Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer retires

Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer announced his retirement from college football on Wednesday and a press conference will be held by the University of Florida including athletic director Jeremy Foley and school president Bernie Machen at 6 p.m.

“I have been a Division I football coach for the last 25 years and, during that time, my primary focus has been helping my teams win titles,” Meyer said in an official statement released by the school. “I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and I am a fierce competitor to my core. At this time in my life, however, I appreciate the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field. The decision to step down was a difficult one.

“But after spending more than two decades motivating and celebrating the young men I’ve been so proud to coach, I relish the opportunity to cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports. I know how fortunate I am to be in a position to make this choice and to have a family that is as loving and supportive as my amazing wife and children have always been.”

Meyer, who will coach his final game with the Gators in the 2011 Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, 2011, reportedly informed Foley of his decision over the weekend. The duo finalized the resignation on Tuesday.

“I am enormously grateful to the University of Florida and our tremendous fans for giving me the incredible opportunity to lead the football program,’’ Meyer said. “The support provided by school president Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley has been an invaluable part of all that we have been able to accomplish over the last six years I have exceptional regard for my coaching staff who have always shared my passionate commitment to winning and to guiding the development of the young men of Florida football.

“Most important, I will be forever grateful to the student-athletes I have had the honor to coach and from whom I have learned so much. I will profoundly miss coming to campus every day to coach this team, but I will always be a Gator at heart, and I am confident that the program will continue to reflect the highest ideals of the University of Florida and collegiate sports.”

He is coming off his least productive year at Florida, finishing the regular season with a 7-5 (4-4 SEC) record even though the Gators brought in arguably the nation’s top recruiting class in the offseason.

Meyer leaves Florida having complied a 64-15 (36-12 SEC) record, two BCS National Championships, three BCS bowl game appearances, two SEC Championships in three appearances, and – at one point – a school-record 22-game winning streak. His .810 winning percentage is the best in UF history, he became the first coach in FBS history to post consecutive 13-win seasons, and he is the only coach to post three 13-win seasons in a four-year span.

Named “Coach of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News, Meyer is the first coach ever to win two BCS National Championships and is one of five coaches to win a pair of national titles in his first four years at a school.

Meyer coached a Heisman Trophy winner in Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, a No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft in QB Alex Smith (at Utah) and has had 26 Gators selected to the NFL Draft since taking over the team. Seven Florida players have been first-round picks under Meyer including a school-record-tying three in 2010.

Foley also shared his early thoughts on Meyer’s retirement.

“When I first came to Florida in 1976, all anybody wanted to do here was win one Southeastern Conference championship,’’ Foley said. “As good of a coach as he is, he’s a better person. He’s given Gator fans and this program memories of a lifetime. When you win 22 games in a row and have back-to-back 13-win seasons, two national championships, it’s hard to quantify.

“People just need to understand what he did. Winning two national championships is really hard. He fell in love with the Florida Gators, he loves this place, and he’ll always be a part of our history. It was our privilege to have him as our football coach.’’

After falling to Florida State on Nov. 27, Meyer gave no indication that he would be leaving the program anytime soon.

“I can assure you we are going to rebuild this thing and build it up the right way and do it right. Obviously we are down a little bit. I didn’t believe we would be that far down – but we are,” he said. “How do you build up a program? I’ve done it a few times. You build it up with tough players, tough coaches, and you got to play better. You have to have a plan to win. […] With that said, we’re going to be rebuild it right though, not wrong. We’re going to rebuild it right.”

Asked on Nov. 18 to clarify his status for next year, Meyer assured the media that he would be returning to the sidelines for the 2011 season. “Oh yeah. One hundred percent. Absolutely,” he said.

OGGOA will continue updating this story. Stay tuned.

Photo Credit: Stephen Morton/Associated Press

Gainesville native returning home with Kent State

For most players and fans, the Florida Gators squaring off against the Kent State Golden Flashes is just another out-of-conference game against a mid-major opponent before the Southeastern Conference slate begins. However, for Kent State walk-on and Gainesville, FL, native Brian Frank, Thursday’s game is a dream realized.

Growing up in Gainesville before going off to prep school, Frank never thought he would play college basketball. With encouragement from his brother and the Oh Fours, Frank wound up playing Division III hoops for the College of Wooster before deciding to transfer to Kent State – where his father is a provost – last year.

And even though he broke his wrist last week and will be unable to play on Thursday, just being on the court at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center dressed in a college uniform means the world to this driven young man.

OGGOA spoke with Frank on Tuesday (thanks to the good people of the Kent State athletic department) and asked him what it meant to him to be returning to his hometown on a college basketball team.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Thanks a lot for sitting down with us tonight. I know you guys are in the middle of finals while simultaneously preparing for Florida in a few days. Let’s start with how it all began for you. What was it like growing up in Gainesville?

BRIAN FRANK: “It was awesome. I was really growing into my love for the game right around the time the Oh Fours came to UF. My brother is good friends with them and, being a kid in high school, having Taurean Green and Joakim Noah and Al Horford sitting in the stands to watch you play is really something. I think what really made me want to follow basketball was my brother’s close relationship with them. Growing up, my brother was always my inspiration and he continues to be the reason I play, but he would always try to bring the Florida players around me to give me a good look at what college basketball was all about.”

AS: Spending so much time with those guys, did they say something in particular that resonated with you or gave you that little extra push to give college basketball a shot?

BF: “They were just always real supportive of me. To give you an example, I was on Facebook today and Taurean messaged me to check how things were going. When the [Atlanta] Hawks came to Cleveland, Al got me a couple tickets to see them play. Little things like knowing they care about how I’m doing really means a lot. But if you’re looking for a quote… When Joakim was at my [Bucholtz] high school games, he would always yell, ‘Take it to the baja little Frankie!’ That was fun.”

Read the rest of our interview with Kent State’s Brian Frank…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gainesville native returning home with Kent State

Three Gators earn All-SEC honors from coaches

Three Florida Gators football players were voted by Southeastern Conference head coaches as members of their 2010 All-SEC Teams on Tuesday.

Senior safety Ahmad Black and senior punter Chas Henry were named All-SEC first-team selections, while junior cornerback Janoris Jekins was the only Gator to earn second team honors.

Black and Henry received the same recognition from the Associated Press on Monday; however Jenkins was also selected as a first-team player by the group and senior center Mike Pouncey garnered second-team appreciation that he did not from the coaches.

SEC coaches placed 10 Florida starters on their preseason All-SEC teams. Included on those lists were Pouncey, Jenkins and redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson on the first team, and Black, Henry, junior running back Jeff Demps, junior S Will Hill, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones, redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey and junior kicker Caleb Sturgis on the second team.

FOUR BITS: Outback, Horschel, Hart, basketball

1 » The Florida Gators may not be playing for a championship, but members of the team will return home from the 2011 Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL, with some swag. For participating in the game, each player on both teams will receive a Fossil watch, Jostens ring, $150 Best Buy gift card, $25 Outback Steakhouse gift card and a hat, according to the SportsBusiness Journal.

2 » Former Gators All-American golfer Billy Horschel earned his PGA Tour card at Qualifying School on Monday. Coming off a season in which he only participated in four events (missing the cut in each) before injuring his wrist and sitting out the remainder of the year, Horschel made the cut at 9-under par and is ready to finally begin his career. He also made the cut last December, finishing seventh in the event. Horschel’s PGA Tour card expired due to his lack of participation because of injury. Originally overlooked in this posting was fellow former UF golfer Will Stricker, who also earned his card at Q-school this weekend. Congratulations to both men.

3 » According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Chris Hays, four-star 2011 running back recruit Dee Hart (Orlando, FL) – a current Michigan commitment – will jump to Florida should head coach Rich Rodriguez be fired sometime soon. Hart, who reportedly desires to play in the spread offense, has dropped Alabama from his recruitment and seems to be concentrating on only two schools now. Of course, Hart could also end up in Gainesville, FL, even if Rodriguez keeps his job, especially if the Gators’ coaching staff can convince him that Rodriguez could be gone in a year while head coach Urban Meyer’s job security is arguably the best in the nation.

4 » FOX Sports college basketball writer Jeff Goodman, whose had his eye on Florida all offseason, contends that it is the Gators’ backcourt which is causing the majority of the problems for the team so far this year. Calling sophomore guard Kenny Boynton and junior point guard Erving Walker “shot-hunters,” Goodman agrees with head coach Billy Donovan’s passionate plea for the players to worry about making their teammates better rather than putting points on the board.

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 13 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 13 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance.OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 13th week of the season.

CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Six tackles (five solo), four passes defended, interception (no return)

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Team-high 10 tackles (five solo)
LB BRANDON SILER, San Diego Chargers: Team-high 12 tackles (nine solo)
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Five solo tackles (one for loss)
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Seven tackles (four solo), interception (five-yard return)

WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Four receptions for 34 yards (long: 28), touchdown
S MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Three solo tackles
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Two tackles (one solo), 1.5 sacks
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Solo tackle
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Three tackles (two solo), pass defended, interception (7-yard return)
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Two rec. for 28 yards (targets: 5, long: 18)
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Two tackles, QB hit
DT JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Three tackles (two solo, two loss), sack
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings: Solo tackle
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Three receptions for 51 yards (targets: 5, long: 35), touchdown
RB FRED TAYLOR, New England Patriots: Four rushes for nine yards (long: 6)
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Solo tackle
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Two tackles (one solo)
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Two receptions for 36 yards (targets: 4)
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1-for-1 for two yards, passing TD

C Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers), G Cooper Carlisle (Oakland Raiders) – QB Tim Tebow (Broncos), DE Derrick Harvey (Jaguars), DE Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins)

LB Andra Davis (Bills), LB Channing Crowder (Miami Dolphins), WR Percy Harvin (Vikings), DE Jarvis Moss (Raiders), WR Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles), LT Max Starks (Steelers)

– This is Haden’s fourth-straight OGGOA Player of the Week honor; he has nabbed an interception in four consecutive games.
– Siler’s 12 tackles set a career-high.
– Nelson’s touchdown was the first of his professional career.
– Spikes’ interception was the first of his professional career
– Graham’s passing touchdown was the first of his professional career.
– Taylor saw game action for the first time since Week 3.
– KR Brandon James was cut from the Indianapolis Colts this week.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

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