1 » Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer, speaking at the 40th annual UF Joint Civic Club Luncheon alongside president Bernie Machen, paid tribute to longtime Gainesville, FL, police officer Johnny Hornes who died last week of cancer at 67. Speaking about Hornes, Meyer noted that he helped change his players’ perceptions of law enforcement and even taught redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey how to tie a neck tie. During the tribute, Machen happened to say something of note regarding Meyer’s future. “And after [the Meyers] finish working, they’re going to stay in Gainesville as members of the community. So they’ve chosen this as their home, and they’ve chosen you as their friends and neighbors, and I think we’re all better for that.”
2 » According to the Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News, former Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper has firmly taken control of the Philadelphia Eagles’ No. 4 receiving role from veteran Hank Baskett. He has been a standout during training camp and has performed well while some of the team’s starters have been out with a variety of injuries.
Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer is looking to put a stop to the seemingly never-ending black eyes being placed on his program with each subsequent arrest of a University of Florida football player. With 28 legal issues under his tenure to-date, Meyer and his coaches held an emergency meeting with the players on Monday, a source close to the team told OGGOA.
The coaching staff took turns verbally lambasting the team and letting it be known how, more than ever, accountability and responsibility were important to the program this offseason. Then, as former Florida football player Brady Ackerman first disclosed via Twitter on Monday, they stressed that – from this point going forward – the team would be held accountable as a group for any individual missteps.
As OGGOA‘s source put it, the Gators are adopting an “if one falls, all fall” mentality that was taught in practical application immediately after the impassioned meeting.
Director of strength and conditioning Mickey Mariotti, who leads the players during the summer when coaches cannot run practices, worked the team hard with a number of extensive drills (including “stadiums” and “snakes”) Monday evening. The tough workout was just the beginning of an indefinite period of disciplinary action, according to the source. The players were already enraged and none-to-happy with their teammate’s actions after the meeting, and the point appeared to be hammered in with gusto.
Meyer, who makes all punishment-related decisions alongside athletic director Jeremy Foley and school president Bernie Machen, may use redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr.‘s DUI arrest to set an example for the rest of the team.
Ackerman said late Monday that he was “hearing Hammond will be dismissed from the Florida football team,” but Meyer could be putting him on a probationary period similar to what Oregon did with running back LeGarrette Blount last season.
Then again, if Meyer decides to stay consistent with his punishment and treat this like similar situations in the past, the school will likely wait until the legal process has run its course before making a final decision on Hammond’s future.
For what it’s worth, OGGOA‘s source called Hammond a “good kid who has done everything right up until this point.” His grades are high, his behavior was consummate with what the team expected and he also completed plenty of community service work.
Hammond has already been placed on an indefinite suspension from team activities.
1 » Asked his thoughts about the one-and-done mentality perpetuated by the Kentucky Wildcats, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan decided to reminisce about the 2007 season, when his National Championship-winning team decided to take the unselfish route and return to school to repeat. “I don’t know all the situations in terms of [Kentucky players] with their families,” Donovan said per the Knoxville News Sentinel at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings. “My situation was very, very unique. There was an incredible chemistry and bond. And coming off a championship, they also wanted to try and do it again. Three of the [starters’ fathers] were professional athletes. I think the one thing their parents talked to them about was that they would never, ever play on a team like that, and that the NBA would always be there.”
2 » Donovan also spoke about his passion for the Florida program and how he does not envision leaving anytime soon, citing how nice the Gainesville, FL, community has been to raise a family and build a life. “I’m in a unique situation,” Donovan said. “Florida’s been great to me. I still have a passion for it.”
From falling to the Brigham Young Cougars in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament and losing sophomore guard Ray Shipman to transfer to being a name rumored in two head coaching openings (St. Johns, Oregon) while recruiting players for his 2010 and 2011 classes, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has had plenty on his mind in recent weeks.
Speaking with the media Wednesday, Donovan appeared somewhat distraught at losing Shipman, a “great kid” who he empathizes with and would take back “in a heartbeat.”
Former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap entered a plea of no contest to driving under the influence in a Gainesville courthouse Friday. Dunlap, who was arrested in the early morning of Dec. 1, was given the minimum mandatory sentence for a first-time DUI offender.
His license was suspended for six months, he must complete 50 hours of community service, serve a year of probation, pay approximately $1,000 in fines and court fees and participate in a victim’s impact panel, Spencer Mann with the State Attorney’s Office told The Gainesville Sun.
Dunlap, who was found asleep at the wheel of his vehicle while it was in-gear and stopped at a traffic light, was suspended by head coach Urban Meyer for the 2009 SEC Championship. Meyer, athletic director Jeremy Foley and University of Florida president Bernie Machen mutually agreed to reinstate him for the 2010 Sugar Bowl.
After the conclusion of the season, Dunlap, 20, decided to forgo his final year of college eligibility and declare for the 2010 NFL Draft. He is projected to be a first-round pick.
University of Florida president Bernie Machen spoke with Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated after the Florida Gators‘ 51-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2010 Sugar Bowl on Friday. When asked about head coach Urban Meyer‘s leave of absence, Machen was forthcoming with his answer. “It could be six months, it could be a year, or it could be never,” Machen said. “But this is all about Urban and helping him get well and get himself right. [The media has] been on a bit of a wild-goose chase looking for some illness or something that’s wrong with him. He just gave all of himself to his job, and he’s exhausted mentally and physically. He doesn’t, as far as I know, have any serious medical problem. There’s no heart deal.”
Machen also revealed details about the first conversations Meyer had with him about stepping down. “He was thinking what was best for the university was for him to leave,” Machen said. “It was typical Urban. He always puts himself last in the conversation. At that time, I said, ‘Urban, think about yourself. If you coach again, wouldn’t you like to do it at Florida?’ He really wasn’t thinking about that.” With the new plan – to give Meyer a leave of absence and appoint offensive coordinator Steve Addazio as interim coach – the administration knows they are taking a chance. “It is a gamble. But what the hell? I’ll take that bet anytime,” Machen said. “He’s the best coach in America. He loves this program. He built this program. It’s his program. I would hate for him to wake up a year from now and decide he wants to coach again and we’ve moved on.”
Meyer, who said during the trophy presentation that he “plan[s] on being the coach of the Gators,” reiterated that stance in the press conference. “In my gut, I feel like I’ll be back,” Meyer said. “I just want to make sure my family and health are No. 1. And I’ve just got to get that right.” Addazio feels the same way. “It’s real simple,” Addazio said. “Florida’s Florida. Coach will be back.”
In the end, the decision to offer Meyer a leave of absence was really about one simple concept. “If there’s any chance that Urban Meyer is going to coach again,” Machen said, “I want it to be at Florida.” For more details about this story, please check out Staples’ SI.com article.
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.
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?