Not always up for extensive one-on-one interviews, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer granted Joe Rose of 560 WQAM in Miami, FL, 15 minutes of his time on Thursday and answered questions spanning a number of topics that fans have been waiting to hear him discuss.
Meyer, who makes it a point to appear on Rose’s show once or twice a year mostly due to the fact that it is popular in the recruiting hotbed of South Florida, said he would not necessarily be against Florida’s in-state rivals being added to the mix of a potentially expanded Southeastern Conference in 2012-13.
“I think that would be great for the SEC,” Meyer said. “I have not done the research, I [would need to] ask a lot of questions. […] I know one thing – our commissioner and our office, they won’t be caught by surprise because we got the best people. It’s phenomenal the job they do. That’s a natural fit – the two schools you just mentioned – we play one of them every year anyway and the other is a great rivalry as well.
“As a coach, you look at it and say, ‘Here we go, let’s go add a couple more powerhouses.’ [But then] you have to go play them.”
He also noted that the SEC’s recent dominance is likely the cause for the immediate need for conference expansion across the country.
“As far as interest on a national level, as far as quality of play, right now the SEC is the best,” he opined. “The television contracts, the interest level that’s taking place in the SEC is forcing some of these other conferences to react. It’s going to be interesting. The one thing you can rest assured though, commissioner Mike Slive – the guy’s phenomenal. He has got his hand on some buttons if we have to do what we have to do.”
One facet in which adding Miami and/or Florida State to the conference could potentially impact the Gators is in recruiting. When it comes down to it though, Meyer is more than confident about the prowess of his program in that area.
“Our best recruiters are our players,” Meyer said. “I didn’t even go on the road the last three weeks because I was not allowed to do that. The fact that we have the facilities in place now, we have the players in place, we have an excellent coaching staff. I don’t want to say it recruits itself, because it doesn’t, but the best salesmen you have are the people that are involved in your team. Our current team right now is very close. Our team has had success in the classroom and on the field.”
That success is one of the reasons why Florida had to deny four-star athlete Travon Van admittance to the school. Van winding up with former Gators assistant coach Doc Holliday and the Marshall Thundering Heard was no coincidence – the two coaches remain close. In fact, Meyer took a bit of offense to Rose questioning if any dirty recruiting was involved on Holliday’s part.
“Doc’s a great friend – so [the decision] was nothing behind the scenes. That was in the forefront. The person that we’re talking about – I’m not even sure I’m allowed to mention it – but that was all done in conjunction,” he said. “There was no shady play or something like that. There was going to be an admission issue at Florida. Guys like Doc Holliday –he’s great for college football, he’s a great man and he’s a great friend. The most important thing is making sure the student-athlete has a place to go to school.”
Regarding 2010 recruit Kevin Nelson accusing his coaches of dirty recruiting, Meyer said he didn’t hear about those comments and that Florida worries “about its own business.” Nevertheless, he touched on the subject of how bad ugly recruiting can get.
“It’s a little bit like Tim Tebow. Tim, when he first came to Florida, he was The Chosen One. And then I’ve never seen a young man go through the scrutiny [he did and] just get picked apart,” he lamented. “I don’t think it’s necessarily me…maybe it is….but I think people just want to take a shot at something that’s doing OK. We’re very proud of our program here.”
When it comes to the Gators’ latest group of incoming freshman, Meyer once gain praised five-star safety Matt Elam and said he is looking forward to getting all of his players on the field as soon as possible this summer.
“Matt Elam is going to play. It’s done,” Meyer said emphatically. “He had a heck of a spring, he’s a heck of a kid, comes from a great family, we’ve known about him forever. We feel very good about our freshman class. Our [defensive line] – those kids are going to play. We don’t redshirt here at Florida – you go play. That’s why we recruit them and that’s why they’re here. We need some help because we lost a lot of really good players. I’m about as excited for [summer to begin on] June 24th as I’ve ever been.”
The most telling statement Meyer made during his conversation with Rose was his response to being questioned about how difficult it is to recruit nationally. Contrary to popular belief, it is an absolute non-issue for the program.
“We don’t want to recruit national. That’s one of the big sales why I wanted to come coach at Florida, because it’s a regional recruiting school,” he noted. “I have no interest in getting on a plane and flying across the country. We don’t recruit nationally, what we do is we cherry pick a little bit. If there is some kind of draw or some kind of interest – one of the best players in the country – we’ll go and make a run at them. Because of our brand, lately, we’re getting involved in that. That’s not what we do. What we do is try to do the best job we can in South Florida and Georgia and obviously the rest of the state of Florida, and then we’ll go cherry pick a little bit. This has been a unique year for out-of-state kids to jump all over it. They are some great players. I would like to, out of 25, have 18 in-state-ers or [from] south Georgia and in-state.”
Meyer also spoke on a variety of other topics, which you can read…after the break:
Continue Reading » Meyer speaks on expansion, recruiting and 2010