Urban Meyer at Florida: “I thought I was dying.”

Updated on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Photo Credit: ESPN Images

Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” on Tuesday and discussed, among other topics, what ultimately led to him deciding to depart the Florida Gators – first after the 2009 season and then for good at the conclusion of the 2010 campaign.

“I thought I was dying,” Meyer said in the taped interview. “Absolutely [I was depressed]. Mentally, I was broke.”

Meyer tells a tale of stress and depression, explaining that he dropped a significant amount of weight (37 pounds) while self-medicating in order to simply go to sleep at night while the head coach at Florida.

“Now I’m taking two Ambiens. I would drink a beer on top of it, just to get some sleep. Not many people know that,” he said. “And I go from 217 pounds to 180 pounds. I lose 37 pounds…and we’re undefeated.”

Continue Reading » Urban Meyer at Florida: “I thought I was dying.”

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FOUR BITS: Meyer, Sturgis, World Cup, U.S. Open

1 » Speaking at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp in Detroit, Michigan over the weekend, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer discussed lessons he learned from the military about teamwork and how it is so much more important to be a team than in individual in the sport of football. In doing so, he praised the 2008 national title-winning Florida Gators, stating for the second time in as many years that he thinks that group was the best team in college football history. “I’ve been a part of a couple great teams. I think the best team that’s ever played the game [was] in ’08. That was animal instincts [that] took over on the field; they protected each other,” he told the group. “Have you ever tried to reason with a wild animal? You never reason with a wild animal; they protect each other. Have you ever tried to negotiate, evaluate, take a play off? If you’re a wild animal, that doesn’t happen.” (Hat tip: Yahoo! Sports)

2 » Miami Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis threw out the first pitch at Saturday’s home game for the Miami Marlins. Sturgis will enter his second NFL season in 2014 looking to hold down his starting job with the Dolphins. Though he flashed his signature strong leg and dead-on accuracy at times in 2013, Sturgis did go through his share of struggles, finishing 26/34 (.765) with seven field goals of 50+ yards.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Meyer, Sturgis, World Cup, U.S. Open

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Jack Youngblood criticizes Urban Meyer on radio

Former Florida Gators defensive end Jack Youngblood can generally be found in a jovial mood, enthusiastic to talk about his collegiate and professional careers, always willing to lend his opinion about a variety of football-related topics.

That was the case more than two years ago when Youngblood sat down for an extensive 90-minute, three-part interview with OnlyGators.com that covered his life, career and post-football aspirations.

And while he once again had no problem sharing his thoughts on a variety of topics Thursday while on 740 The Game out of Orlando, FL, his tone became disapproving and bothered when discussing former Florida (now Ohio State Buckeyes) head coach Urban Meyer on the air with host Mike Bianchi.

Youngblood, a seven-time Pro Bowler and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who is also a member of the Gators’ Ring of Honor and UF Athletic Hall of Fame, explained that he once considered himself close with Meyer but no longer sees the coach in the same light.

“Very much so,” said Youngblood when asked if he was disappointed with how Meyer left Florida. “When somebody tells me something to my face confidentially, I expect it to be the truth. When it turns out to not be the truth, that doesn’t sit you very high on my Christmas card list, put it that way.

“[He told me] several things – that character was the No. 1 thing he was recruiting on, that was the main thing he was going to recruit on, character. That didn’t happen. And then all of the stuff at the end of the deal, it got convoluted and ‘I’m sick’ and ‘I needed some time off’ and then ‘I didn’t take time off’ and ‘I’m doing television,’ which if it’s not more intense than being a head coach, I don’t know what is.

“There was just no consistency to me, from my perspective.”

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Urban Meyer: Florida did not enable Hernandez

Updated on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Five days after refusing to speak about tight end Aaron Hernandez, former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer sent a series of text messages to The Columbus Dispatch (and other media outlets) in an effort to tell his side of the story.

According to Meyer, reports about Hernandez’s time at Florida have been exaggerated. He claims that Hernandez did not fail multiple drug tests – as was initially reported shortly after the New England Patriots selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft – and that his family and everyone involved with the Gators did whatever they could to help put him on the right path.

“I just received an e-mail from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests by Hernandez covered up by [the University] of Florida or the coaching staff. This is absolutely not true. Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player.

“He was an athlete at Florida 4-7 years ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct. Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him.

”Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim. Relating or blaming these serious charges to [the University] of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible.”

Now the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Meyer has taken plenty of heat over the last two weeks for Hernandez after he was charged with first degree murder following a shooting in North Attleboro, MA.

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Report: Urban Meyer turned in Florida’s Brian White for recruiting violation (Updated)

Updated at 2:45 p.m.

Despite bringing two national titles and dozens of victories to Gainesville, FL, over his six seasons with the Florida Gators, former head coach Urban Meyer has drawn the ire of fans over the last few years for how the team played in 2010 and the way he left the program and subsequently took over the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The remaining Florida fans Meyer still had on his side may finally find a reason to turn against him if a recent report that he turned in a Gators assistant coach for a minor secondary recruiting violation is indeed true.

According to FOXSports.com’s Clay Travis, who only cites “sources in New York” in his column, Meyer and Ohio State recently turned in Florida running backs coach Brian White for a “bump” violation (contacting a recruit, usually “accidentally” in person, during a non-contact period) while recruiting four-star 2014 wide receiver Curtis Samuel.

Chances are that Meyer likely reported White not for bumping into Samuel but rather because he believed White offered Samuel a scholarship while at his school, which is a secondary violation. Samuel told InsidetheGators.com that UF head coach Will Muschamp called to extend a scholarship offer following White’s visit on April 16.

Though the NCAA reportedly investigated the potential violation and found that White had done nothing wrong, Meyer going out of his way to report a former assistant – one he originally hired to coach tight ends for the Gators in 2009 – is an action that should undoubtedly put a sour taste in the mouths of Florida fans.

Continue Reading » Report: Urban Meyer turned in Florida’s Brian White for recruiting violation (Updated)

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FOUR BITS: Meyer, Merklein, Harvin, Miami

1 » Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer sat down for a question-and-answer session with CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler (believe it or not) that was published on Friday. In the piece, he mentions the Florida Gators on a few occasions, the highlights of which are below. Check out the other topics by clicking here.

On why ‘no question’ he would still be at Florida if health issues never surfaced
“I realized not too long after [around February 2011]. I called Jeremy [Foley] and said, ‘I made a mistake.’ Once I felt like everything was under control, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I do?’ I just told Jeremy as a friend in conversation. The talk was more about one day getting back into it. He was very supportive. Then I started at ESPN and had a ball with that, but is that enough? Is that what I was called to do? I planned to take more than a year [off] though.”

On regrets for the way his Florida tenure ended
“I didn’t at first. I thought we did a good job. We did our best. I look back now, the way it ended was certainly a regret. Does that mean it haunts me? Not at all. I’ve always felt our job is to do a good job and do it the right way, do it ethically and for the best interest of the student-athlete — check, check, check. I’ll always be associated with the school, and my great friends are there and all that. Absolutely none with that. It just wasn’t a normal way to move on. There would have been if I would have stayed out. I was worried about survival for a little bit.”

2 » Florida brought back a huge name in Gators tennis on Friday when the school announced that Mark Merklein has returned to the program as an assistant coach with the men’s team. Merklein, a two-time national champion (doubles in 1993, singles in 1994) and the 1994 SEC Player of the Year, earned four All-American nominations and three All-SEC nods while at Florida and was inducted into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. Considered by many to be the best men’s tennis player in school history, Merklein wound up competing as a professional for 12 years and even serving as a volunteer assistant for the Gators from 1998-2002 while he was on the tour. He was the head coach of the USTA Player Development Center for six seasons (2006-11) before being hired by Michigan as an assistant coach for the past two years (2012-13). “When I left I even said to everyone, including Mr. [Jeremy] Foley, that it was a goal of mine to one day come back and coach and win national championships,” Merklein said in a school release. “I’ve said it so much now, it’s time to actually do it and put the work in. I’m excited to do that alongside [head coach Bryan Shelton].”

3 » Wide receiver Percy Harvin has only been employed by the Seattle Seahawks for a few weeks now, but he is already turning heads at the team’s facility. According to The Seattle Times, Harvin’s teammates and coaches have already begun taking notice, and second-year quarterback Russell Wilson is ecstatic about the potential of Seattle’s offense this season. “His talent level is unbelievable, off the charts,” said Wilson of Harvin. “He brings an explosive mentality to the game, which a lot of our guys already have. But to have him is truly tremendous. He’s a guy that’s been one of the best football players in the National Football League for the past several years.” Harvin also told the paper that he expect to play some running back on occasion and will likely be back for kickoff returns.

4 » ESPN’s decision to kick-off Florida second football game of the season, on the road against the Miami Hurricanes, at noon has caused quite a stir amongst fans over the past 24 hours. The Gators and Hurricanes will square off on Sept. 7 in Miami Gardens, FL at Sun Life Stadium in a game which everyone involved assumed would be played at night, likely at 8 p.m. Instead, Florida-Miami will take place under the extreme heat of the South Florida sun with kickoff just after noon, earlier than any UF-UM game has been played since at least 1987. The Miami Herald’s Manny Navarro did some digging to learn why ESPN chose that time slot.

According to the network, ABC will be airing a NASCAR race at 8 p.m. while ESPN is broadcasting Notre Dame-Michigan. The 3:30 p.m. slot on ABC will be used for regional games (those in Florida will see Oregon at Virginia). Hurricanes AD Blake James apparently tweeted that Miami “requested and lobbied” for the 8 p.m. slot, while ESPN spokesman Mike Humes pointed out that the network values its noon window. “We average probably around three million viewers for that time slot. So it wasn’t like, ‘Let’s put the worst game on at noon.’ The noon window does really well with fans,” he said. “We view this as a great matchup. Scheduling games is like putting together different puzzles with different time zones and commitments, and this was the best window.”

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Urban Meyer on Tim Tebow: “I think he’s going to win a Super Bowl.”

Tim Tebow detractors appear to be multiplying by the day, but his former head coach with the Florida Gators is most certainly not one of them.

In an interview with WOCA 1730 AM on Wednesday, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer said that he still maintains a strong relationship with the New York Jets quarterback and believes in his abilities on the football field just as much as he did when he was coaching him in Gainesville, FL.

“I think I’m like every Gator fan and anybody that just appreciates great people and great warriors. There’s got to be a team – it all comes down to one team believing in a human being or believing in an athlete or a player. I think I got the same feeling as most everybody that watched him and grew up with him,” he said.

“All they need is to let him get his foot in the door and he’s going to win games, and I think he’s going to win a Super Bowl. I still believe that, probably because I spent as much or more time with him as any other coach. I have that much confidence in him.”

Meyer went on to describe their relationship, saying he and Tebow still converse “very frequently, once a week probably” though they have not spoken in the last few weeks.

The coach and former pupil went to lunch a few months ago when Meyer was in New Jersey recruiting the Tri-State Area. He felt Tebow was still in good spirits despite being traded from the Denver Broncos following the 2011 season and barely stepping foot on the field with the Jets in 2012.

“He’s a positive guy. He wants to win. He’s a winner. He’s always won. This losing thing doesn’t really sit well with him,” Meyer said. “He wants to be on a team that’s…he believes New York is committed to win. He has a lot of respect from Coach [Rex] Ryan. He’s a guy that’s pretty positive all the time, but I could see there was a little bit of worry in his face, concern.”

Recent word nationally (and out of New York) is that the Jets tried to find a trading partner for Tebow at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. If New York is unable to trade Tebow – a likely scenario because team sources have already let it be known that the player will be cut if a trade partner is not found – he is expected to be released when free agency begins in early March.

As far as Meyer is concerned, NFL teams should definitely be interested in Tebow as long as they are willing to give him a legitimate opportunity to succeed.

“You put Tim Tebow on a team with great players, he’s going to be a great quarterback,” Meyer said.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Meyer-Tebow, Shrine Game, Brewer

1 » What exactly does now-Ohio State Buckeyes head coach think of what has happened to quarterback Tim Tebow’s NFL career? “It’s a great question,” he told USA TODAY’s Robert Klemko on Thursday. “I think that his coaching transition is a big part of it, with the guy that drafted him in the first round [Josh McDaniels] getting fired immediately. Then he goes to New York and that doesn’t work out the way he envisioned.” Meyer, who claims that he speaks to Tebow each week, said he is “like anyone else” and “just waiting to see what happens” with Tebow, though he is surprised that his career has not taken an upward trajectory. “He has a unique skill set. But I have faith in Tim, and I think it will work out,” he added.

2 » The 2013 East-West Shrine Game, featuring former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis (No. 17, East) and safety Josh Evans (No. 24, East) , is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. on NFL Network. The game will air live from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL and wraps up a week’s worth of practices that saw Evans and Sturgis working in front of a bevy of NFL scouts. Sturgis met with a number of teams throughout the week and showed off his strong leg, while Evans also got some onlookers and even impressed East team safeties coach Marlon McCree. According to Rotoworld.com, “McCree mentioned Evans’s name more than any other during the four days of practice.” Note: Linebacker Lerentee McCray was also invited to the game but chose not to attend at the last minute in order to rest and heal up before the 2013 NFL Combine.

3 » CBSSports.com’s Zach Harper recently blogged about “the art of the leak out” in the NBA and used strong>Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer as the paradigm for his post. “There are few players in the NBA as opportunistic on a change of possession as Brewer,” he wrote. “In a league full of specialists … the Nuggets’ six-year veteran might be the NBA’s first transition specialist.” He continued, “There are two reasons why Brewer is so good at scoring on leakouts in transition: technique and speed.” Harper then breaks down Brewer’s unique ability with numerous video examples of what he is able to do during games. He also notes that “28.1 percent of Brewer’s offensive possessions come in transition” and “30.3 percent of Brewer’s points come on the fast break,” calling him possibly “the fastest player in the league without the ball.”

4 » As recently noted by school beat writer Scott Carter on Twitter, former Florida forward Adam Allen and walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan are doing a great job leading their new team, the Rollins Tars, to a 12-2 start to their 2012-13 season. Allen, who plays through pain and following multiple knee surgeries that ended his Gators career, is third on the team with 9.8 points and fourth with 3.8 rebounds per game while averaging just 19.8 minutes per contest. McClanahan, on a scholarship at Rolins, is second on the Tars with both 14.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while playing a team-high 33.6 minutes per contest. Both players are shooting better than 46 percent from downtown this season.

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