Meyer’s picture become more clear after game

By Adam Silverstein
January 2, 2010

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’ article.

One Comment

  1. Gatorfan33 says:

    Adam you are doing a great job with your reporting Gator news and this isn’t taking a shot at you at all.

    I am about to puke with all of the news and stories regarding this whole Urban gate or whatever nickname one would give it. Can this saga not end? (insert several puking smiley faces here)

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