An investigation into Urban Meyer’s time at Florida

By Adam Silverstein
April 9, 2012

An investigation by the Sporting News that was published on Monday depicts the Florida Gators football team under head coach Urban Meyer as one that was “broken” due to character issues (including drug use) and “preferential treatment” that led to a “sense of entitlement” and the inmates (players) running the asylum.

Spending three months investigating the claims of a handful of former players including safety Bryan Thomas (the only one who permitted his name be published), Sporting News’ Matt Hayes learned that Meyer allegedly stated that players missed games due to injury when the absences were actually due to fail drug tests, threatened to pull scholarships from less talented or injured players, and even let players slide with transgressions such as refusing to work out or putting their hands on a coach.

During offseason conditioning before the 2007 season, the team was running stadium steps and at one point, [Percy] Harvin, according to sources, sat down and refused to run. When confronted by strength and conditioning coaches, Harvin—who failed to return calls and texts to his cell phone to comment on this story—said, “This (expletive) ends now.”

“The next day,” a former player said, “we were playing basketball as conditioning.”

It only got worse as Harvin’s career progressed. At one point during the 2008 season, multiple sources confirmed that Harvin, now a prominent member of the Minnesota Vikings, physically attacked wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales, grabbing him by the neck and throwing him to the ground. Harvin had to be pulled off Gonzales by two assistant coaches—but was never disciplined.

Thomas told Hayes that Meyer is “a bad person” who “lost the team’s respect” and that the Florida football program “was out of control” due to his lack of discipline even though he viewed Meyer as “a great coach.” He also shared a personal story in which Meyer told him to “move on” to another program following the 2008 season after injuries and lack of playing time did not lead to his improvement.

“I told (Meyer) I was on track to graduate, I wasn’t a problem and I did everything I was supposed to do—I just had a knee injury,” Thomas said. “I told them I wasn’t leaving, and if they tried to force me to leave, I was going to tell everyone everything.”

The next day, Thomas says he was given a medical hardship letter by position coach Chuck Heater stating Thomas had an injury that would prohibit him from playing football..

An interesting addition to the investigation is that Meyer allegedly told five-star wide receiver recruit Stefon Diggs, who chose Maryland over both Florida and Ohio State following National Signing Day, that “he wouldn’t let his son go to Florida because of the significant character issues in the locker room.” Meyer entered the chase for Diggs’s commitment late; the player was previously down to UF, UM and Auburn but added OSU to his final four late in the process.

Meyer responded to most of Hayes’ allegations but basically refuted all of them. He denied that he spoke poorly of the Gators to Diggs, said the situation with Harvin and Gonzales was “handled” and added that even though there were some discipline issues with the program, it never got out of control.

Two former Florida players, who spoke with OGGOA on Monday under the condition of anonymity, confirmed Hayes’ investigative piece as accurate as it pertains to information he reported regarding the players on the team and how certain situations were handled.


  1. John S says:

    Saw this earlier but took it with a grain of salt. Thanks for following up with your sources.

    This just makes me feel more foolish for defending Meyer while he was here and on his “sabbatical.”

    Good luck to him cleaning up the buckeyes, he’s the perfect man for a program with entitlement issues.

    • Gatorgrad79 says:

      Urban Liar is a perfect fit at osu…should take about 3 years before he is crying on the sideline and needs to leave for more ‘family time’.

  2. walt p says:

    Wow. Didnt we win 2 national titles with this Coach. Let Urban be he did what he was paid to do. WIN

  3. Mike S. says:

    If thats all they got after 3 months I would count that as wasted “investigative” effort. Star players get preferential treatment everywhere. A good portion of the US smokes pot. Some 18-22 year old kids have attitudes, make dumb mistakes and get away with stuff. Where are the smoking guns? NCAA violations? Payoffs? Felons? I mean come on – the big revelation is that Urban had a Circle of Trust? What a load of crap masquerading as journalism.

    • It is still journalism. It just isn’t necessarily blowing the top off anything.

    • Mr2Bits says:

      No worries Mike, the top will blow off your Buckeye nation soon enough!

    • chigator says:

      I have no idea what you are saying other than excusing the off-field problems we have had lately. The question worth asking is, what would you sacrifice to win? My answer is that I would rather win with a clean program than one with players who aren’t there for the right reasons; the same reason it pained me to watch UK win a NC.

      I really wish UF fans would stop protecting Meyer, he’s a grown man and knew what was going on. Simply saying ‘yeah but we won’ only makes our fanbase look bad. Shouldn’t we be able to win without (rather significant) player issues? Look at Billy D, we love him because he’s not Calipari. Hopefully, in 10 years we can say the same of Muschamp.

  4. Ken says:

    Wow, I am glad Meyer is gone. Even more so than I was after he gave us Daz as a HC. If this turns out to be true then I will have no respect for Meyer at all. There are right ways to do things. The outcome doesn’t matter if the method was unjust.

  5. Gatornutt says:

    I guess it is good that a 3 month investigation only led to this. I’m sure a 3 month investigation at most schools would reveal things like this or worse.

  6. corey says:

    You know, Ohio State is really the perfect school for him. I can just see him being one of those red faced, red eyed, red handed, red checkered pants-wearing, do anything to win bucknuts.

  7. Joe says:

    Welcome to the world of big boy football. You produce you get preferential treatment. You don’t you are shown the door. Meyer brought us 2 national championships and ran a clean program. Imagine what a 3 month investigation would turn up at Bama. LSU or Auburn

    • ken says:

      Probably not much more than they found here. I think Saban, Chizik and Miles all seem like decent guys and clean coaches. Auburn doesn’t let bobby What’s his name big time booster around their program or call the shots anymore, so that pretty much cleans them up.

  8. MAR says:

    I thank Urban for the trophies and great players we had under him. May he never have such success again…..

  9. Sam Wade says:

    Clean program according to ncaa, but not to the police!!! more than 30 arrests in 6 years is more than UM and FSU combined! and im a gator alumn,,, it doesnt look good, especially when he was 7-5 his last two seasons then quit!!

    • g8rgr8 says:

      @Sam FYI ’09 we were 13-1, ’10 8-5 and last year we had Muschchamp. So he was not 7-5 his last 2 seasons, otherwise he would have stayed retired after Tebow left…. You are right though it doesn’t look good for Urban. I wish him all the health complications possible.

  10. Gator John says:

    Depends on your definition of “clean program”. Seems like there is no love between UF and the GPD. I would bet most schools have a better relationship with their local law enforcement agencies to cover certain things up. Granted this investigation does not bring up any NCAA violations, it still makes the program look a little out of control during that period.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      it isn’t just the football program — GPD targets UF students in general and always has. They consider them transients and most are wealthier than locals (as well as vote in other counties) so they have always been higher priority targets. They did some research when U.F. was up to 35 arrests under Meyer and did find out that the arrest rate on the football team wasn’t much different over that period than the arrest rate on the stodent population as a whole.

      Not condoning the arrests, but they aren’t as out of line as it sounds just talking numbers.

  11. Gator Girl says:

    One of my good friends was on the ’08 team and I can corroborate alot of the sporting news story. Percy never practiced and my friend thought he was bipolar which could explain alot but Percy would simply refuse to practice many days. My friend told me that as far as presence went it was as if Percy wasnt on the team and would jsut show up game day. Also, Urban had his favorites that could do no wrong. I remember the Spike’s toe injury and asking my friend who said he got caught smoking weed and Urban was trying to protect him. Also, my friend was not in the Urban circle of trust. Urban would schedule special practices during my friend’s class schedule and when my friend would go to class and not some made up practice he would get sat and not be allowed to start since he didnt skip class.

  12. Gatorgrad79 says:

    All I have to say is CHARACTER always shows through in the end…you can deceive and cover up poor character with flashy results FOR AWHILE, but the shine wears off, and the rot within seeps out…

  13. Scooterp says:

    Sounds like most programs with out the cheating. As unflattering as this story depicts Meyer, I still thank he’s a great a coach and appreciate his time here (minus the last year). And to the guy who wished him health complications – you are a Douche.

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