Urban Meyer

USA Today

Urb’s Latest Retirement

It might be the end of a run for a guy who was a very good coach. And that’s it.

December 04, 2018 - 9:19 am
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Huge news in college football today and it’s coming from the coaching circles. It was something that had been bubbling below the surface for a little while, a hint here, a rumor there, but if you were paying attention, you could see it coming for a while. And the expectation is that it will be official today: Scott Satterfield is the new Louisville head coach

Yep. I know. In some ways, it feels like a shock and yet it others, it makes so much sense. When you look at what he’s done at App State and the way he’s built that program, he has a track record. And the guy can coach. Plus, he’s a good talent evaluator, which is something that’s key at Louisville, because as good as that program has been in the past, they’re now having to deal with a monster in Clemson.

Oh, and there was some other college football coaching news today. Urban Meyer is stepping down after the Rose Bowl. 

Ok, cool. Excuse me for not losing my bleep. Sorry, if I’m not choking up over the retirement of a legend. 

Why? Well, because we’ve been here before with Meyer. A couple of times. That’s why. 

Remember, after the 2009 SEC title game loss, when Meyer went to the hospital with chest pains, thinking he was having a heart attack, and resigned. Only to come change his mind a few hours later after being at a “spirited practice” with his players.

And remember when he retired from Florida one year later to spend more time with his family? Only to take a television gig and then the Ohio State job a few months later?

And that when he came back, he talked about how he didn’t like the state of college football at the end of his time in Florida. A state of college football, I might add, that he played a role in creating with one Gator after another being arrested. Just another step in Meyer’s career and another bizarre, unnecessary half-truth or lie about his motivation.  

That’s why everyone and their brother is coming up with hilarious jokes about why Clay Helton should be nervous because Meyer might want the SC job or why Auburn might be a good fit once Meyer decides he doesn’t like retirement. The first person with that joke was kind of funny: now it’s just lame. And played. And tired. You know. Sort of like Meyer himself. Don’t get me wrong, The guy can coach, no doubt. Hell of a coach. But if this summer didn’t prove that the emperor has no clothes away from football, I’ve got nothing for you. 

If you have any doubts about whether you can believe Urban Meyer when he says, well, anything, fire up the VCR and pop in a video from Big Ten Media Days and watch him answer questions about Zach Smith, the long-time assistant with a long-time history of domestic violence allegations. 

And then pop in a tape from when it was announced that Meyer would be suspended for three games for how he handled that situation. And how he and AD Gene Smith apologized to “Buckeye Nation” multiple times for how they handled it and Courtney Smith zero times. And then when asked about it directly, Meyer said “I’m sorry we’re in this situation.” And then look at the sign on the wall that claims one of his core values is “treat women with respect.”

So why is he stepping down now? Man, who knows. Ryan Day, who will take over as head coach, did a good job in Meyer’s absence at the beginning of the season. 

And there’s no doubt that Meyer has health issues. There’s a cyst on his brain that was diagnosed two decades ago. If I’m keeping my Urban Meyer stories straight, it was this cyst on the brain that requires him to take medication that causes him to lie about and forget about certain key details of domestic violence allegations. Do I have that right? 

It’s hard to keep track of that because I’m guessing that Meyer can tell you the details of every play ever called against Michigan, but according to the investigation into the Zach Smith situation, the investigators reported: “We also learned during the investigation that Coach Meyer has sometimes had significant memory issues in other situations where he had prior extensive knowledge of events. He has also periodically taken medicine that can negatively impair his memory, concentration, and focus.”

Never mind that this is the same guy who once claimed he could remember every single play from both the 08 and 09 SEC TITLE GAMES.  YET WHEN IT CAME TIME TO RECALL DETAILS OF ONE OF THE IMPORTANT EVENTS OF HIS TENURE, HE HAS NO RECOLLECTION AT ALL.  YOU KNOW…BECAUSE OF HIS MEDS.   SURE. GREAT. 

Anyway, that cyst required surgery in 2014. When you start talking brain surgery, actual brain surgery, that’s a serious, serious health problem. And there was one shot after another of him on the sideline this year, looking very old and in a lot of pain.  

And if that’s the reason for stepping down, it’s a good one. But then again, it’s kind of hard to trust Urban Meyer. Strike that – it’s impossible to trust Urban Meyer, especially when Urban Meyer is talking about Urban Meyer. 

So, the question is, is he retiring? Or is he just quitting Ohio State? Will he coach again? Who knows? I just know that if Urban Meyer says Urban Meyer will never coach again, I’m getting a second opinion. 

And all of this means that Ohio State got the worst of both worlds. They sacrificed their reputation to keep Urban Meyer at the beginning of the season and he leaves at the end of the season. Congrats. You sold your soul for a 29-point loss to Purdue and a trip to the Rose Bowl.  Hope that was worth it. 

And if Ryan Day is as good as everyone in Columbus thinks he is, they could’ve skipped all of this drama and forced Meyer out at the start of the season, given Day the keys, and made a statement about who and what Ohio State is. They’d have been seen as leaders. But they didn’t. Well done. You just played yourselves. 

The problem with Urban Meyer is Urban Meyer. It would be so much easier to talk about the three national championships, the 9 losses in 7 years at Ohio State, the total domination of Michigan, the fact that he was the only guy before Dabo who could claim to be on the same pedestal as Saban, all of those things, if it wasn’t for the fact that Urban Meyer is so Urban Meyer.

And that means that it’s not enough for him to be the smartest person in the room, he has to be the most moral person in the room. And he has to be able to lecture everyone about that.

So the only truly fair reaction to this news is to acknowledge that this is Jim Harbaugh’s biggest win since he went to the Super Bowl with the 49ers. Time to breakout a new pair of khakis and a tall glass of milk, because now he won’t have to be embarrassed by Urban Meyer any more. 

But just remember, Michigan fans, no matter what Jim Harbaugh does now, it comes with an asterisk. Because when Urban Meyer was there, Harbaugh could not get over. 

Unless of course, Ohio State has a “spirited practice” today and Meyer decides he wants to come back. Or that this retirement isn’t actually going to happen or he doesn’t want to spend more time with his family. Or whatever. 

So I’m not going to write a complete eulogy on Urban Meyer, because I’m not sure this is the end. But when someone is a great person, people frequently say, he’s a great coach, but a better man. It’s the highest form of praise. And if this is the end of Urban Meyer, it’s the end of a run from a guy who was a very good coach. And that’s it. Not the Leader or molder of men or great moral figure he thinks is: just a great coach. And that’s it. If this really is the end, and I’m really not sure it is.