Urban Meyer Leaves UF to Protect His Legacy
Urban Meyer is not retiring because of chest pains or other health problems. He's leaving because he doesn't want to rebuild the Gators' football program. He announced he was going to leave when Tim Tebow left last year, but changed his mind shortly before the Southeastern Conference Championship Game because he knew his story about being sick wasn't flying. Meyer is leaving the University of Florida because he doesn't want to tarnish his legacy.
This is not the type of coach who wants to be part of rebuilding a program after a couple of down years. At the University of Florida, it is only going to get worse before it gets better again. I don't think Meyer wants to put his family through the grinder that comes with losing, especially in today's social media age.
I can understand this. He says he wants to spend more time with his family and watch his daughters play high school volleyball. He clearly doesn't want to subject them to the nasty comments of asshole fans on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
These days, it's virtually impossible for a college coach to accomplish the longevity of a guy like Penn State's Joe Paterno. The only one who comes close right now is Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer. In today's win-now college football world, you get canned after five years like University of Miami's Randy Shannon, or you quit like Urban Meyer after seven years of riding on top.
Still, quitting is unacceptable. He's abandoning the kids he promised he would develop from last year's number one recruiting class. He's sending the message that he doesn't believe he can win championships with these players. And Meyer is leaving with a stain on his legacy -- 30 of his players have been arrested in a five-year span.
He was also caught up in the controversy over quarterback Cam Newton. Fox News recently reported the star player left UF after three separate instances of cheating. Newton transferred to a small college and then to Auburn University, where he presently plays. Meyer has denied involvement in any of the scandals surrounding Newton, but I suspect he knows something because he didn't vote for the quarterback as the Southeastern Conference player of the year.
If Newton had remained a Gator, Meyer would be protecting him the same way he did Tebow. That's the kind of man -- and coach -- he is.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.