Meyer to step aside
GAINESVILLE, Fla. ó While his coaching successes mounted and his tough-as-nails reputation grew, Urban Meyer admits there was one thing he didn’t pay much attention to ó his health.
That hit home when chest pains sent him to the hospital after Alabama beat his Florida Gators in the SEC championship game on Dec. 5.
And so on Saturday, exactly three weeks later, the 45-year-old Meyer shook all of college football by saying he was stepping down. He resigned after five seasons and two national titles. In so many words, he said he needed to get his priorities straight.
He will coach his final game at the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati on New Year’s Day.
He owns a 56-10 record at Florida that includes a 32-8 mark in league play and a school-record 22-game winning streak that was snapped by the Crimson Tide in the title game.
“I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years, and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program,” Meyer said in a statement. “I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family.”
Athletic director Jeremy Foley surely will move quickly to find a replacement, and the list of candidates could be long.
Among those sure to receive consideration: Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, Boise State’s Chris Peterson and TCU’s Gary Patterson. Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh and Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino could get calls, too.
Meyer consulted with his family, doctors, school president Bernie Machen and Foley before deciding it was in his best interest to focus on his health and family.
He has scheduled a news conference in New Orleans this afternoon.
“Coach Meyer and I have talked this through and I realize how hard this was for him to reach this decision,” Foley said. “But the bottom line is that Coach Meyer needed to make a choice that is in the best interest of his well-being and his family. I certainly appreciate what he has meant to the University of Florida, our football program and the Gator Nation. I have never seen anyone more committed to his players, his family and his program. Above all, I appreciate our friendship.
Although reports quickly surfaced that Meyer was suffering from, among other things, a stroke and a defective heart muscle, a person close to Meyer said they were false.
“He just had a wake-up call,” the person said. “He got scared and realized he can’t do it anymore. His tank is empty.”
Southern California 24, Boston College 13SAN FRANCISCO ó Matt Barkley threw touchdown passes to Stanley Havili on Southern Cal’s first two possessions and added a touchdown run in the fourth quarter.Damian Williams caught 12 passes for 189 yards in what could be his final game for the Trojans (9-4).
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Marshall 21, Ohio 17DETROIT ó Martin Ward ran for two touchdowns in the first half for Marshall (7-6).