My wife woke me up with the news this morning that Urban Meyer decided to retire at Ohio State after the Rose Bowl.
All I could think about was that I’ve lived this story before.
Back in 2009, it was stunning news. In 2010, it was a surprise, but not totally a shock. It was hardly a stunner Tuesday after we watched him coach this year.
There were times when he looked like his head was going to explode and he was trying to hold the top of his head so it wouldn’t come loose. That’s no way to live and he finally saw the light.
Of course, there is going to be plenty of cynicism because of his last two exits. The Browns. Notre Dame, Auburn? Where will he resurface next?
“I believe I will not coach again,” he said.
And yet, he said he would never coach anywhere but Florida when he left here. And he said he would coach at Florida in 2011. And he said this year he would be coaching next year.
So I get why you should be skeptical and make the easy jokes.
Nobody can blame you.
But it seems clear that the health problems that have plagued him throughout his career never went away. No matter how you feel about Meyer, nobody wants to see him collapse on the sidelines and be carted away.
Hopefully, he gets it, that a man with a cyst on his brain should be doing something other than living in the high-pressure world of elite football. And that if he sits out a year and feels better it doesn’t mean the problems have disappeared.
Make no mistake about it, this is all about the way he feels when he is stressed out and it’s not pretty. It is interesting that he said he is leaving Ohio State because the program is in great shape but he left Florida because it was broken.
Which is why Gator fans are still struggling to forgive him and many never will.
That’s not the case with the Buckeye Nation. He was always one of them. Here, it was more about his record and the resume he was building. There was always a disconnect at UF.
All we know for sure is that he is a tremendous coach, one of the best of all time (186-32 at four schools is ridiculous). The legacy he leaves behind, if he truly is leaving it behind for good, is a mixed bag of arrests, the whole Zach Smith drama, his suspension that resulted and incredible on the field success.
And for a control freak, his inability to control what people think about him has to sting.
Meyer is a complex person to say the least. My relationship with him was always tremendous, which put me in a minority among the writers in this state. I often defended him leaving UF and appealed to Gator fans to remember the championships he won.
But after the events that came out this preseason, I was done.
Still, when he retired today, I sent him a text wishing him well in the future. Not surprisingly, his cell had been changed and it went undelivered.
I wondered out loud that — if he is truly finished as a coach — if somewhere down the road he might get into the Ring of Honor. He’s the only person eligible who has not been inducted.
“Time heals a lot of wounds,” my wife said to me.
Yes, but the wound that really needs to be healed is the one that is in his head. Football will be just fine without Urban Meyer. So will Ohio State. And I’m more sure he can be fine without football in his life.
I hope he has figured that out.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.