Ten questions with Florida coach Urban Meyer as season two begins

University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer in his office Thursday, July 25, 2006.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
On Saturday, Urban Meyer will coach his 13th football game at the University of Florida. It seems like he's been around a lot longer than that. As he prepared this week for Southern Miss and the start of his second season as the Gator coach, Meyer took the time to sit down with Sun sports columnist Pat Dooley for 10 Questions.
Pat Dooley: Urban, you've talked about your level of comfort as a coach in your second season. What about your comfort level with the city of Gainesville after being here for 20 months?
Urban Meyer: We love the city. Nobody cares if I'm comfortable because of my schedule, but my family loves it and my wife loves it here. It's everything Christine Donovan said it would be. Me, I could live in a tent so my comfort level isn't important. But it is real important to me that my family is comfortable where we're living and they are more than comfortable.
PD: During the course of a game, how many plays are called by offensive coordinator Dan Mullen and how many are called by you?
UM: We game plan a lot of the play calls on Tuesday and Wednesday so he's calling a majority of the plays from our sheet. But he makes most of the play calls. We do talk after each series about what we want to do on the next series, what direction we want to go.
PD:Was your first year at Florida more difficult or easier than you thought it would be in any way?
UM: Probably a little more difficult just because of the time demands. If you evaluated the amount of time I spent away from my family as a 36-year-old coach at Bowling Green, it would probably be the same, maybe more. But now as a 42-year-old coach, the wear and tear is a lot greater.
PD: Was there anything about coaching in the SEC last year that was surprising?
UM: It didn't surprise me but it reaffirmed what I thought it would be like, going on the road. The quality of the defenses in this league surprised me a little bit. I was surprised at the scores of some of the games, 6-3 and 12-6 and so forth.
PD: A year ago, the players were saying they bought in, but there was a sense that not all of them did. What percentage do you think bought in last year and what about this year?
UM: That's what I stayed awake at night wondering. In the middle of the year, when it hit the fan, it wasn't very good. There was a lot of selfishness. I've never had so many calls from parents saying "I've been promised this." It just wore me out. That was really hard and new. I think it's cleared up. I'm not getting those calls. Last year, I'd have gotten 30 of them by now. I think by the end of last season, it was about 90 percent. Right now, the mature guys understand. But for a lot of the freshmen, it's not like they've made the decision not to buy in, but they're still hiding in the tall weeds.
PD: What do you see as the biggest problem in college football today?
UM: The dot-coms. I think it filters down from the NFL. You've got 17 and 18-year-old kids put in situations that are comical. You've got Heisman talk and All-America talk and people wondering if your third-string tailback is coming back for his senior year. We have to remember what our clientele is and think about their situation.
PD:You talked this week about your team avoiding distractions which doesn't seem to be a problem for you. Is it that you don't listen to what you have called the "Gator nonsense" or that you don't care?
UM: I don't care and I don't listen. Part of my job is that I have to hear some of it, but my time is so regimented I don't worry about it. People ask me about this or that and I don't know about it. And I don't care.
PD: What do you listen to in your car on your way to work?
UM: Jimmy Buffett. Jimmy Buffett or sports radio.
PD:How much college football do you watch during a season?
UM: I used to watch a lot. Every Thursday and Friday night I watch it. When I was at Utah, we played on some Thursdays so I watched Saturday and I watch during open dates.
PD: Can a big-play offense and taking care of the football co-exist?
UM:Absolutely. We did it for four years. USC has done it for five years. You check and our offense and USC were both in the top five in big plays and turnover margin. We did well in protecting the ball here last year. Now we need the big plays.

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