Meyer tweaks UF legacy, but what a legacy it is


Published: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 4:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 4:16 p.m.

So I'm driving down 43rd Street getting ready to buy birthday presents for my daughter, Jennifer, and I get a text from a friend.

"Is Urban quitting again?"

And this was my reaction.

Maybe. Let me check.

When I got a call that Steve Spurrier was leaving UF after 12 seasons, I thought it was crazy talk. When someone sent me a text last December and told me Urban Meyer was leaving UF, I thought it was just a rumor.

But when I got this text, I knew it could be true.

Stunned?

Hardly.

Surprised?

Mildly.

Even though I asked Meyer directly in November in a private conversation if he was through after this season.

"No chance," he said. "And that's on the record."

Even though Meyer talked after the devastating loss in Tallahassee that he was going to "rebuild this thing the right way." On that night, you could see fire in his eyes for the first time this season.

You just got this sense all year that this could be the last one at UF for Urban. He was hardly the same guy who won two national titles.

I feel bad for Meyer, bad that this job took so much out of him that he had to quit twice. He probably should have stayed retired last December instead of allowing himself to be talked back into the job by strength coach Mickey Marotti, as he told Pete Thamel of the New York Times.

In essence, it was a wasted year.

Instead of bringing in a coach who could hit the ground running, Florida stumbled through a lost season with Meyer never looking quite right.

You think Jimbo Fisher is licking his chops? Florida and Miami don't have head coaches. He just completed a first season in which he humiliated them both. And the worm may have turned on the recruiting trail for Florida State.

You know how Meyer likes to say a player tweaked his knee when he suffers a minor injury. That's what this season did to his legacy. It tweaked it.

He still is the coach who brought you two of the best nights of your life whether you were in Glendale or Miami Gardens or watching on TV. He brought you two SEC championships when you wondered if you could ever win one again. He flushed the taste of Ron Zook out of your mouth.

There were a lot of great moments, a lot of great nights under Meyer. And that's what he should be remembered for by the Gator Nation.

Meyer struggled to embrace Gainesville because he rarely embraces anyone outside his family or his team. But it happened gradually. Unfortunately, when it finally did, health problems made him resign the first time.

This time? Who knows? If it was all about family, why did he come back for the 2010 season. Meyer is not the type to run away from a problem, and this season was certainly a problem.

In the end, Meyer had a great run and helped establish Florida as one of the top programs in the nation. One day, his name will be up on the Ring of Honor. Unfortunately, he'll also be a punch line. Someone is bound to tweet Thursday that Meyer has changed his mind.

But this time it's for good.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at http://Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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