Where does Meyer go from here?


Published: Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 11:38 p.m.

Despite the two national championships and three SEC title game appearances, Urban Meyer admits he failed during his six years in Gainesville.

You won't find that failure in his 60-18 record as Florida's coach or in the handful of players he's sent to the NFL.

It isn't in his annual domination in recruiting or in the way he separated Florida from its rivals.

For all of his accomplishments during his Florida tenure, Meyer finds his shortcomings when he looks at the accomplishments made by his two daughters, Nicki and Gigi, that he missed.

"At the end of the day, I'm very convinced that you should be judged on how you are as a husband and a father, not the bowl games you've won," Meyer said during his Wednesday press conference to announce his resignation. "I've not seen my two girls play high school sports. They're both very talented Division-1A volleyball players. I missed those four years."

As Meyer puts it, he "can't get that time back," but as he walks away from the short-lived dynasty he created, he'll attempt to make up for it by dedicating more time to his family.

Finding ways to better connect with and be a part of his family was the main reason for his decision to step down as the Gators' coach, and he'll now spend a great deal of time getting back to the regular things a father does.

For starters, Meyer intends to travel to Atlanta more to see Nicki, who plays for Georgia Tech's volleyball team. He'll swing down to Fort Myers to see Gigi, who signed with Florida Gulf Coast University on a volleyball scholarship as well.

Though his timing wasn't perfect, considering Florida still plays Penn State (7-5) in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, Meyer insists this was "as good a time as you can have" to walk away from a program that he took to new heights.

He'll make his final coaching appearance with the Gators (7-5) next month, but hasn't totally ruled out returning to the coaching ranks. As for an immediate return, Meyer quickly squashed that possibility with an emphatic "No" when asked Wednesday.

For the time being, the closest Meyer said he intends to come to coaching is trying his luck at becoming an assistant baseball coach on his son Nate's little league team.

"I haven't put a resume together in a long time, but I've had some help with the interview process," Meyer joked.

While Meyer intends to rebuild his parenting life, he'll leave some sad faces behind.

Senior center Mike Pouncey said players were surprised by Meyer's decision to leave, but all seem to support him and wish him and his family the best.

"Obviously, he has a great family and they'll enjoy his time off," Pouncey said.

But the man who hired Meyer back in 2004 might have the toughest time letting him go.

Meyer phoned Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley Saturday with thoughts of resigning. Unlike last year's decision, which was due to health issues, Meyer made it clear that this was purely about family and that he had "very deep" family discussions about his future.

Foley said he respected Meyer's decision and reason for his resignation, saying he felt Meyer was "at peace."

Foley let Meyer and his family know that they will forever remain a part of the Gator family, but he'll miss seeing his friend around the office and around the team.

"He won't be there. He's been there for six years," Foley said. "I've walked in there and we've talked about a million different things — good things, tough things, funny things — but he won't be there anymore and that's the toughest part about this conversation."

At least they'll still have early morning discussions in the driveway while grabbing the newspaper.

"He lives in the same subdivision, so he's not that far away," Foley said. "I will see him again."

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