Shelley Meyer doesn’t understand Urban hatred


Shelley Meyers, shown in this 2012 file photo, criticized SEC and UF fans in a recent interview for Bucknuts.com. (Special to the Guardian)

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 3:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 3:41 p.m.

Shelley Meyer wants to make one thing clear — she loves the Gators.

"People come up to me and say I'm a Gator and I always high-five them," she said. "I root and root for the Gators. I still love the Gators."

The wife of Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer stirred the pot last week when the Ohio State fan website Bucknuts published an interview with her in which she was critical of some Florida fans.

Shelley Meyer told The Sun on Friday that she certainly was not trying to paint the fan base with a broad brush.

"All of my comments are about message board people," she said. "I still go to Gainesville four times a year. Nobody ever says anything mean to me. What I care about are the people down there who love us and know us. The people who hate us I don't even know.

"I just wish people would get over it. I wish we could have been there 12 years. I'm the most bummed that we weren't there 12 years."

Asked why she bothers reading message boards, Mrs. Meyer said, "Because I still care about the Gators and want to see how they're doing."

In the interview, the wife of the former coach said she was bothered by the hatred spewed toward her husband, especially because Meyer won two national championships at Florida.

"Well, what I learned was that Florida fans, there's a lot of them and people want to brag on their team," she told the website. "They want to be able to brag on their team. Now, when we first went down there and we were winning and we were winning those national championships, Urban was the best thing ever.

"But when it's not going good or something doesn't go the way they want, they will turn in a second. Now, to be fair, there's a lot of fans across the country that are like that – and I'm sure there's some Ohio State people that could do that, too.

"But, here is my perception (about Florida fans): I think they feel like they were kind of left at the altar. They feel a betrayal, even though they were so mad at him about how our last season (2010) went. You can't please them. You can't please all fans anywhere; you can't. And I've just accepted that and I love when our fans are behind us and support us and I love that they love their team, but we can't take it personally.

"Because, not one person that is close to us (from their time in Florida) has ever come up and said anything bad. ‘Why did you leave? You faked it. You weren't sick. You had this Ohio State thing lined up the entire time.' I would hear that all the time and I was like ‘Uh, no.' Because I was not coming here. So, trust me, that was not planned. So, the people who are critical of us, it's not the people who know us. It's the people who aren't even around the program. They just want their team to win and whoever can get their team to win, that's who they're for. And if you can't do it or if you left them, then they'll hate you."

On Friday, she told The Sun that the hatred toward her husband is mind-boggling.

"I never want to put anything between me and Florida," she said. "But people hurt us so bad."

She also commented on the difference between the fanbases in the SEC and the Big 10. The passion shown by SEC fans is credited as one of the reasons the conference is considered the best in college football.

But, as the trees at Toomer's Corner found out, it can be over-the-top passion.

"It's less hostile here than at Florida," she told Bucknuts. "I mean, the SEC as a whole is a more-hostile feeling to me. I thought that ever since we went down there. It's just meaner.

"Now, I know ‘The Team Up North' versus Ohio State game is pretty mean; everybody is pretty mean when that game rolls around. It's extremely competitive, but it's just not as mean (as the SEC). Not as dirty and mean. I hate to say that, but that's just how it is in the South. College football is everything down there."

On Friday, she said that she was simply trying to point out the differences between the two conferences.

"The Big 10 isn't like that," she said. "That's just my opinion. There is not that feel here. The intensity in the competition (in the SEC) is incredible."

Pat Dooley is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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