There has been a lot of controversy this week over remarks Urban Meyer made to a Gator club in Orlando, how he said that any former players who criticize the program are not welcome in the football offices.
Suddenly, every eye turned to Shane Matthews, who was critical of Florida’s offensive attack in the fall. Meyer never mentioned Matthews by name and did not return a text message asking if that’s who he was referring to.
I know that Matthews was confronted by Meyer’s wife Shelley at one point last season and she wanted him to back off because it would hurt recruiting. I do some radio work with Shane and his criticism at the time was spot on. Florida was not attacking defenses the way either one of us thought the Gators should.
But there are a couple of things at work here. Actually, more than a couple.
1. Meyer made the same exact comments about criticism of the program during the barbecue for former players back in the summer. Some of the former players were taken aback by his comments then.
2. There’s a line that is blurred when you have former players talking about their teams. Do you want homerism on the radio? Of course not. It’s not unusual for former players to be critical of philosophies that are different from their own. But coaches are going to see that as a lack of loyalty.
3. There are other former players doing radio work in town — Chris Doering, Brady Ackerman, Travis McGriff. Was Meyer referring to them as well?
4. I’ve talked to Shane about this whole deal and he wants to talk to Meyer about it. When he was playing in the NFL, he’d have his wife put the phone to the TV or radio so he could follow Gator games while he was traveling. He is passionate about his love for the University of Florida. But he also has a job to do. It’s a difficult situation for any former players on the air. Meyer has made it clear of one thing — be loyal or be like everyone else.