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Florida Gators' coach Urban Meyer calls it quits--right?

It's that time of year again. The great game of college football musical chairs is underway, as head coaches get fired or decide to resign and university officials scramble to fill the jobs. Only this year, there was a bit more of a screech when the music stopped: University of Florida coach, Urban Meyer, announced yesterday he was stepping down to spend more time with his family.

Meyer, who also quit for all of 24 hours this time last year, due to health concerns, may sound like he has a case of Brett Favre-itis. But he insists this time he has no plans to rejoin coaching in the "immediacy." Still, the rumor mill in the sports world was immediately skeptical. Just two days earlier, the Denver Broncos, which drafted Meyer protege Tim Tebow, fired its coach, Josh McDaniels, leaving that job open and Meyer a tantalizing replacement. The Associated Press is acknowledging the speculation that Meyer's quitting is really a first step toward the NFL. CBS analyzes the chances it could happen. And ESPN's Pat Forde hints at the question here.

Why this matters beyond the NCAA gridiron is simple. We seem unready to believe that truly successful leaders would ever put family before their careers. In the corporate world, resigning a plum CEO job to "spend more time with your family" is typically thought of as code for "the board wanted to fire me but we came to this agreement to help me save face." And in the high-stakes world of elite college coaching jobs, the same rationale is similarly questioned, if for different reasons: Something as lacking in ambition as quitting to spend more time with your family must be a stand-in explanation for something else.

Granted, the doubters have plenty of reason to do so. Meyer is only 46, and at the peak of his career. The timing of the two exits is either oddly coincidental or a little too uncanny. And Meyer did just lead the Gators to a 7-5 season this year, his worst as a head coach. That could make other jobs look a little more inviting right about now.

But at least during the press conference, Meyer did not betray any hints that he might have bigger ambitions up his sleeve. He called his two daughters, who he's never seen play in their own sports, his "best friends." He'll be walking away from millions left on his contract. And the man did have enough health issues that he tried to quit only one year ago.

I highly doubt Florida will have been Meyer's last coaching gig, or that it'll take him long to find his next one. But the pressure cooker that is any top leadership job is indeed stressful enough for one to want some time off to spend with the people they love but never see. Some CEOs are getting more comfortable with admitting the stress of the job, as Pfizer's Jeff Kindler did earlier this week. Why can't elite college coaches do so too?

By Jena McGregor

 |  December 9, 2010; 12:10 PM ET |  Category:  Career Management , Change management , Personal Leadership Journey , Sports leadership , Succession planning Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Why has this stupid story been at the bottom left of the wp.com home page for more than 3 days now?? Geez, move onto something else already. Is WP that hard up for content?

Posted by: cpantelias | December 12, 2010 5:00 PM

Let the man do what he needs to do. His decision does not impact my life or humanity.
Why must the media and public know everything?

Posted by: sdl63 | December 12, 2010 9:16 AM

He doesn't owe anybody an explanation, but if he says anything at all why not just be honest and tell the truth? That would be a breath of fresh air for a change.

Posted by: hit4cycle | December 12, 2010 7:03 AM

He says he's more interested in being remembered as a great husband and father, than a great football coach. He says he wants to stay in Gainesville and enjoy his family.

The new coach has been named, Will Muschamp, and the GATOR NATION will rise again. Peace out. Sorry to the haters.

Posted by: g8rsig1 | December 11, 2010 9:25 PM

These sports show commentators have nothing better to do than make up issues that they have no knowledge of. ESPN (3 three channels) and other sports networks must fill air space 24/7. They just throw things out there. If it sticks, great. If not, its something to talk about.

Posted by: GBED989 | December 11, 2010 9:17 PM

Goodbye and good riddance. he won't be missed

Posted by: mre320 | December 11, 2010 5:26 PM

Urban is set. Why not take a break. Why is it so hard to believe that he would want to take a break at 46? Is he retiring? Probabaly not. But, as Gator fan, I would rather have him be happy and healthy, than suffer a heart attack.Now, there will be those who say Aha, if he comes back in two years. I say, leave the guy along. Some coaches wait too long to leave, and some programs are not in the SEC...

Posted by: bake2011 | December 11, 2010 12:04 PM

I'd take him at his word. He is a big family man. I've watched him coach for awhile. He wasn't as animated this year, if for no other reason than his health. Everyone wants to think that he didn't have Tim Tebow to give him a winning record this year, so now he is gone.Or that since he couldn't keep Cam Newton he felt lost!!! Give me a break.He didn't go after Newton harder because he knew that the cheating thing was going to bite him in the butt.Oh,and bye the way, Meyer had a National championship without Tebow.
Urban is a gifted coach, and someday he will probably coach again( maybe Notre Dame), the thrill and grind is hard to give up. But he won't do a "Nick Saban" on the Gators ( like Nick did to the Dolphins). He is a Gator through and through. He was making alot of money at Florida, more than some NFL coaches and most college coaches. He tried to delegate duties this year for health reasons.
I'll take his word for it. It must be a good feeling for all the fans of the teams he beat up for all those years to see his down year and extrapolate that into his stepping down. A coach of his calibar doesn't quit because the going got tough.
I hope he comes back to coaching, somewhere ( hopefully not in the SEC)because he is very talented.

Posted by: bake2011 | December 11, 2010 11:50 AM

I coached high school soccer for 15 years. I know this is a different level, yet the time commitment is immense. The family "excuse" is not an excuse, it is the truth. Coaching takes you away from your family like only a few other jobs can. Taking a break for what's important in life is never an excuse.

Posted by: tmacerollo | December 11, 2010 9:37 AM

I live 11 miles from the 'swamp' and the 'Gator-Nation' and being locally associated with the football fever that rants in this area I can say that my feelings about Meyer leaving is that he was ill last year and recieved warnings from medical doctors that he was ill.
The push of the 'Bull Gators' (that is what the top dollar football guys here are called) could care less about the health issue,it is the SEC and the golden gifts that winners are appluaded with...so they sweetened the deal and coaxed him to stay!
As a former employer myself,when an employee is not happy with him/herself or has other problems in life (such as health) then motivation decreases.
I suffered a serious stroke at age 46 due to my being pushed to keep up the good work,why can't others see that in Meyers situation instead of saying he is just flubbing to move on to NFL.
Hey...you guys up in DC ought to know enough about the Gator coaches heading to NFL fame,our former coach Spurrier was great here,but this is FLORIDA,not DC. And Spurrier is back in college football.
Meyer has concerns in his heart for his health,more so than being able to put his heart in the team.
To me (and I'm just a Florida Gator) that is the reason of the sour season and the decline of interest the coach has!
What a title...coach!

Posted by: jayfherron | December 11, 2010 7:23 AM

It is important to remember that high profile not with standing..Myer is still a football coach. He is not making decisions that affect the nation...only the college where he works.
Myer has been to the top twice winning the national championship. However, the SEC is a pressure cooker and places tremendous stress on a coach to win. If he goes back to coaching..it may well be at a smaller school where not winning the national championship is considered a failure.

He has no experience coaching at the NFL level. It would be too big a leap for him to make that jump. Any job he might get would be with a weak team. He can`t just go out and recruit potential star players like he did at Florida or Utah. Put it all together...failure as an NFL coach seems very likely. How many college coaches, not named Jimmy Johnson, have successfully pulled it off?

Posted by: blazerguy234 | December 11, 2010 7:16 AM

Maybe he's worried that he runs a dirty program at Florida, perhaps he didn't pay Cam Newton enough and now he's afraid he'll get caught. Wouldn't be the first time a coach bailed before an investigation turned up something (USC). The NFL beckons, really? We all know how well college coaches fare in the NFL (Jimmy Johnson not withstanding).

Posted by: mdoughten | December 11, 2010 12:30 AM

Urban? Too tightly wrapped? Ya think? Everytime the 'Noles burned the Gator D for another score during the recent 31-7 arsewhooping, that little vein in his forehead looked like it would burst. Urban's lucky he got out when he did. He was another humbling defeat away from an aneurysm.

Posted by: rcupps | December 10, 2010 10:15 PM

Surprised he'd never seen his daughters play at their sports. He'll be sorry later. Also, he'd be well advised to develop a sense of humor. He seems very tightly wrapped.

Posted by: hit4cycle | December 10, 2010 6:54 PM

Everyone is always so skeptical on the Net.
Why does there have to be an ulterior motive?
Because he's a millionaire, and millionaires DO NOT put family before career?
He's only 46...he's not done yet....he's way too young to retire.
Give the guy a break and, let him do what he wants to do without all this Monday morning
quarterbacking.

Posted by: mikald | December 10, 2010 5:28 PM

I'd say take the man at his word and forget about it.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | December 10, 2010 2:27 PM

I despise the SEC but respect Meyer as a head coach. Maybe after last years health scare, the addition of the Newton saga shedding a bit of light on big time recruiting practices and losing his "adopted" son Tebow to graduation he's actually decided to enjoy his millions and do it with his family rather than push himself into an early grave where everybody loses and the worst pain is for his children.

Maybe it's a bit of a Pete Carroll, nervous breakdown, and poor year combination. He's set for life. Why not enjoy it?

Posted by: theobserver4 | December 10, 2010 1:11 PM

Even Chris Fowler (College GameDay) seemed to wonder why this so called "family" man leaves with the worst record and no BCS hopes...ummmmm. I would have believed Urban if he stayed gone after intitial health scare or AFTER he won a bowl game but to leave after Cammiegate and team's low perf shows it wasn't "really" about the fam. Plus if his children were sooooooo talented and passionate about their sports I have a hard time believing their dad wouldn't show up to their big sports events when he's a famous coach???? Nice try Urban but as you see WE don't believe you hahahaha

Posted by: MDlady2 | December 10, 2010 12:28 PM

I too predict that Meyer will become the next coach of the Denver Broncos and they will bring in John Elway as GM. Meyer has big shoes to fill in Denver because Bronco fans have very high expectations of their coach. He may be the only one who could actually get Tebow ready to QB an NFL team because he is nowhere ready right now. That remains to be seen.

Posted by: westerner2 | December 10, 2010 11:33 AM

Cause he cried wolf for a full day less then a year ago... cause McDaniels coaches Tebow and he just got fired... cause UoF is getting ready to get hammered with NCAA Violations (aka, Pete Carrol from USC)!? Take your pick...

My bets are he's coaching the Broncos next year in the NFL's attempt to find the next Jimmy Johnson!!!!

But, in my opionion, I think he'll be more of a Steve Spurrier then a JJ!!!!

Posted by: bussman24 | December 10, 2010 9:59 AM

Does anyone at the Post actually read these comments? If so, why is obvious spam left up?

Posted by: Garak | December 10, 2010 9:50 AM

Maybe Mr. Meyer is tired of dealing with all of it and just wants out.

He has/had a most generous salary at Univ. FL, doesn't appear to be wasteful; he probably has a goodly bit set by.

Posted by: rmlwj1 | December 10, 2010 9:01 AM

uh salbright that would be Peyton, not Payton,Secondly unless you are a Gator who really gives a rats ass? The only other people that care are the media and FSU people who finally beat the Gators and want to dream their way into believing that this years long overdue FSU victory was the reason,wow talk about delusional. The only thing that is more ridiculous than college football coaches is college football fans,especially those from the SEC. The 3 biggest institutions in the South are Churches,College Football Programs and Liquor Stores and not necessarily in that order. Good Lord you people need a life.

Posted by: mfowler1 | December 10, 2010 12:18 AM

bill cowher did the same thing as meyer. vermeil did a modified version of it as did dungy. what is the problem with an already wealthy coach (who apparently will get his millionaires tax cut extended) taking some time off to spend more time sharing his childrens activities. my wife and i missed too much with ours and are probably overcompensating by being anywhere our grandchildren want us to be.

Posted by: george32 | December 9, 2010 9:52 PM

univerty newagent? UF grad I take it.

Posted by: rcupps | December 9, 2010 8:16 PM

Sorry, newagent99, it ain't Free Shoes U with the arrest problem. Thirty--that's 30--UF players have been arrested during Meyer's tenure. Even St. Bobby couldn't match that.

Posted by: Garak | December 9, 2010 6:18 PM

"The Gators have one of the highest arrest rate for players and a lot of them drop out of the University."

i think you've confused them with FSU.. free shoes un iverty

Posted by: newagent99 | December 9, 2010 6:07 PM

As a Seminole fan, I'd like to hope that the 31-7 shallacking the Noles handed Urban's team had something to do with his desire to spend more time with the family.

Posted by: rcupps | December 9, 2010 4:01 PM

I hate the "family" excuse. With one daughter in college and one on the way next year, what is he going to do to spend more time with them, move into their dorm rooms? His younger son will also be in school and doing his own things, so the spending time with the family excuse just seems silly. If his kids were newborns or toddlers i could maybe buy it, but not at his kids ages. And really what kids his kids ages want to spend more time with their dad?

Posted by: weljr65 | December 9, 2010 3:48 PM

I have news for Mr. Meyer. The NFL is not college, and Tim Tebow is not Payton Manning.

Posted by: salbright | December 9, 2010 2:54 PM

Live from Los Angeles! My HOMEBOYS in Los Angeles told me the reason why Urban Meyer resigned was not health related but from a lot of player misconduct at the University of Florida. The Gators have one of the highest arrest rate for players and a lot of them drop out of the University. See Cam Newton of Auburn University who was under Urban Meyer. Sources from the HOMIES also say there is possible NCAA recruiting violations at the school. Urban Meyer left under good terms because he was a winning coach and will probably find another Coaching job in the future!

Posted by: big_bors | December 9, 2010 1:39 PM

Love this question. I think we don't believe him because 1) we all know you have to be a hard-driving crazy person to accept that kind of job/pressure in the first place, and those kinds of people thrive on the chaos of that job; 2) we all know someone who at the top, and we all know you have to pry the power from their cold dead hands to get them to release it; 3) if you are a coach of that calibur, you barely know your family because you work an insane schedule and 4) oh, right, there is that little thing about the millions left on the table. Anything is possible, but I am not buying it.

At the top of the Division I heap, those coaches would sell their grandmothers for a QB with accuracy. It is such a dirty business, it's just hard to believe that coach had an attack of the "what really matters" and is giving it all up. There may be a little time off to wash off the stink of a 7-5 season before he takes his next job, but there will be a next job, trust me.

Posted by: blackandgreen | December 9, 2010 1:15 PM

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