Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My crazy Urban Meyer theory; Notre Dame dissed him

Unlike other reports about Urban Meyer's Christmas decision to resign as Florida's coach, then reverse himself after a single Sugar Bowl practice the very next day, this column does not rely on what the coach or anyone connected to the university has said over the past week. It does not rely on those often-used (and sometimes fabricated) "sources close to the Florida program." This is pure speculation as to why Meyer did what he did, but until answers are forthcoming that are more convincing than those given by Meyer during his pre-Sugar Bowl news conference, the truth could indeed lie somewhere amongst the speculators. Some believe the truth points north, to South Bend, Indiana.

After Tyrone Willingham was fired by Notre Dame following the 2004 season, one of the names at the top of the list of prospective replacements was Urban Meyer, who had just coached Utah to an undefeated season. Meyer, who is Catholic, used to be an assistant with the Irish and has on a number of occasions described Notre Dame as his "dream job." But for whatever reason, probably money since we are discussing college football coaches, Meyer instead was lured to the opening at Florida. Since coming to Gainesville, Meyer had said several times that he would never leave Florida for South Bend. Just last month, Meyer said he would stay with the Gators "as long as they'll have me."

That, however, was before Meyer's Gators, ranked number one at the time, were decimated by Alabama in what appeared to be a changing-of-the-guard moment in the SEC Championship. Having won two BCS titles in five seasons and with the best player in Florida history about to leave the program, Meyer had to be wondering what there was left to prove in the Swamp. Perhaps he waited for the call from South Bend to come again as Charlie Weis's time neared it's end. Sure, he said he would never leave Florida, but college football coaches say that all the time, and who believes them anymore? Apparently, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick believed it when Meyer said it.

During the search for Weis's successor, of all the names bandied about, the one name you did not hear mentioned was that of Urban Meyer. That surprised some of us, and I believe it stunned Meyer himself. It doesn't appear that Swarbrick even bothered to put out a feeler for Mr. "Dream Job", and that if Meyer attempted to contact Swarbrick to show interest, Meyer was ignored. Perhaps Notre Dame still stung from being passed over by Meyer five years ago. Perhaps Swarbrick took Meyer at his word that he would never leave Gainesville. Mr. Swarbrick apparently doesn't know that college football coaches are the best liars in the nation, well, next to Members of Congress. Then again, new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was surprisingly honest for the most part about being courted by Swarbrick while Kelly was still at Cincinnati. Maybe Notre Dame is one of the few schools left which wants some truthfulness from their football coach.

Meyer does have, apparently, some legitimate health problems. But the way this story has unfolded so far, there is no way that health is the only reason for his resignation and subsequent flip-flop. The Notre Dame theory may sound far-fetched and may not even be close to the truth, but it is as good a theory as any that has been given, at least until Meyer himself gives us the truth and does so convincingly.

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