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UF’s Meyer steps down — for good

December 9, 2010
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

GAINESVILLE (AP) - Florida coach Urban Meyer says he is leaving one of the premier jobs in college football for the second time to spend more time with his family.

In a campus news conference Meyer, said he wants to prioritize being a husband and father.

Meyer, 46, led Florida to two national titles but briefly resigned last December, citing health concerns, but returned the next day. He had been hospitalized with chest pains after the Gators lost to Alabama in last season's Southeastern Conference championship game.

"I don't have any second guesses about what we did last fall," Foley said. "He's at peace with his life. He wasn't at peace a year ago, and this institution helped him get there."

Nonetheless, Meyer's announcement caught players, fans and the rest of college football by surprise.

Meyer called assistant coaches, many of whom were on the road recruiting, earlier this week to relay the news. Quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler told the AP he was "stunned" and that no one saw this coming.

"We'll be fine," said Loeffler, adding that Meyer was planning to meet with his staff Wednesday night. "It happens in this profession. We're just happy for him. He's doing it the right way."

This time he did not mention his health being an issue, saying this time was completely different.

AOL FanHouse first reported the resignation.

Fellow coaches were quick to praise his efforts at Florida.

"The world of college football will miss Urban," said former USC coach Pete Carroll, who like Meyer was one of the decade's best college coaches but opted to leave his job - in Carroll's case for the NFL's Seahawks. "He did a great job coaching at Florida. He had major personal issues and health issues a year ago, and I'm sure that he did everything he could to fight it off. Now he's making decisions that are probably exactly what he needs to be doing. ... He brought a lot of excitement to Florida football, the SEC and all that. Everybody's going to miss him."

Meyer was hired away from Utah by Florida after he led the Utes to an undefeated season. In his second season in Gainesville, he led the Gators' to a national championship. Two seasons later he won another, the third time overall the school topped the final AP Top 25.

A bid for another national championship fell short in 2009, and the day after Christmas, Meyer surprisingly announced he was giving up the job. Just like now, he said he wanted to spend more time with his family, though he also said that he had health concerns.

Less than 24 hours later, he changed his mind and decided to instead take a leave of absence.

He was diagnosed with esophageal spasms and was taking prescription medication to treat it.

The leave of absence eventually turned into some extended vacation time.

Meyer scaled back in January - he didn't go on the road recruiting - but still worked steadily through national signing day. He returned for spring practice in March, but managed to take significant time off before and after.

He went to Hawaii with his wife, traveled to Rome and saw the pope, took a trip to Israel, visited the Masters golf tournament with his daughter and took in a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game.

He said it was the first offseason in which he stepped away for days at a time, but this season he had to replace Tim Tebow and several other stars who had gone on to the NFL, and the Gators struggled mightily.

Florida finished 7-5, the worst record of Meyer's 10-year head coaching career, which began at Bowling Green. It is the first time the Gators had lost five regular-season games since 1988.

The season ended with an embarrassing 31-7 defeat to Florida State, Meyer's first loss to the rival Seminoles.

Meyer's staff also underwent significant changes in the past few seasons, with both his offensive and defensive coordinators from the championship teams moving on to become head coaches.

Dan Mullen, who had been Meyer's quarterbacks coach since his days at Bowling Green, went to Mississippi State after Florida won the '08 championship.

After last season, defensive coordinator Charlie Strong left for Louisville.

Mullen has been speculated to be up to fill the vacancy at Miami, but now it's fair to ask if he will be pursued by the Gators.



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