Last December, we at MrSEC.com were worried about Urban Meyer’s health. When word broke that the coach was stepping down due to chest pains and a late-night trip to the hospital, we felt he was doing the right thing in walking away from the game while he still could.
When he decided — about 24 hours later — to return, we suggested that he might be making a mistake. In our view, the man was risking his life when he had youth and financial security on his side. “Just walk away, man,” was our take at the time.
But then came some clarification on the health front. Meyer had been suffering from esophageal spasms. Painful? Yes. A heart attack? No.
Our initial take that he was making a mistake in returning to the sideline took on a different look. It looked wrong. Meyer was healthy enough to coach.
Only now we know that we were right for an altogether different reason. Meyer should have stayed retired the first time around because now he’s damaged his reputation and left Florida in an even greater lurch.
Had Meyer walked away last year he would have left a program that had just gone 26-2 in the previous two seasons. The Gator program also looked to be on solid ground with a “sure-thing” quarterback and a gaggle of five-star recruits waiting to pick up the baton.
Now, Meyer is leaving a program that just went 7-5. No one knows who will be at quarterback next season. No one knows what the offense will look like next season. And that was with Meyer. Now take him out of the mix and the Gators look as vulnerable as the Gators can possibly look.
With that recruiting base, that tradition of winning, all that cash and an AD like Jeremy Foley, I wouldn’t expect Florida to vulnerable for long. But I wouldn’t have expected them to go 7-5 this season, either.
Meyer has also explained away the health concerns that might have worked to ease his departure. Now it appears that the man is simply leaving because he can’t stand losing or can’t bear the burden of trying to fix things in Gainesville.
That’s not fair, of course, but it is the perception.
Had Meyer left last December for health reasons, he would have been hailed as a man who left the game on top. By coming back and revealing that his life was not in danger, he now goes out as a man who’s bailing on an ailing program.
A lot can happen in 12 months. Turns out we were right last December after all… for all the wrong reasons.