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The Sporting News Rips Ex-UF Coach Meyer, Furthers Our Belief That Tebow Was The Real Winner In Gainesville

Matt Hayes of The Sporting News is taking former Florida coach Urban Meyer to task today for creating a culture at UF that “gutted what was four years earlier the most powerful program in college football.”

The lengthy piece claims that Meyer’s lassez faire attitude led to the players taking “complete control of the team,” according to one former, anonymous Gator.  The three-month investigation revealed — in Hayes’ words — “just how damaged the infrastructure really was and how much repair work second-year coach Will Muschamp has had to undertake in replacing Meyer.”

Among the juiciest tidbits:

* Meyer — now at Ohio State — allegedly told a recruit’s family this winter that he would not let his son go to Florida due to character issues in the school’s locker room.  Meyer denies the charge and it does seem like an odd recruiting ploy… seeing as how Meyer was the one who recruited most of the UF team.

* Meyer’s resignation was tied to the roster that he’d built.  “Left in the wake of Meyer’s resignation were problems that can destroy a coaching career: drug use among players, a philosophy of preferential treatment for certain players, a sense of entitlement among all players and roster management by scholarship manipulation.”

* Former Florida safety Bryan Thomas told The Sporting News that “The program was out of control.”

* Ex-Gator Percy Harvin was supposedly given preferential treatment on a repeated basis.  When he failed a drug test, the coach told the press he was injured.  When he allegedly physically attacked then-receivers coach Billy Gonzales, he wasn’t disciplined.

* New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick — who became friends with Meyer and drafted Brandon Spikes and Aaron Hernandez from UF — reportedly knew so much about the team’s drug use that he warned the current Florida team this offseason to put the marijuana down and “don’t be like” those previous Gator players.

It goes on from there.  Thomas — it should be pointed out — was told by Meyer to “move on” because knee injuries began to hinder his career in 2009.  So one of Hayes’ sources clearly has a bone to pick with his ex-coach.

However, many of the things Hayes writes of today have been hinted at, suggested, and rumored to be true for a long while.  If you’ve followed Florida’s football program closely over the years, there’s nothing above that should stand out as an “oh, my goodness” shocker.

Taken as a whole, The Sporting News report tells us three things:

1.  Ohio State probably made a bigger gamble with Meyer than most Buckeye fans realize.  We said that at the time of his hiring, too.

2.  Muschamp did not inherit a stable situation at Florida.  Some talent?  No doubt.  But some diva attitudes and outlaw personalities to go with it.

3.  Meyer’s greatest successes at Florida should be traced back to Tim Tebow, not Meyer.

As we’ve written before, Tebow proved in Denver this past season just what kind of impact he can have on a locker room and the confidence within it.  We believe he deserves credit for UF’s national titles under Meyer, not the coach.  For even with the coach playing favorites, the players smoking pot, and character issues all around, Florida still managed to go 39-7 (27-5 in the SEC) with Tebow on the roster, on the practice field and in the locker room.

Without Tebow’s presence on the team, Meyer went just 17-8 overall and just 9-7 in the league.  Coincidence?  We at MrSEC do not think so.

Reading Hayes’ piece and seeing the work Tebow did in getting a 1-4 Denver squad into the NFL’s final round of eight last season, it’s even more clear that the real leadership in Gainesville from 2006 to 2009 came from Tebow, not from his head coach.



the spread option never worked in the sec until tebow and then newton. unless your qb is a tank it just doesn't work and those type players don't come around often. meyer knew that when while recruiting tebow he said, " if we don't get this kid it will set the program back five years."


i respect meyer for what he did for my school and feel like he did the best he could in the heat of the moment. people forget how intense that 09 season was with tebow coming back and the undefeated streak. if he had suspended harvin or publicized failed drug tests of star players it would have been a nuclear blast in gainesville. it doesn't make it right but i can't get too upset because i really do believe urban's 'heart' was in the right place even if he certainly made some questionable decisions.


having said all that, he bailed out on the gators and that's says a lot about him in my book. thanks for the trophies, but he'll always be more of a hired gun than a true gator to me. also, too, i hate osu and hope he fails miserably.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Those who refer to Tebow as a part-time player obviously have no recollection of his incredible impact as a freshman and prove only their lack of knowledge regarding football when they fire off insults toward this author.


As someone who remembers the Walkers and Jacksons of the SEC, I can tell you that I have never -- NEVER -- in 40+ years heard anyone inspire the "why can't they stop that guy from running up the middle?" screams that Tebow did.  It was called "Third and Tebow" for a reason.  It was a shotgun snap and a straight ahead run that no one could stop or a jump pass that no one could knock down.


Further, if Chris Leak -- who had a great year as a senior -- had stayed on the field and handed the ball to a UF running back on all the Gators' short-yardage plays in 2006, Leak would have as many national titles as I do right now... none.


There's a reason Tebow was drafted into the NFL and still remains there -- unconventional as his game is -- while Leak has bounced around more leagues than Charlie Sheen's character in "Major League."


Thanks for reading the site,



 @John at MrSEC Wow. As part of the "All" you replied to, I went back and reread my comment. Can't seem to find anything anti-Tebow in it. If Tebow was the star his freshman year as you state, does that still in anyway justify UF fans treating Leak with the hatred that they did? Should teams hate every players on thier team who isn't the star? I guess all your children were superstars; my child was not. Coaches and teammates saying horrible things (and not in a whisper)  on the sidelines everytime she went in. She never acknowledged what they said, bless her heart, but she kept working hard. I don't know why people decide who to pick on and then gang up on that one person with fury.  All this was happening during the Leak year so that is why I was particularly aware of how people were treating him. As a parent it is HORRIBLE to hear this as you sit in the stands every week. I can't imagine what Chris' parents were feeling. So even if Leak was simply average, he deserved the MVP simply for grace under fire. 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



"All" was simply a way to address those who were bashing what I'd written.  It was shorter than "Multiple."


How you've gotten the Chris Leak "hate" thing out of my story, I have no idea.  There's not an insult toward Leak in the story or in the reply I posted last night.  And whether or not Florida fans treat him well has zip to do with the post or the reply.


Maybe I'm missing something, but the point of my story was simple -- look at Meyer's record with Tebow doing his spread-option thing and look at the coach's record pre- and post-Tebow.  




- Thomas' claim that Meyer engaged in "roster management" while probably true here or there was obviously not the case overall.  Just look at the total number of players UF signed in the last 4-5 years and the total number say, LSU or Alabama or Auburn signed over that same time.  All of those signed almost a full class worth of players more than UF did.


-Thomas said star players got preferential treatment.  That is also probably true.  That is true of pretty much every other program as well so I don't see what that really means.


- the "drug problem" Thomas spoke of was marijuana.  Its true that several players have tested positive in the last few years but again, this is another fact that is true of most programs and I suspect would be true of any group of 100 college students if you selected them at random and tested them. 


The rest seemed to be nothing more than invective by an obviously disgruntled former player who came in with a lofty recruiting ranking and did not pan out.  Tebow was a part time role player in 2006 when Florida won the national championship.  He played no part in Utah running the table in 2004 under Urban Meyer.  To claim the winning was mostly attributable to Tebow is revisionism.  Will Meyer be successful at OSU?  I don't know.  We will see if he can recapture the drive and work ethic he had prior to burning out in 2010. 

Atl js
Atl js

Grind that axe!  Grind that axe!

Geoff McDorms
Geoff McDorms

What?  Tebow was a freshman and wasn't even the starting quarterback on the first national championship team.  Yet he was more important than the head coach? Stupidest thing I've ever read.  Honestly.

RoadTrip 1 Like

Good article, John.No doubt Tebow glued the team together and when he left it all fell apart. However, I believe he is a perfect fit for OSU because that conference knows next to nothing about spread/speed type offenses. You don't have to be top tier SEC good to win that conference championship. They are already a renegade program just like UF if the truth is told. So he will fit right in. He will play it safe for a couple of years until the Tressel mess blows over, then it will be back to the same ole same old.  he can count on ESN to beat the drum for his NC hopes.


Thanks for the article Mr. SEC!


A few thoughts:


* I think Dan Mullen also had a lot to do with Meyer's success.

* Meyer won the first NC with someone else's recruits (cough, cough, plus Tebow, cough, cough).

* What's the big deal if Tebow had a lot to do with the wins? Is Calipari a "bad" coach too because he wins only because he recruits the best talent?

* IF it was the most powerful program, you mean to tell me that Zook was responsible for it?  [snickers] Meyer may have stood on his shoulders, but it was under Meyer that the "program" rose to it's pinnacle.

* The program seemed a little out of control when Spurrier left too.


I don't have any hard feelings at all towards the guy. His heart didn't seem in it his last two years and it was best for all for him to go. But he did a lot for the program during his tenure. While you may disagree with his approach, I think his lack of focus (nervous breakdown?) is responsible for leaving the program in any disarray. .


I'll bet you a viewer guest article that he is a success at OSU - as long as he has a good OC and DC. 



Interesting and you are right about the contribution of Tebow in the leadership of the Florida team but I guess my impressions lead to me a slightly different take on it.  Bascially (from my highly unscientific observations from watching them play onTV over the years!)  I think Meyer simply got worn out as the years went on to maybe "phoning it in" as a coach. Without a doubt some of the players he recruited might have taken advantage of the situation to act up. We all know about the retiring/nonretiring/retiring sequence of events but he might have just been getting tired as opposed to being a bad coach. It happens to lots of us folks in regular jobs, much less high pressure like SEC coaching. So if he is re-energized for coaching, he might do well at OSU. Also it seems like there are a lot of other teams that have had trouble with behavior and drugs in the past several years, so it might not be coach specific. 


Since you brought up the Tebow years as 2006-2009, I'd like to comment on something unrelated to your article but that has troubled me for a long time.  Btw, I am completely neutral to UF; actually I thought Meyer was the coach that was most respectful of Vandy next to Richt. As a mom, I'm usually looking at things from a maternal standpoint so while I want my team to win, I also want all the players and their parents on other teams to have a good collegiate experience.  They all have dreams of success! One of the things that has driven me nuts is the complete deletion of Chris Leak from history.  If ever there was a guy to have the ultimate senior year football 'hollywood movie" experience, it was him. Great QB, excellent student, and Paul Newman-type handsome. I think he even broke some of Danny Wuerfel's (sp?) records. Yet his senior year must have been living hell for him and his parents. Billboards calling for him to be benched and fans all against him. And yet he hung tough and won the SEC in 2006 and the NC. People get so obsessed with only one winner or hero to the exclusion of other worthy athletes or students.  Wouldn't  two great stories be better than just one? Tebow has benefitted from an outpouring of public support/prayers/and love. If half those people also did the same for other folks like Chris,  maybe they would get the benefit of the doubt by the pros too? Tebow has handled all his fame extremely well thus far, is a hardworker  and can inspire his teammates to play better than they are.  So many are inspired by Tebow, but I tell you Chris Leak getting the MVP of the 2007 NC game after all he went through made me happy. I like thinking there are so many more heros than the media/marketing folks let us know about. So come on, give Leak the leadership mantle for 2006-7. He deserved it.  thx.

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