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Writer: Spurrier Is Still The Top Gator Over Meyer… And He’s Right

Steve Spurrier won a Heisman Trophy as a player at Florida.  He then returned to his alma mater and made the Gator program one of the top five jobs in America.

But when Urban Meyer hoisted his second BCS crystal football in 2008, there were some who said the Gators newest coach had surpassed the older coach.

George Diaz of The Orlando Sentinel says a bit more time has proven that that was just not the case:

“Even now, as head coach at South Carolina, Spurrier channels the profile of the Perfect Gator: A blend of cockiness and charisma.  A man who embraces all the darts and arrows.  A man who loves to pile on, just because.  What’s not to love?

This is why Spurrier — years after leaving — will forever be king of Florida football, while Urban Meyer is a bit like the emperor with no clothes.

Sure the two national titles are fancy ornaments on his resume, but Meyer’s legacy will forever be tarnished by the rest of his “accomplishments.”  In simpler terms, he was nothing more than a hired mercenary who did his job, got sloppy, bored and disinterested, and helped dismantle a program he helped rebuild into a national power.”

Too strong?  Not in my view.  Spurrier tapped into the recruiting base of the Sunshine State like no other coach in Gator history.  His personality — as well as his play-calling — gained the UF program national recognition.

All that has come since — whether it was won by Meyer or will be won by Muschamp — can be traced back to the moment Spurrier took a good Florida program often bathed in scandal and made it a great football program with a clean record.

While Meyer won, he didn’t leave things in as good of order as he found it.  Tim Tebow — as we’ve written many times — was a once in a generation type of player who happened to pass through on his watch.  And scandals and arrests and drama and turmoil returned to Gainesville on Meyer’s watch as well.

Meyer has one more national title than Spurrier, but without Spurrier first laying the foundation, it’s doubtful Meyer would have accomplished nearly as much as he did in the roughneck SEC.

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Battery Charges Filed Against UF’s Leonard

On Wednesday, Will Muschamp allowed tight end AC Leonard to return to the practice field despite the player having been arrested in February for simple domestic battery.  Yesterday, the Gainesville State Attorney’s Office filed a misdemeanor battery charge against Leonard.

And that doesn’t make Muschamp’s action the day before look too good.  Here’s what the Gator coach said Wednesday regarding the tight end:

“After a six-week suspension from team activities, AC Leonard has been cleared to return to practice only.  He still has a lot of things to work through before his status for the fall is addressed.”

That after initially stating “this behavior will not be tolerated.”  What behavior, you ask?  The police report — the one the State Attorney’s Office is now acting on — was summarized by the folks at

“(Leonard) reportedly ‘shoved (his girlfriend) forcibly with both hands in here chest/neck area.  The force of the shove knocked her down to the ground, causing here head to strike a dog cage that was behind her.’

Leonard then reportedly told the woman to leave and attempted to drag her by her hair out the door.  When she resisted, the police report states Leonard grabbed his girlfriend by her feet and pulled her out of the apartment before locking her out.”

That was the girlfriend’s story.  But the arresting officer said he did see bruises on the woman’s elbow and arm.  Leonard said he never hit her, “I just wanted her to leave.” 

The attorney for the sophomore tight end — who played in nine games for the Gators last year — said earlier this week that he and his client were “in plea negotiations with the state and we are hopeful that we’re going to work out a resolution to this case without a trial.”

Even with the decision by the State Attorney’s Office yesterday, a deal could still be struck and the case could still be settled.

But it’s another black eye for a Florida program that has had more than its share of run-ins with the law since Urban Meyer touched down in Gainesville back in 2006.  Leonard was the ninth Gator arrested since Muschamp took over the UF program in January of last year.

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Richt Says UGA Doesn’t Have A Discipline Problem

By SEC standards, Georgia had a relatively crime-free 2011 after Mark Richt instituted a get-tougher policy regarding discipline issues.  Unfortunately, a pair of starting cornerbacks have been arrested for possessing marijuana and punching a woman in recent weeks.

Still, Richt says his program doesn’t have a discipline deficiency:

“When guys do make mistakes, two things are very important: How we handle it and how he handles it.  Are we going to discipline our players the way they ought to be disciplined according to what they’ve done?  I think we do that.  I think we do that more strictly than most people do.  If you look at other people’s policies, ours is much tougher than just about any other policy I’ve seen.  So because some of our guys end up with a game suspension or whatever it may be, a kid at another school may do the very same thing and their policy doesn’t say that it has to be that way.  I mean, I don’t care what they do.  All I’m saying is I think it’s important how you handle it.”

Richt is correct.  The University of Georgia has a Student-Athlete Handbook that spells out exactly what punishments coincide with arrests.  An arrest for “alcohol or drug-related misconduct” requires — in the case of football — a one-game suspension.  No running steps, no early workouts.  A suspension.  No argument.

Boys will be boys and no coach can be responsible for 100 players 100% of the time.  But Richt — and UGA’s code — have helped cut back on arrests overall in the past year-and-a-half. 

Until Will Muschamp can drive the remaining Urban Meyer recruits out of Florida’s program, maybe he should institute the same policy as Georgia.  For now it’s the Gators who’ve dealt with double-digit arrests since Muschamp’s hiring.

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SEC Recruiting Headlines – 2/9/12

1. Rivals has released its initial list of the top 100 prospects for the 2013 class.

2. Here’s a breakdown of the initial group from Rivals.

3. Alabama is making a push for Georgia quarterback commit Brice Ramsey.

4. Sounds like a move by Urban Meyer, who called the upset talk in the Big Ten last week “nonsense.”

5. If you missed it last week, Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan said he doesn’t recruit prospects committed to other schools.

6. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin believes the Aggies need to focus their recruiting on Texas and Louisiana.

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Rivals Names Its Recruiters Of The Year; UF’s Durkin On Top

Each year in the aftermath of signing day, names its top recruiters of the year.  America’s top fisher of men this February?  Florida linebackers and special teams coach DJ Durkin.

Durkin is starting his third year in Gainesville after being lured from Stanford by Urban Meyer in 2010.  He got his first full-time assistant’s job in 2005 under Meyer at Bowling Green.  (Here’s guessing Bret Bielema wouldn’t approve of his recruiting tactics.)

“I am very, very fortunate to be recruiting at a place like Florida because I think the place almost sells itself,” Durkin said.  “It is a great academic institution and there is obviously great football tradition here.  We play in a great football stadium in the best conference in the world.  I think the place really sells itself.”

“The place” is also located in one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in America.  Durkin didn’t mention that fact, but it certainly helps.

The Gators wound up with a consensus Top 5 class and, amazingly, it could have been even better if several last-minute decisions from prospects had gone UF’s way.

Among Rivals’ Top 25 Recruiters of the Year are seven more SEC coaches:

David Beaty of Texas A&M
Todd Grantham of Georgia
Derek Lewis of Florida
Jeremy Pruitt of Alabama
Kirby Smart of Alabama
Trooper Taylor of Auburn
Lorenzo Ward of South Carolina

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SEC Headlines 2/5/2012

1. Kevin Scarbinsky: Is Nick Saban doing to Les Miles what he did to Urban Meyer?

2. Derek Dooley on multi-year scholarships: “We forget this is a contract, a two-way street.”

3. And on the season-ending loss at Kentucky: “It eats me alive. I didn’t sleep for a week after that game.”

4. Urban Meyer is doing to the Big Ten what Lane Kiffin did to the SEC.

5.  ”(J)ust admit everyone’s guilty of poaching on some level…”

6. The Darius Philon story will not go away.

7. Neither will the Jarrett Lee BCS championship game saga.

8. Jordan Jefferson leads two scoring drives but the North beats the South in the Players All-Star Classic.

9. Avery Johnson will legally change his last name to Peterson when he arrives on the LSU campus.

10.  A signing day breakdown for the Ole Miss Rebels.

11. And one for Mississippi State.

12. How to work a living room – Kentucky Wildcats style.

13. Alabama 69 – Ole Miss 67 (2 OT).  Key plays by Trevor Releford prove to be  the difference. Ole Miss loses seven-point halftime lead.

14. LSU 71 – Arkansas 65.  Four scorers in double figures for the Tigers. Arkansas still winless on the road.

15. Mississippi State 91 – Auburn 88. Bulldogs connect on 12 3-point shots. Beat Auburn despite Dee Bost fouling out with 3.29 to go.

16. Florida 73 – Vanderbilt 65.  19 straight at  home for the Gators. Press and double teams doom the Commodores.

17. Kentucky 85 – South Carolina 62. 22 points, eight rebounds and eight blocked shots for Anthony Davis in a record-setting game for the freshman. Worst loss in Darrin Horn’s coaching career.

18. The Big Blue Nation Occupy Movement.

19, Tennessee 73 – Georgia 62. Lineup shuffle a winner for the Vols. Georgia coach Mark Fox ejected.

20. Mike Strange: “I pity the teams who have to prepare a scouting report on Tennessee.”

21. Is selfishness killing college basketball?


22. The NFL wants more Thursday night games.

23. Former Kentucky player Dermontti Dawson elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame.

24. IBM says Twitter prefers Eli.

25. The 21 strangest Super Bowl prop bets.

26. The Super Bow is over when this happens.

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Meyer Says He’s Really Not Interested In The Gator Bowl

Nothing’s more important than spending time with his wife and kids.  He never wanted to coach anywhere else after wearing the orange and blue.  He wasn’t going to raid Florida’s football program for staffers.

By now, it’s become pretty clear that what Urban Meyer says and what Urban Meyer does can be two completely different things.  So prepare for the coach’s latest canard:

“I’m sure I’ll watch some (of the Gator Bowl between Florida and Ohio State).  It’s hard or me to sit and watch a whole game.  I think people are making more of it than I would.  At some point, that story is going to go away.”

Uh, yeah.  As soon as the fourth quarter ends on January 2nd in Jacksonville.  Until then, the 2012 Gator Bowl is in reality the Urban Meyer Bowl.

And if you think the head coach at Ohio State won’t be watching his new squad battle his old squad — if for no other reason than to simply gauge his new troops’ abilities against athletes he’s familiar with — then you’ve probably believed every other fabrication Meyer has spun in the past 24 months.

“I want to form my opinions after we coach them,” Meyer said of his new Buckeye players.  “It’s a great opportunity for these players to push restart.  I’m not going to develop an opinion based on this game.”

Maybe not, but the idea that he won’t be watching the game from start to finish is downright laughable.

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Gator Fans Not Snapping Up Bowl Tickets

The folks in Jacksonville surely expected a better fan response when they matched Urban Meyer’s old school against Urban Meyer’s new school in the Gator Bowl.  Unfortunately for the selection committee, like Meyer, it seems many UF fans won’t be in the stadium for the game.

The Gainesville Sun reports that Florida has sold just 8,000 of its allotted 15,000 tickets to the January 2nd bowl game. 

For all the talk of “best fans in the world” — and every SEC school claims that — the reality is that the majority of fans won’t spend, attend, or travel unless their school is winning.  That’s true all across the league.

And at Florida, 6-6 is not considered winning.

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Meyer Changes Direction With Move To Ohio State

A tip of the cap to Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel today for digging up the following quote from Urban Meyer, given during the 24-hour period of his first “retirement” from Florida in December of 2009:

“I made this clear to Jeremy Foley, if I am able to go coach, I want to coach at one place, the University of Florida.  It would be a travesty, it would be ridiculous to all of a sudden come back and get the feeling back, get the health back, feel good again and then all of a sudden go throw some other colors on my shirt and go coach.  I don’t want to do that.  I have too much love for this university and these players and for what we’ve built.”

Uh, well, er, uh…

Florida officials like Foley continue to say the right things regarding the ex-Gator coach.  And even a prominent UF booster — who is still friends with Meyer — says the coach appears to be in good health again.  He also said that he believes Meyer “has always acted up front.”

Maybe so.  But it’s going to be a bit odd this fall when Meyer throws some other colors on his shirt and goes back to coaching.

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Meyer Says He Hasn’t Interviewed With OSU, But What’s The Real Story?

If you flipped by ESPN this weekend, you likely saw reports that “sources close to Urban Meyer and Ohio State” had told the network that the former Florida coach — and current ESPN employee — had been talking with OSU officials about their head coaching position.

But Meyer told The Gainesville Sun today that that’s just not true.

“The concerns are still there,” he said.  “Number one, my health.  Number two, my family.  Number three, the state of college football.”  But then he told the paper the following:

“I’ve done some research into the second one.  I’ve found that it is possible to have balance between your job and your family, that there are coaches out there who are doing it.

I’m in a good place right now mentally and physically.  So if something happens with Ohio State, I’ll have a decision to make.  But there has been no interview.  There has been no offer to make s decision about.”

Well that’s as clear as mud.  We find it hard to believe that ESPN would run a story about one of its analysts before actually checking with that employee.

So it’s possible the Meyer has spoken with OSU and he’s simply splitting hairs as to what should and should not be considered an “interview.”

It’s also possible that word got out before Meyer told his family of his talks.  That’s pure speculation, of course, but Meyer decided — before speaking with his family — to return after a one-day retirement from Florida in December of 2009.

Regardless of what Meyer specifically says, it certainly sounds like he’s getting that old coaching itch again… and that if Ohio State makes him an offer he’ll strongly consider it.

We wonder, however, if OSU officials have paid attention to:

1.  What Meyer did at Florida without Tim Tebow (not much)

2.  What Meyer left behind at Florida (a team capable of struggling with Furman)

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