Urban Meyer is long gone from Florida, but he’s sure not forgotten.
We were reminded of that earlier this month thanks to Matt Hayes’ piece in The Sporting News, a piece that painted the end of Meyer’s otherwise ultra-successful tenure at Florida as pure bedlam with select players doing pretty much as they pleased and the program spiraling downward as a result.
Meyer has since defended his time at Florida, which in fairness, included a pair of BCS national championships.
But it’s the mess he left for Will Muschamp to clean up that hasn’t won him a lot of fans in the Sunshine State, be it fans, some former players, media members or Florida administrators.
In short, most people simply didn’t realize how “broken” that program really was when Meyer stepped aside following the 2010 season. Remember, too, that the term “broken” was the term Meyer himself used.
Here’s the other thing: There hasn’t been an outpouring of Florida administrators coming forward and disputing the things alleged in Hayes’ piece.
Even former running back Chris Rainey wasn’t exactly going to bat for Meyer in a recent interview, and it was Meyer who gave Rainey a second chance in 2010 following Rainey’s infamous “time to die” text to a woman he’d been dating.
The columnists in the state of Florida haven’t held back, either.
Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel wrote last week that Meyer was more “duplicitous and dishonest” than Bianchi ever thought possible. Bianchi went on to write that Meyer wasn’t just “Urban Liar,” but that he was also “Urban Hypocrite.”
And then Tuesday, Bianchi’s colleague at The Orlando Sentinel, George Diaz, lowered the boom.
Among other things, Diaz wrote that Steve Spurrier would always be the king of Florida football and that Meyer is a “bit like the emperor with no clothes.”
Pat Dooley, the longtime columnist with The Gainesville Sun, weighed in on all the uproar as well. It’s worth noting that Dooley had an excellent relationship with Meyer, probably better than any media member in the state of Florida.
Nonetheless, that didn’t keep Dooley from sharing this little nugget in his column last week:
"I know Muschamp felt he inherited a mess when he took over and it has taken him a year to get it headed back in the right direction. All you need to know about players' sense of entitlement was the meeting between Muschamp and Janoris Jenkins after multiple arrests and failed drug tests by the cornerback. When Muschamp told Jenkins he would have to be suspended, Jenkins replied, “Do you know who you're talking to?” And that was the end of his career at UF."
If you'd just landed from Mars and didn't have cable TV there, you'd think this Meyer fellow was the worst thing to ever happen to Florida football.
The truth is that he won two national championships in a span of three years, and when you're winning at that level, even the most hardened skeptics and cynics tend to lose their peripheral vision. They see what's right in front of them, as in crystal footballs starting to fill up the trophy case.
It happens among fans, media, administrators, all of us.
It's obvious now that Meyer's handle on the program was slipping away from him when he quit for good in 2010. Perhaps he sensed it the year before when he tried to quit the first time following his health scare.
Now that he's at Ohio State, Meyer has a chance to write a new legacy there.
I'd be shocked if he didn't win big. Nobody's ever accused him of not being able to coach football.
It's his tendency to preach one thing and practice another, at least in the eyes of more than a few Floridians, that he might want to work on.