Meyer fit, relaxed and free of chest pains

DESTIN, Fla. -- Florida coach Urban Meyer ventured out and experienced things this offseason that he's never previously done during his head-coaching career.

He took his daughter to The Masters, visited Rome, even took in a Jimmy Buffett concert.


MeyerBut, no, he didn’t meet the Pope, as was suggested in some media reports.

“We went on a little family trip and got to see him, big Gator fan. We talked about third down and 6,” beamed Meyer, who was obviously joking.

“No ... I did not meet him.”

Meyer, looking relaxed and fit, met with several reporters Tuesday prior to the start of the SEC spring meetings at the Sandestin Hilton.

For the first time, he expounded on what was at the root of his chest pains last December that initially led to his shocking resignation. He changed his mind the next day and said he would instead take an extended leave of absence.

“The biggest thing was I wanted to find out what those darned chest pains were, and I did … esophageal spasms,” revealed Meyer, who was rushed to the hospital with severe chest pains the morning after Florida's SEC championship game loss to Alabama.

“They’ve got me on some medication. I’ve just got to be smarter in the future, and I’m going to be. I’m not going to let that happen again.”

According to MedlinePlus, esophageal spasms are abnormal contractions of the muscles in the esophagus, preventing food from effectively moving to the stomach. The cause is unknown.

Meyer said he hasn’t had any issues with chest pains since the end of January, but said it was like “waking up every morning with a toothache in your chest” for the last three years.

Even though his extra time away during the offseason was termed a leave of absence by Florida, Meyer stopped short Tuesday of referring to it as a full-fledged leave.

"I don’t know about 'leave,'" Meyer said. "I’m not quite sure 'leave' is the right word. I talk to a lot of coaches, and a lot of them do it without saying 'leave.' They take a couple of weeks off here or a couple of days off here.

"What I’ve got to do is learn to really trust our staff and empower people and give them opportunities to grow. They’ve done a great job. We have a great staff. We have the best strength coach in America. To sit there and micro-manage our strength program would be nonsense, and I did that for a few years. I’m very pleased with the way it’s going right now."

Meyer said being able to get away with his family this offseason was soothing. It was also a reminder that he didn't need to be at the office every waking second.

“I feel fantastic, and I have a better appreciation for the guys around me, to just bolt for five days,” Meyer said. “I’ve never done that in my life, to say, 'Here, you guys got it.’

“The stadium’s still standing. Guys are working out, getting faster, graduating. It’s going well.”