The University of Florida has released a statement regarding the stunning development that Urban Meyer is stepping down as the Gators’ head coach.
In the statement, Meyer hinted very strongly that health concerns played a huge role in his unexpected and shocking decision to leave arguably the best college football program in the country.
(And, as noted by Mike Florio in the post just below this one, Meyer told his players that he was leaving due to heart concerns.)
Here’s the text of Meyer’s statement:
“I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program,” Meyer said in statement. “I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family.
“After consulting with my family, Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley and my doctors, I believe it is in my best interest to step aside and focus on my health and family.
“I’m proud to be a part of the Gainesville community and the Gator Nation and I plan to remain in Gainesville and involved with the University of Florida.
“I’m very appreciative for the opportunity I’ve had to be a part of a tremendous institution – from Dr. Machen to Jeremy Foley and the entire administrative staff at UF. I’m also very thankful for the chance to work with some of the best assistants in college football and coach some of the best college football players and watch them grow both on and off the field as people. I will cherish the relationships with them the most.“
Meyer is expected to coach the Gators in the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati.
As for where UF will turn for a new coach, it would seem that, given the state and status of the football program, almost anyone in America would jump at the opportunity to land one of the Top Three jobs in the country.
Most certainly, Bob Stoops‘ name will be tossed out there. Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh was connected to both the Notre Dame and Kansas vacancies, and is a mortal lock to have his name attached to this job as well.
At first blush, here’s the name you should probably in the front of your mind: Boise State’s Chris Peterson, if for nothing more than the fact that plucking a coach from a non-BcS automatic qualifier turned out rather well for UF the last time they were in need of a head coach.
Plus, Peterson is a helluva football coach whose style would fit almost seamlessly with the way the program is currently constructed.
One thing we would think would be a certainty, though: Charlie Strong is probably kicking himself in the ass right about now.
Strong was Meyer’s defensive coordinator before leaving for the Louisville head-coaching gig earlier this month. Would he consider doing an about-face and return to Gainesville just weeks after leaving?
Odds are no, he wouldn’t, but it’s something that should be kept an eye on.