On August 3, 2009, Florida announced that they had reached an agreement with Urban Meyer on a new six-year contract that would pay the two-time title-winning head coach $4 million annually.
In the eleven months or so since that agreement was announced, Meyer has seen, well, a lot. A resignation, a quick about-face on the resignation, health mysteries, a chilling 911 call, sabbaticals, an interim coach, dressing down of a reporter, etc., etc., etc.
About the only thing not seen in the interim was an actual signature on the deal that could very well keep Meyer in Gainesville for the rest of his coaching career. Fret not, if you were, Gator Nation; the John Hancock is in the offing.
Speaking to ESPN.com, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said that Meyer officially consummating the contract will happen “shortly”.
“It’ll get signed sometime in the next month or so, if not sooner,” Foley told ESPN.com. “There are no hang-ups. Bottom line, he has a [previously signed] contract that has four years left to run on it. It’s not like he doesn’t have a contract. And he is getting compensated at the new rate [$4 million a year].
“We have an agreement with Urban Meyer at the new rate, and the contract will get signed here shortly.”
Foley added that there’s really nothing out of the ordinary with the delay in Meyer signing the contract, saying that “people make more of it than what it is.”
A quartet of agents who spoke to ESPN.com, however, see things a little bit differently.
Lags in the signing of coaching contracts aren’t unheard of, but four agents contacted by ESPN.com said the delay in Meyer’s case is unusually long. The agents spoke only on the condition of anonymity, because they didn’t want to be seen as critical of Meyer or Florida.
Meyer doesn’t have an agent, though he has in the past consulted with Toledo, Ohio, financial adviser Michael Wilcox, and Bryan Harlan, owner of a Chicago-based sports management firm. Meyer did not respond to interview requests for this story. …
The agents said contract extensions typically are no more than a two- or three-page addendum to the original contract. Not having something in writing is “bad practice at a minimum. It is an invitation to a problem,” said one agent. The Southeast-based agent specifically noted the lawsuit that followed the firing of former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie, who two years into the job hadn’t signed a contract.
“I wouldn’t want a coach I represent working without something in writing,” another agent said.
As a result of this story, we spoke to an agent who currently represents coaches at the collegiate level, and has represented many more who are no longer in Div. 1-A. This unnamed agent told us that “it’s not exactly ‘normal’, but it’s nothing unprecedented either.”
“Our” agent then summed up this “situation” perfectly.
“We’re talking about Urban Meyer here; it’s not your average situation. There’s not a coach in the country that would have more leverage* than what he has if an unsigned contract became an issue. There are no real worries, and I agree with [Foley]; people are making way too much out of this if that’s what they’re doing.”
So, there you have it. A non-story story involving Meyer.
But, when you are dealing with a high-profile coach with BcS bling x2, anything and everything will draw attention and scrutiny. Especially given the roller coaster ride Meyer’s health has taken his career on over the past 12 months.
(*We disagree with the leverage aspect of the argument; Nick Saban could open a Puppy Kicking Academy in downtown Tuscaloosa and the board of trustees would suggest a raise based on the argument that it’s Nick Freaking Saban.)