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Meyer’s respect would grow by staying away from sidelines

Posted: November 15, 2011 10:27 a.m.
Updated: November 16, 2011 5:00 a.m.

There was a strange sight during last year’s Outback Bowl in Orlando as the Florida Gators went up against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Urban Meyer, Florida’s young yet highly accomplished head coach, was stepping down due to the stresses of the job, while Joe Paterno, the then-83-year-old coach of Penn State, was still willing and able to keep up the pace with the Nittany Lions.

It was the second time in two years that Meyer, now 47, had stepped away from the game. A health scare made him briefly resign in December 2009, but he decided to come back for the 2010 season calling his earlier resignation a “knee-jerk reaction.”

However, some say Meyer invested so much into football that he made himself sick. He was even hospitalized in 2009 suffering from chest pains and dehydration after his Gators lost 32-13 to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. 

But last season’s resignation appeared more indelible. Meyer took a job with ESPN this year, a move that reduced his college football duties to only one TV broadcast per week instead of the seven-day, 24-hour obsession that Meyer faced during his times as head coach.

Meanwhile, Paterno, who began coaching for Penn State in 1966, led the Nittany Lions to an 8-1 record this year before a widely perceived mishandling of sexual abuse charges against former Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky led to his firing.

With Paterno now gone from the college football landscape, Meyer’s name has been thrown around as a possible successor.

The former coach of the Gators would undoubtedly be a worthy leader at Penn State. He won two SEC championships and two BCS National championships during his time in Gainesville and won two Mountain West championships during his time as head coach for Utah. He was even named coach of the decade by The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated in 2009.

Meyer has also been mentioned as a possible replacement for Luke Fickell at Ohio State University. Fickell’s contract in Columbus has largely been considered a temporary fix as it is set to expire in January. Meyer is also a native of Ohio and was a head coach in the Buckeye State during his time with Bowling Green.  

 But when Meyer left his role with the Gators last year, his goal was to spend more time with his wife and children. If he does go back to coaching next season, he would likely be throwing that goal out the window.        

Meyer has mentioned he’s looking to recharge and that he doesn’t plan on coaching until his son graduates from high school. He also has two daughters who play Division I college volleyball. Unfortunately, he was never able to see them play in high school, but now he can.

His role with ESPN should give him a needed dose of the college football atmosphere, while also giving him valuable opportunities to spend time with his family.       

It seems Meyer said it best during the final days of his tenure at Florida. At the end of the day, he said, his record as a husband and father is much more important than the number of wins he gets each week on the sidelines. 

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