Gator Sighting in Bearcat Land

Wednesday morning a special guest watched as the Cincinnati Bearcats took to the field for spring practice. One day after rumors flew across the campus that he would make an appearance, University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer, in the area visiting family, watched portions of the UC practice, as well as addressed the players as a team after the day's session.

“I just told them how proud I am of them,” said Meyer, whose first football coaching job came coaching defensive backs at St. Xavier High School.  The Gator coach also wore a Bearcat’s football uniform himself for two years in the 1980’s.


“It was not a good football place,” said Meyer of UC during his time here.  “I was not a good player, it was not a good program, it was not a good place.”


Recalling the troubling times, Meyer said, “I heard players back in the day who would complain about the locker room, complain about the weight room, and complain about this,” as he motioned to Nippert Stadium surrounding us.  “The only real complaint was that we were really a bunch of players who were not committed.”


After watching today’s practice and seeing what Cincinnati did last year under first year head coach Brian Kelly, Meyer realizes things around Clifton have changed since he was running the UC gridiron.


“It wasn’t major college football.  It was a masquerade,” said Meyer of the Bearcat football he experienced in the 80’s.  “It was not what it is today.  The facilities are phenomenal.  That practice was a legitimate practice with a bunch of good football players.  I’m leaving here going, ‘Wow, that was legit.’”


“That was an excellent football practice, a bunch of good players, that team’s going to challenge for a (Big East) championship,” added Meyer, who admits he was not able to see much of UC’s 10-win season last year, but not because he didn’t want to.  Granted, he is kind of busy that time of year.


“I saw the Oregon State game,” said Meyer of the Bearcat’s 34-3 thrashing of the Beavers early last season.


Coach Kelly was happy to have the 2006 national champion coach e in attendance for one of his teams’ practices, and was happy they got the hear the message he gave at the end of practice.


“Well it’s the same message; it’s about commitment and what it takes to win championships,” said Kelly of the speech Meyer gave his Bearcats.  “It’s not about being average, it’s about winning championships.  So from that standpoint you couldn’t have a better guy, who’s already won a national championship, to come and talk to your football team.”


Kelly hopes that with a new face giving them the same message, his players will really begin to believe in what he has been preaching to them.


“From a philosophical base, they’re hearing the same message from me every day and then it gets reinforced from a guy who’s won a national championship in the BCS,” said Kelly, who probably hopes that whole BSC things wore off onto his team, too.  “I think anytime you’re dealing with 18-21 year olds, it’s reality TV.  It’s real.  It’s ‘Hey he’s really done it, and he’s talking just like coach Kelly in terms of the kind of commitment that you have to make.’  And doing the right things both on and off the field, I think that’s really the message here.”


If you happened to get a chance to see coach Meyer walking the sidelines of Nippert Wednesday morning, consider yourself lucky.  Because unfortunately for the rest of you, it may never happen again.


Florida, we wouldn’t come here and play,” said Meyer of his Gators traveling to the Queen City.  “I don’t want to play these guys, they’re good.  We’ve got a hard enough schedule already.”


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