The rumors must be false

I have no bones to pick with the man. While Urban Meyer was at Florida until the day after he finally left as the head coach I was treated as fair as or better than I should. I respected his accomplishments before he arrived into really big time football at Florida. I respected the image he represented at that arrival, and respected his rate of winning while he was at the school I was covering.

There was a lot to respect about the guy back then and Gator fans were really digging it… all of it.

Urban Meyer came to Florida with all of the pizzazz you would expect of a hire from Jeremy Foley and seemingly a guy willing to do it the right way. He quickly found out that doing it the right way was a tough thing.

Not that I am saying he was doing things the wrong way, but his 1% of the 1% mantra, something he yelled to the rooftops on his arrival and represented taking the best of the very best. He meant the best of the best people as much as the best of the best players.

That mantra lasted a little over a year. He found it hard to get rid of some of those that weren't in the top .0001 of the population as both people and players.

And you know what? That was fine. Not necessarily because was willing to take any scum bucket on the planet on his team, but because truth be told, there may have been a little more than most, but the bad guys weren't out pacing the good guys more at Florida than anywhere else that had a high caliber football program.

He had to swallow the 1% of the 1% and we never heard it again.

Then came the championships. None of that other stuff mattered. He was able to win two with style and with different styles. He won one with mostly another coach's players that were recruited and gave pretty much proper credit. Then he won one with players he only recruited.

It didn't hurt that he had the most electrifying player in college football history for four years and three of them at the helm of his team, but it was really his team, his program, and his fans.

Somewhere in the middle of those championships though, things changed and there started to be a wedge between him and the fans.

The championships were great, the four 13-win seasons, the bowl wins, the super star athletes he was bringing in to Florida. But… he started cutting back on booster meetings, he cut down his radio appearances, he started denying autograph requests. He got so big at Florida that these things that were written in his original contract suddenly disappeared.

He would still do all those other things, but the disconnect started hard and fast and it has now gone way more forward than it should for a guy that helped bring two National Championships at Florida.

Still, most (not all) folks would have given up that stuff for continuous winning.

Then the bottom fell out. After losing in crushing style to Alabama in the SEC Championship in 2010, Meyer had a health issue that caused him to step back and make the decision to retire.

There are 10,000 theories as to what the actual health issues were but I am 100% sure they were there and 100% don't care what they actually were. His health is private and should be in my book.

He was talked back into coming to Florida not by Jeremy Foley the Athletic Director, but by co-workers that he had worked a great deal of time with and cared for that most likely would have lost their jobs.

Noble indeed.

Before I go on, I don't discredit the man for coming back and he did it for noble, if not personal reasons. He just came back for the wrong reasons and it was not going to be very long as we all found out. We don't even need to get into why because the aftermath of his second and final retirement at Florida is the issue I am pushing here.

That last year was bad simply because it wasn't like the previous four. The Gators have certainly had much worse seasons that 2010. That is completely not the issue.

The fact he took a job with ESPN immediately following his retirement and despite his need to get away and get healthy was not an issue as well. He would sweet talk about his time at Florida and what kind of talent the Gators had. Okay, we could handle that.

But once he became a coach and recruiter again, even from a school 876.8 miles away (I looked it up), things changed and changed quickly.

We first started hearing about comments he made to prospects that were looking at his current school Ohio State and the one he left. He would seemingly say anything he had to in order for that prospect to not consider the Gators. There is a ton of documentation on this.

The rogue remarks were about the locker room, about the players, and even right hook shots about the entire program being "broken".

It also mattered that Meyer left some big holes in the roster when he left. Make no mistake; there was talent here as we saw with the most recent NFL draft, but Florida's new head coach Will Muschamp had to recruit good and fast to go from 7-6 to 11-2 from year one to year two.

That wedge with Gator fans got worse and worse. The "empty cupboard" that the fans perceived and all the remarks he made about the program, the less respect for him would be maintained.

And yet Meyer would tell locals in town he wanted to come back to Florida when all is said and done. He wants the folks in Gainesville to admire and love him like he was once loved. He would try and admonish reporters that would comment on any hint of a sordid past with him at Florida and write or broadcast about the same thing I am talking about… reasons for the fans distaste of him.

Wednesday we found out via FOX Sports new hire Clay Travis that Meyer turned the Gators in for a silly recruiting violation. At least what I consider one.

Now I don't have the visual evidence in front of me to prove this, but I have asked around enough on this end to know that it was true.

The silly thing is that as Clay Travis told in his story, Florida assistant Brian White was cleared of any wrong doing by the NCAA. He did what he was able to do inside the rules.

The fact that Meyer actually hired White at Florida and tried to get him to follow him to Columbus should speak volumes about what he is willing to do when it comes to recruiting.

This may be the end of any chance of a fall back into the graces of Gator fans. You bad mouth the players you recruited, you bad mouth the locker room you left behind, you bad mouth the program you help establish, and now you comically try and get that program in trouble over a trivial NCAA rule.

I keep hearing that Meyer wants him and his family to end up in Florida. The lake life and the sun and weather are what he likes. Despite how many people I hear it from I just wonder if those rumors are true. Or is he just willing to risk that for the next big recruit? Damn the consequences.


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