The Coaching Candidates: Urban Meyer

One coach who will certainly receive an interview request for the University of Florida's soon to be vacant position is Utah's Urban Meyer. The Astabula, Ohio native is in his fourth season as a head coach after stints at Ohio State, Illinois State, Colorado State, and Notre Dame as an assistant. <p>

Meyer lettered as a defensive back at the University of Cincinnati but it was in baseball that he made his mark. He was a thirteenth round selection of the Atlanta Braves. Meyer spent the 1982 season in Sarasota in Rookie League Ball. He was designated to Pulaski, Virginia for Class A baseball in 1983. He left baseball after the 1984 season and became a student assistant football coach at Cincinnati in 1985. He spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Ohio State before landing his first full-time assistant coaching position at Illinois State. He was an assistant at Colorado State and Notre Dame before landing his first head coaching position at Bowling Green.

Meyer served as the head coach at Bowling Green for the 2001-02 seasons prior to his move west. He directed the 2001 Falcons to an 8-3 (5-3 in the Mid-America Conference) record, a marked improvement over the 2-9 record the year before. Among the Falcons victories were a 20-13 win over Missouri of the Big 12 and a 43-42 victory over Northwestern of the Big 10. Key MAC losses to Marshall (37-31), Western Michigan (37-28), and Miami of Ohio (24-21) kept them from a conference championship. However, Meyer was named the 2001 MAC Coach of the Year. The BGSU defense was tops in the league in total defense, rushing defense, and scoring defense. They also led the MAC in turnover margin.

The 2002 Falcons improved to a 9-3 (6-2 in the MAC) mark. They rolled off eight consecutive wins, but lost three of their final four games, which cost them a spot in the MAC Championship Game. Bowling Green knocked off a couple of schools from the Big 12 Conference. The Falcons beat Missouri 51-28 for the second consecutive year and dusted off Kansas 39-16 on the road. Under Meyer, Bowling Green's 2002 team finished with the third ranked scoring offense in the country at 40.8 points per game. They were the only team in the nation to average 215 yards rushing and 215 yards passing through the season. They also led in red zone production, scoring on 61 of 63 trips (98.6%) in the zone, including 52 touchdowns.

He compiled a 17-6 record at the school and earned a reputation as an up and coming coach. One knock on Meyer at BGSU was his road record. Five of Meyer's losses at Bowling Green were on the road, all within the conference.

From the Bowling Green reclamation project, he moved to Utah where he performed another extreme makeover. Hired at Utah in December of 2002 by now University of Florida President Bernie Machen, Meyer has taken the Utes to their greatest ever national rankings. In their first year under Meyer, the Utes went 10-2 and whipped Southern Miss in the Liberty Bowl. They beat bowl teams California (31-24), Colorado State (28-21), and Oregon (17-13). Two of those wins were at home. The Utes were beaten by Texas A&M 28-26 in College Station and New Mexico 47-35 at home. Meyer was named The Sporting News National Coach of the Year.

This season Utah is undefeated (10-0) and has a late Saturday afternoon conference match-up against state rival BYU in Salt Lake City remaining. The Utes have blasted out of conference opponents Texas A&M (41-21), Arizona (23-6), and North Carolina (46-16). Among them, only Arizona was played on the road.

If you haven't seen the Utah offense, it's a little different. They spread it out and are not afraid of throwing deep. In the games that I've seen the Utes ran outside pretty often, getting the blockers out in front. The quarterback ran everything out of the gun. Defensively, they ran a 43 and used some schemes to get pressure on the quarterback.

ACCOLADES:

  • Two-time Coach of the Year in respective conferences
  • TSN National Coach of the Year in 2003
  • 20 wins at Utah in just under two full seasons
  • Best ever academics for Utah football team in 2003
  • 37-8 overall head coaching record (.822%)
  • Took over lousy Utah offense and has turned it into a power

WHY HIRE URBAN MEYER?

  • ESPN's Gameday is going to Salt Lake City instead of Tallahassee…think about it
  • Intense
  • Has improved team record in each of four seasons as head coach
  • Red Zone offensive production is outstanding
  • Funny one-liners using his name
  • Attacking style of defense
  • Coached under Lou Holtz and Sonny Lubick
  • Didn't listen to Bob Davie
  • Played in the Braves system when Torre was manager
  • Utah led the nation in kick returns
  • Uses a fan on the kickoff team, like Texas A&M used 12th man

WHY NOT HIRE URBAN MEYER?

  • Coached under Bob Davie
  • No recruiting ties to Florida
  • Some question whether the offense can be as effective in the SEC with its' speed (But, they beat Texas A&M twice)
  • Coached under Bob Davie (Never said too often)

WHY FLORIDA?

  • Trade snow shovel for little plastic beach shovel
  • Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting (A great shot to land many of the nation's best players)
  • Spring practice in heat…not snow
  • Family needs the southern location before receiving certification that they've lived in all areas of the country
  • Ohio natives love Florida
  • 90,000 filled seats at The Swamp, 45,017 seats only rarely filled at Utah

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