Gators Select Meyer for Urban Renewal Project

Urban Meyer, coach of fifth-ranked and undefeated Utah, has made his choice and it's the University of Florida! (But that's old news for many of you who have been with us the last two weeks...) <p> Turning down what he has always called his "dream job" at the University of Notre Dame, Meyer, met Friday with University of Florida President Bernie Machen and Athletic Director Jeremy Foley to complete a deal that is being reported as seven years at $2 million per season.

Meyer met Thursday with Notre Dame officials that included athletic director Kevin White. It was expected that he would take the job in South Bend where he spent five seasons as an assistant coach, one year under Lou Holtz and four under Bob Davie. Most Notre Dame sources confidently predicted the deal was completed, and Florida's visit to Salt Lake City today was considered a last minute act of desperation for the Gators.

However, after meeting with Machen and Foley, Meyer surprised the vast majority of "experts" by spurning Notre Dame for the Gators. It was first reported Friday morning that he would be taking the UF job, then confirmed in the afternoon. Although there has not been anything official from the University of Florida, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit reported that he has talked with Meyer at length and that Meyer chose the University of Florida in what was called the "toughest decision of his life."

Meyer, it is reported, will coach Utah in its bowl game, expected to be the Fiesta Bowl against Big East Conference champion Pittsburgh. Auburn, unbeaten and playing Saturday in the Southeastern Conference championship game in Altanta, is scheduled to play in the Sugar Bowl. Friday it was reported that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said he will ask the Sugar Bowl and BCS to somehow find a way to arrange for a matchup of undefeated teams in the Sugar Bowl should his Tigers beat Tennessee in the SEC title game. Under the present arrangements, both Utah and Auburn would be playing teams with at least two losses on the schedule.

Meyer has a 38-8 head coaching record. He took Bowling Green to a 17-6 record in two seasons, then 21-2 in his two years at Utah. He was hired at Utah by Machen, who is now in his first year as Florida's president.

The selection of Meyer was first reported by Gator Country two weeks ago.

Zook reportedly has been offered the head coaching job the University of Illinois and is on the final list of two candidates (Louisville's Bobby Petrino is the other) for the vacancy at Ole Miss of the SEC.

Florida has a 7-4 record this season. The Gators have been selected to play in the Peach Bowl, December 31, where they will meet the loser of Saturday's Virginia Tech at Miami game which will determine the Atlantic Coast Conference champion as well as the ACC representative to the BCS. It has not yet been determined if desposed Gator Coach Ron Zook will coach Florida in the bowl game.

Zook reportedly has been offered the head coaching job the University of Illinois and is on the final list of two candidates (Louisville's Bobby Petrino is the other) for the vacancy at Ole Miss of the SEC.


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