Meyer Talks Issues Heading to Sugar Bowl

Urban Meyer continues to have to handle issues with his football program. Almost weekly this season, Meyer dealt with something up with his team. Now he has new coaches and vacancies on his staff. He has recuperated from a hospital bout after the last game, and he has to deal with Dunlap's return to the team after a bout with the law. All in all, Meyer is happy with where things are headed.

Meyer was hospitalized for what some may deem dehydration after his Gators lost in the SEC Championship Game to Alabama. He was released later the same day, but put himself in the emergency room.

"I'm feeling fine," Meyer said before letting folks know he did it to himself. "I don't eat. God makes your body and you are supposed to eat...I just felt awful. I had to go (to the hospital).

Meyer said his team had a good day of practice. His first seeing them in a while since he has been out of town recruiting.

"I sense them real well, we had a really good day today," Meyer said about practice. "We moved up practice early today because of the guys graduating tomorrow. We moved it up so they can enjoy a good day at graduation."

Eleven football players will graduate and walk on Saturday, including eight from the current roster. Markihe Anderson, Jermaine Cunningham, Cade Holliday, David Nelson, Chris Scott, Ryan Stamper, Tim Tebow, and Christopher Coleman will all receive their college degrees this semester. Amazingly enough Tebow, Cunningham, and Anderson did the feat in three and a half years.

The Gators will get an added bonus for the Sugar Bowl matchup with Cincinnati on the defensive side of the ball with the return of Carlos Dunlap to the lineup. Dunlap was suspended indefinitely for an off the field issue involving a DUI. Meyer said there was a lot of discussion as to whether this should take place.

"The decision was made today," Meyer said regarding Dunlap being able to play in the game. "He is going to play. I met with the administration, the president and the athletic director. It was his first mistake, a serious one, but he has been a good student and person and he has handled it well. He was devastated. He just (lately) started out working with the team again."

"There was a lot of discussion. The previous track record (was good) and the administration actually let me know (he could play)."

One issue Meyer has had to deal with since really before the game with Alabama is losing coaches off his team to other programs. Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was rumored to be heading to Louisville the week before the game, and in fact took that job the Wednesday following. The next day wide receiver coach Billy Gonzales bolted for LSU as the receiver coach and passing game coordinator. Meyer isn't sure it is done, but he understands the situation and why people come calling for his program for coaches.

"I just hired a guy (Zach Azzanni as receiver coach) and I hear his name is up for one as a head coaching job," Meyer said. "Congratulations to Doc Holliday, I have been blessed with some great coaches. Charlie Strong, you knew it was just a matter of time. You have to keep going, this is Florida and we hire great coaches."

"It is a challenge because Florida is different. The expectation level we have with our coaches and in these kids lives, it is time consuming and hard, but it works. Although, if you aren't at Florida it is really a challenge, so guys want to come here."

Meyer has a lot of names and numbers to sift through before deciding what to do with the defensive coordinator position. His phone has been busy with coaches calling to be a part of the program.

"I have been on the road," Meyer said when asked if he was close to a decision on what to do. "I am working the phones and have been bombarded. Four of the last five years we have finished in the top 10-15 in defense here at Florida."

Meyer was asked if there was a possibility of promoting from within.

"I don't want to comment because I am still at the ground stages of it," he said. "It's the puzzle, the alignment. Players are number one, assistant coaches are number two, and the head coach is number three. I'm the first one to realize that. All a head coach has to do is recruit good players and have a 'power of the unit' we call it where there are really good assistant coaches."

The phone is ringing off the hook because Meyer has had great success at preparing coaches for the next level of becoming a head coach.

"Someone told me that every coordinator we have had has moved on to be a head coach...that goes back to my days at Bowling Green. The other guys that have moved on have gotten significant pay raises and titles. I do the same thing too, when I look for someone I look to find someone that I really like what they are doing."

Meyer said there are no hard feelings with Gonzales. Gonzales went on to LSU for a significant pay raise and a change in title. The two have worked together since Meyer started as a head coach at Bowling Green nine years ago. Gonzales is a guy that has been pursued a lot by other programs and organizations in the last few years.

"Every year," Meyer said in reference to beating people off to acquire Gonzales. "He had been with me so long, people encouraged him to go and move on. I wish it wasn't to a rival, but he's a good coach. I don't think he was unhappy. I think it was just professional and growth. I can see that and have no animosity."

Gonzales' replacement was hired within a day of Gonzales notifying Meyer of his intentions to leave. Certainly Zach Azzanni was someone Meyer really wanted in case something ever happened to Gonzales.

"It was pretty quick," Meyer said of Azzanni's hire from Central Michigan. "I knew Zach for quite a while and my biggest thing is I needed carryover. He provides that and is extremely well thought of."

In Meyer's first two years there was no change on staff. In the last three, there have been seven staff member changes. Meyer has had a great deal of success hiring guys he has known and worked with, but the quick changeover is making it a bit more difficult.

"You try and it is starting to run out," he said with good coaches he has a history with. "It was easy at first, but is a little more difficult right now."

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