ORLANDO, Fla. — Two, three, four years ago when the name Urban Meyer was mentioned, the mind's eye conjured up a vision of a steadfast and resolute coach decisive, determined, undeniably unwavering.
Not anymore. Now when I think of Urban Meyer, I see a coach who is uncertain, shaky, wishy-washy. I see a man who cannot make up his mind about who he is, where he is headed and what his program is all about.
His indecisiveness started last December when he resigned suddenly and reneged the very next day. Remember? He told everyone he was quitting because he wanted to spend more time with his family and then he made the decision to come back without consulting with his family.
And now here we are nearly a year later and his indecision is now undermining his team. Example: After South Carolina's 36-14 dismantling of his Gators Saturday, Meyer was asked who his best quarterback is right now.
His response: "I can't answer that question."
Really? Ten games into the season and a $4 million-a-year coach still doesn't know if he wants this quarterback ... that quarterback ... or maybe that quarterback. Since when did Urban Meyer turn into teen-age girl shopping for shoes?
Meyer was always one of those tough, hard-nosed coaches who talked about three things: Leadership, courage, character. It sure would be nice if he started practicing what he once preached. It's time for him to show some leadership, have the courage to make tough decisions, have the character to stand behind those decisions.
In his six years at Florida, Meyer has never fired an assistant coach or benched a starting quarterback. And now, it appears, he should probably do both. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and quarterback John Brantley are not getting the job done and changes need to be made.
Except Meyer seems unwilling to make them. He reiterated Monday that Addazio's job is safe and Brantley will likely start at quarterback again this week. Even if Meyer is going to do nothing, can't he at least show some passion, act angry and assure his fan base that "nobody's job is safe!"
All year long Meyer has been trying to convince us what a great job Addazio is doing. It's almost as if he is in denial sort of like President George W. Bush after Katrina when he told America how proud he was of former FEMA Director Michael Brown. Who will ever forget Bush's silly words: "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."
Well, how many times this season have we heard Meyer essentially say the same thing about Addazio ... Stevie, you're doing a heckuva job.
Three words: No he's not.
Florida's offense is an embarrassment. It is a legitimate mess. The Gators are ranked 84th in the nation in total offense one spot ahead of Louisiana Lafayette. The line can't block. The receivers can't get open. And who's the quarterback?
Everybody is wondering why Florida's offense is so dysfunctional and discombobulated. You think it might be because they are playing THREE quarterbacks—Brantley, Trey Burton and Jordan Reed? There's an old saying, "When you have two quarterbacks, you really have none." What about when you have THREE quarterbacks?
It's been clear for weeks that Brantley is miscast in Meyer's spread-option offense. He is like a thoroughbred playing in a system meant for a Clydesdale. He is the broccoli spear sitting on a plate with hamburger and French fries.
Brantley, for his own good, should consider transferring to a system that is better suited for his talents. Meyer, for the good of the Gators, should help Brantley find a school that understands the vertical passing game.Comment on this story
Why Meyer ever signed Brantley, when he wasn't going to change his offense to accommodate a dropback passer, seems puzzling now. But it really shouldn't be. You see, it's called recruiting gluttony.
Brantley was arguably the No. 1 high school quarterback in the country coming out of high school. He was the Gatorade Offensive Player of the Year. His father and uncle played for the Gators. And, so, Meyer signed Brantley just because he could; because Brantley would be another five-star name in another top recruiting class.
Now Urban Meyer has to make things right.
He has to make the tough call.
He has to step on some toes and hurt some feelings.
You wonder if he still has the stomach for it.