Florida's Meyer resigns again, this time for good

By Mark Long

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Dec. 9 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2007, file photo, Florida coach Urban Meyer leads his team onto the field for their NCAA college football game against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. Meyer is stepping down as coach after the Gators appearance in the Outback Bowl. In a statement released by the university on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, Meyer says "it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field."

Ed Reinke, File, Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Urban Meyer lasted six years and a day at Florida.

In between his introduction and resignation, he won 64 games, two Southeastern Conference championships, two national titles and several coaching honors.

His legacy is secure.

His future is uncertain.

Meyer resigned Wednesday, stepping down for the second time in less than a year. His first attempt, which lasted just a day, was for health reasons. This time it's "to focus on family and my other interests away from the sidelines," he said.

Meyer didn't rule out coaching again, but in the meantime he intends to become a better husband and a better father to his three children.

"At the end of the day, I'm very convinced that you're going to be judged on how you are as a husband and as a father and not on how many bowl games we won," Meyer said. "I've not seen my two girls play high school sports. They're both very talented Division I-A volleyball players, so I missed those four years. ... I can't get that time back."

Meyer will stick around and coach the Gators (7-5) in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day against Penn State and coach Joe Paterno, a matchup some thought would be the last for one of the guys in charge. Few figured it would be Meyer's finale, though.

Meyer initially considered stepping down last December after he was hospitalized with chest pain following Florida's lopsided loss to Alabama in the SEC title game. Meyer resigned Dec. 26, then had a change of heart the next day.

"Last year was a knee-jerk reaction," Meyer said. "This year was just completely different."

Some point to Florida's five losses and say the 46-year-old coach couldn't handle the mounting pressure. Others believe Meyer didn't have the desire to rebuild a program that slipped considerably in just a year.

Meyer insists it's all about family.

His oldest daughter, Nicole, is a sophomore at Georgia Tech. His other daughter, Gigi, is a high school senior who plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast next fall. His youngest child, Nate, is 12 and playing baseball and football.

"I made a commitment to them recently that I'm going to enjoy the rest of the years of their lives, and that's right now," Meyer said.

Colleagues praised Meyer for having the conviction to walk away, even though most of them seemingly find ways to balance work and family.

"The world of college football will miss Urban," said former USC coach Pete Carroll, who left his job for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. "He had major personal issues and health issues a year ago, and I'm sure that he did everything he could to fight it off. Now he's making decisions that are probably exactly what he needs to be doing."

Added Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer: "It's just a harder job than it used to be. It's always been about winning, but there's a lot more that goes into it these days. This profession isn't any fun. I think he's just went through a season that wasn't any fun. It's hard to explain, but it's tough."

Meyer called Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley on Saturday to tell him he was contemplating retirement. They met Tuesday to finalize the deal.

Meyer, who earned nearly $18 million in six seasons at Florida, signed a six-year, $24 million extension in 2009. So he's walking away from about $20 million guaranteed. But Foley agreed to pay a $1 million retention bonus the coach would have received had he been employed on Jan. 31, 2011.

For Foley, that's a small reward for everything Meyer gave the Gators.

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