Why no­body is sad about Ur­ban Meyer’s so-called ‘re­tire­ment’

Ledger-Enquirer - - Front page - BY MIKE BIANCHI Or­lando Sentinel

How sad is it that there is no sad­ness?

When Ohio State foot­ball coach Ur­ban Meyer an­nounced he was re­tir­ing Tues­day, the col­lege foot­ball world re­acted not with warm good­byes and glow­ing trib­utes but with cyn­i­cal com­ments and skep­ti­cal columns.

There were no heavy hearts; only cocked eye­brows.

Usu­ally, when one of the great­est coaches of all time an­nounces his re­tire­ment os­ten­si­bly for health rea­sons, there are cheers and tears and cry­ing-in-our-beers. But on the day Ur­ban Meyer sup­pos­edly re­tired, the first thought that crossed every­body’s mind was, “Yeah, right.”

“I be­lieve I won’t coach again,” Meyer said Tues­day. I be­lieve I don’t be­lieve him. And nei­ther does any­body else – in­clud­ing Meyer him­self.

As the old joke goes, “How do you know when Ur­ban Meyer is ly­ing? … His lips are mov­ing.”

Let’s not for­get, it was just a cou­ple of days ago when Meyer said he planned on coach­ing at Ohio State next sea­son. And, now, sud­denly, he’s re­tir­ing for good? If you be­lieve that, I have a some ocean­front prop­erty I’ll sell you in Topeka.

Se­ri­ously, will any­body be shocked in a few months if Meyer is coach­ing USC, Auburn, the Cleve­land Browns or the Green Bay Pack­ers?

Haven’t we seen this movie be­fore?

It was eight years ago at the Univer­sity of Flor­ida when Meyer left os­ten­si­bly be­cause of health rea­sons and be­cause he wanted to spend more time with his fam­ily. Turns out, he wanted to spend more time with his ESPN fam­ily. Within weeks af­ter leav­ing UF (and get­ting a $1 mil­lion re­tire­ment bonus on his way out the door), he was trav­el­ing the

coun­try as a rov­ing ESPN col­lege foot­ball com­men­ta­tor. Within months, he had ac­cepted his “dream” job at Ohio State.

I can still hear the anger and dis­ap­point­ment in the voice of UF foot­ball le­gend and Pro Foot­ball Hall-ofFamer Jack Young­blood af­ter Meyer ac­cepted the job at Ohio State. Young­blood had con­sid­ered Meyer a close friend – un­til he felt Meyer lied to him.

“When some­body tells me some­thing to my face, I ex­pect it to be the truth,” Young­blood told me then. “When it turns out to not be the truth, that doesn’t ( put him) very high on my Christ­mas-card list.”

And when you re­ally think about it, it was his dis­hon­esty that ul­ti­mately led to his “re­tire­ment” an­nounce­ment on Tues­day. He not only lied to the me­dia about his knowl­edge of do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence al­le­ga­tions against now-fired as­sis­tant coach Zach Smith, he lied to Ohio State’s own ad­min­is­tra­tion. He was caught ly­ing and delet­ing text mes­sages by a univer­sity com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing why Meyer har­bored a do­mes­tic abuser such as Smith on his staff for years.

Meyer was sus­pended for the first three games of this sea­son, and I truly be­lieve that’s why he stepped down on Tues­day. I think his ego took such a hit and his ar­ro­gance is so im­mense that he made the de­ci­sion to leave right af­ter the sus­pen­sion. His “re­tire­ment” an­nounce­ment is re­ally just the cul­mi­na­tion of a month­s­long tem­per tantrum.

It’s no se­cret, I am not big fan of Ur­ban Meyer. I’ve writ­ten many times he is the most disin­gen­u­ous coach I’ve ever cov­ered as a sports writer. How­ever, you can­not deny his great­ness. He and Nick Sa­ban are the only head coaches in ma­jor col­lege his­tory to win na­tional cham­pi­onships at two dif­fer­ent schools. His 186 wins are the most through 17 sea­sons in ma­jor col­lege foot­ball his­tory and his win­ning per­cent­age (.853) is the high­est.

Then why?

Why is there so much glad­ness in­stead of sad­ness to­day?

Why is Ur­ban Meyer re­viled when he should be revered?

My an­swer to these ques­tions is based on the fact that I cov­ered two of the great­est col­lege foot­ball coaches in his­tory – Meyer and Steve Spurrier – when they were at the Univer­sity of Flor­ida. I could tell you a zil­lion funny sto­ries about Spurrier; I don’t have one I can tell you about Meyer.

Like­wise, Ga­tors fans adored the Head Ball Coach; they stom­ached Ur­ban Meyer. They loved the can­did, col­or­ful Spurrier be­cause he was not only a great tac­ti­cian but an en­gag­ing per­son­al­ity; they tol­er­ated the icy, aloof Meyer sim­ply be­cause he won a lot of games.

Ur­ban Meyer, one of the great­est col­lege foot­ball coaches in the his­tory of the sport, an­nounced his “re­tire­ment” on Tues­day. Isn’t any­one sad? Any­one?

AP file photo

Ur­ban Meyer, pic­tured run­ning onto the field with Ohio State at the start of the 2014 Big Ten Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship, an­nounced Tues­day that he will re­tire af­ter the Rose Bowl.

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