Urban Meyer has left every program he’s coached at in disgrace. While he has won more than he lost, except at Jacksonville, he has done so surrounded by scandal and unethical behavior. While Meyer likes to pass himself off as a man of strong character and a molder of men, he is anything but.
Sports Illustrated columnist Wright Thompson, who writes about all things important to the American South, refers to him as “a football coach who tries to balance the kind of man he wants to be with the kind of man he is.” What he is does not bode well for whatever school decides to put winning at all costs above its fundamental values and mission.
Nebraska does not need Urban Meyer, nor should it want him.
This man proclaims to be all about family and respecting women. Contrast those claims against his actions.
He skipped a flight back to Jacksonville with the team to “spend time with family” only to show up in a video with a very young woman who was definitely not his wife, giving him what is easily described as a lap dance. The video clarified that Meyer reciprocated by grinding her as well. Of course, a half-assed apology was issued, and he went about his job coaching the Jaguars.
Things then went from bad to worse when he reportedly called all of his assistant coaches “losers” and is said to have kicked his kicker, Josh Lambo in the leg and demeaned him.
Urban Meyer was a hot commodity due to all the wins he accumulated coaching college teams, but when it became apparent to him that no coach in the NFL has the same absolute control over his team as he did in college, he sought to find a way out. His boorish behavior eventually led to his dismissal, along with the Jags dismal performance on the field.
As Chris Korman wrote, “Meyer is the quintessential college coach, a smooth-talking salesman who built fiefdoms on football-mad campuses where he could get away with almost anything as long as his teams won.”
Before he started coaching the Jacksonville Jaguars, he hired disgraced former Iowa strength coach, Chris Doyle. Doyle, a loyal and longtime confidant of head coach Kirk Ferentz, was let go by the Hawkeyes because of his racist behavior and bullying of players. He was also at the center of a rash of players contracting Rhabdomyolysis because of the training routine he had in place for the football team.
That Meyer thought it was a good idea to hire a person with this resume speaks volumes of the person he is.
When he was at the top of his game at Ohio State, after winning Big Ten titles and the National Championship, his program was once again put under a black cloud because of his actions, or actually, his lack of action.
When he left in 2018, he claimed it was the “result of cumulative events,” with his health being the top concern. He was diagnosed with an arachnoid cyst in his brain and he remarked on how coaching affects his mental health, which is the same reason he gave when he left Florida.
Just like Florida, the illnesses seemed a convenient way to leave because the fire was getting too hot for other reasons. At Ohio State, an investigation concluded that Meyer mishandled domestic abuse allegations by his receiver coach, Zach Smith, and he was actually suspended for three games at the start of the 2018 season. Digging deeper into the findings of the investigation, Meyer lied about knowing anything about Smith’s history as a domestic abuser. Meyer apparently was aware of allegations in 2015, as well other egregious behavior by Smith, yet he kept him on his staff.
At Florida, perhaps the most blatant failure of his as head coach was 31 arrests of 25 of his players. Most egregious was that he created something referred to as the Circle of Trust, which was a clique of elite players whose destructive behavior was tolerated in order to win championships.
Percy Harvin assaulted an assistant coach and was never suspended. Failed drug tests were covered up by saying players were injured, and players were said to be injured to avoid drug tests. It was widely reported that Meyer covered up Aaron Hernandez’s violent behavior and drug abuse, clear from stories written after Hernandez was convicted of murder,
Urban Meyer won a lot of games at Florida and Ohio State including National Championships. He did that by ruling his programs with an iron fist, forcing others to agree to his demands. In recruiting circles, he was known as a negative recruiter, and even forced other coaches at his institution to bow to his wants. At one coaching stop, he pressured a coach in another sport to offer a scholarship to a girlfriend of a player he was recruiting. He expects others in an athletic department to give in to his wants.
People want to say that other successful coaches are not different, including Tom Osborne, who gave second chances to players like Lawrence Phillips. Osborne did not lie about Phillips’ behavior, nor did he cover it up. With Meyer, you have a person who lied about what he knew and, more damaging, taking part in covering things up.
Character means something. No head coach is infallible. They have all made mistakes. Judging character is a dangerous endeavor as “he who lives in a glass house shall cast no stones.” However, when obsession leads to circumventing and breaking the rules, as well as protecting criminal behavior, it is pretty easy to point a finger at Urban Meyer and question his character.
Urban Meyer can go somewhere else desperate for a coach that will bring wins and walk away from that program under a dark cloud and scandal a few years later.
History repeats itself. Meyer has repeated his history at each stop he’s made along the way.
Nebraska can do without him. There are other coaches that do it the right way, even when no one is looking, that can lead this program back to its winning ways.