Doc 5: Best college football coaching backouts -- No. 4 Urban Meyer

Graham Watson
April 8, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators directs his team against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



On Dec. 6, 2009, Florida coach Urban Meyer was admitted into a Gainesville hospital after suffering from chest pains and dehydration. The Gators had just returned home following a loss in the 2009 SEC title game and the season had taken its toll on Meyer.

On Dec. 26, Meyer told media he planned to resign his head coaching position following the team’s appearance in the Sugar Bowl. A day later, he amended his decision and declared it an indefinite leave of absence.

Meyer returned to the team in March 2010 and led the Gators to a 7-5 season, the worst of his tenure, before he walked away for good following an Outback Bowl win on Jan. 1, 2011.

It was hard for Florida fans to take. During Meyer’s tenure the Gators were 65-15. They won two national championships, went to three BCS bowl games and boasted a Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Tim Tebow.

For Florida fans, this was a return to the glory years the program experienced in the 1990s when they consistently posted double-digit win seasons and competed for SEC championships.

Meyer got the program back on track and with him at the helm, there was no limit to how good it could ultimately be.

But when he stepped down in March 2011, people understood. It was about his health and his family and fears that he might not be around to see his daughter graduate from high school. It was hard to swallow, but most people understood and most people wished Meyer well as he went on his way into retirement.

Or so Florida fans thought.

After a year of taking it easy and doing some broadcasting work with ESPN, Meyer’s afflictions were healed and he was ready to take his talents to Ohio State.

It was a slap in the face to Florida fans who felt duped. After buying Meyer’s story about his ailing health, they watched him spell out Ohio with his arms and threw objects at their television screens.

None of it made sense. Meyer had it made in Florida. If he needed some time to get his health in order, Florida probably would have given him the time. But he walked away from the stresses of coaching Florida and into the stresses of coaching Ohio State.

And what’s worse is that Meyer has excelled in his new position. In his two seasons with the Buckeyes, he’s gone 24-2. His team could have played in the BCS National Championship in 2012 had it not been for NCAA sanctions. A late loss to Michigan State in 2013 took the Buckeyes out of the national championship picture.

Meanwhile, Florida has struggled mightily since Meyer left. Will Muschamp is 22-16 in his three seasons, but did have some success in 2012 with an 11-2 record. However, the positive feelings that were flowing through the program during the bulk of Meyer’s tenure are not there now and Muschamp is in a win-or-be-fired situation in 2014.

Meyer never lied about his health condition, but he was disingenuous about the role football played in it. Florida fans had a great thing going for a few years and then it was all taken away and shipped to that School Up North.

Not sure Florida fans will ever forgive Meyer for that one.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter