(Greg Bartram/US Presswire)
The new coach at Ohio State has never been in trouble with the NCAA, speaks out against coaches who bend the rules and, in his one year as a college football analyst, played morality watchdog with several of his peers.
But according to the Sporting News, the Urban Meyer we think we know might not be an accurate portrayal. During a three month investigation, the Sporting News uncovered a trend of player drug use and preferential treatment that fractured the Florida teams Meyer coached and is more or less to blame for the struggles Florida is having now under new head coach Will Muschamp.
It was Meyer who declared the Florida program "broken" at the end of his last regular season game in Gainesville in November of 2010. But why was it broken?
"Over the last two years he was there," one former player said, "the players had taken complete control of the team."
Only now, through interviews with multiple sources during a three-month Sporting News investigation, do we see just how damaged the infrastructure really was and how much repair work second-year coach Will Muschamp has had to undertake in replacing Meyer—who has moved on to Ohio State less than a year after resigning from Florida for health reasons. …
Left in the wake of Meyer's resignation were problems that can destroy a coaching career: drug use among players, a philosophy of preferential treatment for certain players, a sense of entitlement among all players and roster management by scholarship manipulation.
The story describes a "Circle of Trust," which referred to a group of the Gators' best players who were given preferential treatment when it came to discipline. The article notes several examples, including wideout Percy Harvin, linebacker Brandon Spikes and tight end Aaron Hernandez, who supposedly missed a game with injuries when in fact all three had failed a drug test. The article also cites Harvin's lack of respect for leadership. Once he refused to do stadium stairs s a conditioning drill, so the team ended up playing basketball instead. He also reportedly physically attacked wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales. He wasn't disciplined for either incident.
Meyer, who is quoted several times throughout the story, denied or talked around most of the allegations throughout the article. But the Sporting News cites quotes from several unnamed sources and uses former Florida safety Bryan Thomas to back up its claims. Thomas, spent two seasons with Florida before knee injuries derailed his career and he was forced to take a medical hardship. He graduated from Florida and spent his final two seasons at North Alabama.
The entire article is an interesting look at a coach who is regarded as one of the moral pillars of college football. While the revelations in this article likely aren't cause for some sort of NCAA investigation — there are several players around the country who get preferential treatment and have a sense of entitlement — it should give Ohio State fans some pause especially after similar issues crept into Buckeyes program a year ago.
- Urban Meyer