Meyer is one of the best coaches in college football history. He has won three national titles (two at Florida, one at Ohio State). He coached two other perfect seasons (one at OSU where probation blocked postseason play, and one at Utah where the BCS kept the Utes from playing for a title).
Meyer wins. A lot. He’s 187-32 overall (.854) and 83-9 (.902) most recently in Columbus.
You know who needs some wins?
“I think all of us, including the fans, want to win a damn football game,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on the NFL Network a couple weeks back. Since then, Dallas lost again, to fall to 6-7 on the season despite a talented roster.
So, Meyer to the Cowboys once Jones fires Jason Garrett at season’s end, presuming the Cowboys don’t rally and somehow make the Super Bowl?
Anything is possible, but if there were ever a situation where a great coach taking over a potentially great team would actually be more likely to fail than succeed, this is it.
There is no denying Meyer can coach college football. He is almost perfectly suited for it. The NFL may be the same sport, but it’s a different game and it would require Meyer to change not just the way he coaches the game, but his hardwired personality.
The man is a control freak. He despises losing. He runs people around him into the ground. He abhors any voice speaking for the program other than his.
If he were ever going to coach in the NFL, about the last place that would work is Jerry Jones’ Cowboys.
Let’s start with the losing. Those 32 defeats that Meyer has suffered over the course of 17 seasons as a head coach? Each one hurt in ways they shouldn’t have hurt. Meyer takes defeats with brutal intensity.
In the 2009 SEC championship game, his No. 1 ranked Florida Gators arrived on a 22-game win streak and as the reigning national champions. They lost to No. 2 Alabama and that night, a depleted, physically and emotionally devastated Meyer was in the hospital having his heart checked. He later briefly retired … for a day.
When his Buckeyes lost the 2013 Big Ten title game to Michigan State, he was seen postgame sitting forlorn on a golf cart, eating pizza, the picture of depression.
Well, losses happen in the NFL. A lot of them. Even to the greatest of coaches.
Bill Belichick has lost 126 times. His winning percentage is an astounding .683. That’s astounding by NFL standards but nowhere near what Meyer is used to in the NCAA.
In college (at least at the elite level) you can declare losses as unforgivable and demand everyone work harder to prevent it. In the NFL, you have to learn to roll with the punches and project an image of the unfazed, confident leader. “We’re on to Cincinnati,” type stuff.
In the NFL, every single weekend is an Alabama game, those contests where you don’t have some overwhelming advantage in talent. Nearly every game is decided by one score. And when injuries hit, you can’t just shuffle in another five-star recruit. When seasons don’t go perfectly, you can’t just go sign 10 more All-Americans.
The NFL is designed to even everything out (records, schedules, draft, salary cap). Meyer hates even. He works and works and works so that he has the edge in everything. That’s what makes him such a great college football coach. He will run a program at full throttle until it becomes nearly impossible. Then he’ll burn out.
As for the Cowboys, this might be the worst fit in a league that doesn’t fit. The team owner is also the general manager because, as Jones often notes, if he is going to sign off on all decisions anyway, why bother bringing in someone else?
Jones is 77 and worth a little over $8 billion. He does what he wants, when he wants. He says what he wants, when he wants. If he speaks out of turn one day, he just switches back the next and there are no repercussions because, well, those billions of dollars. The coach deals with the weekly fallout, inside and outside the locker room.
To be the coach of the Cowboys, you have to appreciate that. Jones is a good owner, one who cares deeply about winning and will invest in every imaginable way in his franchise. As a general manager, he has assembled a very promising roster that should be better than its record.
Yet it isn’t. And after nearly every Dallas game, there is Jones, speaking to the media, at length about whatever he pleases. If there is one thing Garrett has done exceptionally well, it is to work under those circumstances.
Could Urban Meyer? He’d have to, but it likely wouldn’t last.
Jones once employed Bill Parcells, who came to the Cowboys with two Super Bowl rings, excessive NFL credibility in the world and a huge, intimidating personality.
Jerry Jones didn’t care. He kept on talking and prodding and being Jerry Jones. After four seasons and no playoff victories, Parcells was done.
You think Jones would stop now for Meyer?
Never say never when it comes to this stuff, but even if the interest is real and mutual, it doesn’t mean it’s a bright idea.
Jerry Jones is made for the NFL. And Urban Meyer is built for college.
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