The Jacksonville Jaguars announced that Urban Meyer will become the NFL team’s seventh head coach in franchise history.
The club seemed to be seriously considering Meyer a viable candidate even before the firing of Doug Marrone at the end of a miserable 1-15 season. Despite some baggage, and apparently side stepping the spirit of the league’s Rooney Rule, the Jaguars pronounced the hiring last week as a landmark day.
“This is a great day for Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere,” said Jaguars Owner Shad Khan. “Urban Meyer is who we want and need, a leader, winner and champion who demands excellence and produces results. While Urban already enjoys a legacy in the game of football that few will ever match, his passion for the opportunity in front of him here in Jacksonville is powerful and unmistakable. I am proud to name Urban Meyer the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”
According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated on Jan. 6 the Jaguars had been in contact with Meyer for “close to a month, if not longer” and that the job was Meyer’s if he wanted it.
If that’s the case, the Jaguars did fulfill the letter of the Rooney Rule. Adopted in 2003, the Rooney Rule is an NFL policy requiring every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one or more diverse candidates.
Don’t expect to hear a peep from the NFL. It is easier to run TV commercials on diversity.
Having retired twice in his 20-year coaching career, in his last job Meyer served as a studio analyst for college football at FOX Sports. He was usually enthusiastic, confident and spot on with any broadcast assessment of Ohio State and Florida.
Probably due to his relationships with head coaches Ryan Day and Dan Mullen. Otherwise, he didn’t provide much insight. Often seemingly disinterested or unprepared.
Meyer has accumulated an impressive 187-32 record and a .854 winning percentage, the third highest in college football history, during head coaching stints at Ohio State (2012-18), Florida (2005-10), Utah (2003-04) and Bowling Green (2001-02).
At Utah, Meyer mentored QB Alex Smith, who threw for 2,952 yards and 32 TDs and ran for 631 yards and
10 TDs in 2004 before being the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
His career next took him to Gainesville, where his six-year stint saw two national titles and a 65-15 record with the Gators. He led Florida to national championships in 2006 and 2008 and tutored local hero Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2007.
Yahoo Sports columnist Shalise Manza Young cited his half dozen seasons at Florida. During which over 30 Gators players were arrested, some for misdemeanors like underage drinking and disorderly conduct, but there were also charges that included aggravated assault, repeatedly using the credit card of a woman who died in a motorcycle accident, and the multiple, violent transgressions of Aaron Hernandez.
Meyer retired for the first time, in 2010, citing health reasons. He returned to coaching in 2012 with Ohio State.
The Buckeyes won the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship in 2014. Meyer had also known for years that assistant coach Zach Smith repeatedly abused his wife. He kept silent. Ohio State suspended Meyer for the first three games of the 2018 season.
He would later retire. Again.
Meyer does have a track record of success with future professional talent. He has had 76 players drafted, including 21 first-round selections.
“I’m ready to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars,” said Meyer. “Jacksonville has an enthusiastic fan base, and the fans deserve a winning team. With upcoming opportunities in the NFL Draft, and strong support from ownership, the Jaguars are well-positioned to become competitive. I’ve analyzed this decision from every angle—the time is right in Jacksonville, and the time is right for me to return to coaching. I’m excited about the future of this organization and our long-term prospect for success.”
Jaguars’ fans and the idol-worshipping local media are excited about the hire. And they may be right. Meyer’s past won’t matter to most if he brings a championship to Jacksonville.