Urban Meyer’s Legacy
The college football season has finally come to an end with Ohio State being the last team standing in the first ever College Football Playoff (CFP). With more than a full decade since the last Ohio State National Championship, it must taste even sweeter for Buckeyes fans with it being a historical accomplishment without the overshadowing of controversy which still persists to this day like your last one against the University of Miami.
Leading the scarlet and gray charge against the Ducks from Oregon, was one of the best in the business currently in head coach Urban Meyer. His record with rings, trophies and number of wins piling higher and higher every year, speaks for itself on the field. You would have a hard time finding anyone in the FBS ranks who has a better resume outside of maybe Alabama’s Nick Saban. His talent as a coach simply cannot be denied.
A college football fan can’t help but appreciate just how rare Meyer’s accomplishment was. Let’s take a look at the University of Florida to Ohio State connection for a second. Meyer won the National Championship against the Buckeyes as the head coach of the Gators, stomping them 41-14 after Ohio State lost their best player to injury during a celebration after returning the opening kick for a touchdown. Making it hurt even worse, Florida went on to beat Ohio State for the National Championship in basketball that year as well. Meyer takes the year off in 2011 and Ohio State just happens to play Florida in the Gator Bowl and loses. Then Meyer takes over OSU and goes undefeated in his first season, something he could never accomplish at Florida and now has won the first ever CFP Championship while the Gators have just hired their second coach since Meyer’s departure.
Following the CFP final game, you could hear and read everyone in the media singing his praises. Then, as expected, the negative comments regarding Urban Meyer began surfacing on Twitter, blogs, message boards and the fun comment sections of videos and articles online. Why these comments?
Although his ability to lead a team, at least for a handful of years, is undeniable, it is his reputation off the field, more specifically with his players, which draws the criticism and accusations of hypocrisy.
Should he be considered one of the greatest coaches of our generation, if not all time? Should we consider the impact of issues off the field when considering the legacy of a coach who is one of the best on the field? This question has been raised quite a bit lately with the restoration of wins to Joe Paterno by the NCAA at Penn State University.
One ESPN’s best commentators and Ohio State alum Kirk Herbstreit, had this to say on Twitter following the game:
Is he he right? Should we be “BEYOND proud” of a coach with players previously who had so many indiscretions both during their time playing for Meyer and after? A coach who previously quit coaching his team when things were getting tough (either in reality or in his mind) leading him to stress so much it caused health issues, having to pop Ambien and drink alcohol just to sleep and having to have his wife call 911 for him one night when he wouldn’t respond, then returned to his team before leaving again? A coach who is seemingly dishonest everywhere he goes and cares far more about winning than time with his family or the character of the young men he influences? Even rumors of infidelity. All of these items are easily found with a simple search online. Should we be proud of such a man just because he can win championships while being paid a seven figure salary?
This is a man who many believed represented all that was wrong with college football. Many scoffed at the idea of Ohio State hiring a man with his reputation when they were trying to clean up their image after the Jim Tressel years and believed Meyer was the absolute worse choice with his “win at all cost” attitude.
This and all the post-game discussions about Meyer is what brought us to considering a coach’s, and a man’s, potential legacy. This is why we have decided to take a detailed look at Urban Meyer’s head coaching career and see if we can get an idea of what kind of legacy may follow him. We might see if he is the Urban Meyer the experts are telling us he is, or if his nickname of “Urban Liar” really holds weight.
We apologize in advance for the seemingly lack of succinct content, but there is just so much to cover.
As a society, should we be concerned when we have someone with such a negative history representing college football at the top of the mountain as the crowned champion? Considering within the same week the NCAA decided to hand back all the wins to former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, a man we know did little to prevent the actions of a sick individual in his facility. Many say having such a man representing the game with the most wins of all time and the current champion being Meyer, is a huge black eye for college football with all the negativity surrounding the sport today at both the college and professional levels with alleged coverups, domestic violence and sexual assault.
What do the “experts” have to say?
In this ESPN video, Mark May says about Meyer, “He’s right at the top…up there with Nick Saban.” Even makes comparisons to former football coaching greats like Pop Warner and Knute Rockne.
Now those comparisons may be a bit of a stretch right now to those former greats, but another year like he had this year, most would agree he could very well be in that conversation.
In the same video, Brian Griese even suggests this past season for Meyer was, “the best coaching job, potentially, in the history of college football.”
Well, it certainly was impressive. What he was able to do with a 3rd string quarterback at the end of the year, was quite a sight to see. However, the best ever? Considering all the great coaches and great teams of all time, it may be stretch. Then again, maybe not.
It’s not as if Cardale Jones is an undersized scrub. He was a top 10 or 12 player at his position coming out of high school depending on which recruiting service you followed, he is older for his class after spending a year in prep school after graduating high school (which does not count against your NCAA eligibility) and he started at OSU the same year Meyer arrived; so has been in the same offensive system for all of his three seasons. It also does not hurt he is the same size of Cam Newton (who we know is built for Meyer’s system), if not a little bigger, has a cannon for an arm and is a tremendous athlete. So basically, you could be in a much worse position if you got down to your third guy.
That is the kind of athlete Urban Meyer was blessed to have as a third stringer. Not to mention the cannon of an arm:
It also doesn’t hurt the fact OSU faced Oregon in the championship game who ranked statistically on defense as one of the worst in the country, just above Kent St, Maryland and Cincinnati, each of which OSU scored at least 50 points against. Not to take away from his performance against a highly ranked Alabama defense, but if we are honest with ourselves, Blake Sims lost that game much more than Jones won it. You do not beat Alabama very often throwing for 51% on 35 attempts. The interceptions by Sims, especially late in the game including a pick-six did Alabama in. Ezekiel Elliot helped out a great deal too obviously. When you have a guy who can run for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns against Alabama, that helps your QB out a bit.
Many want to give a lot of credit to Urban Meyer for being able to coach so well even his third stringer was successful and we will too. However, we also recognize the fact Jones is an incredible talent in his own right and doing things you just can not coach.
Urban Meyer the “Innovator”?
Is Meyer’s success because he is an “an ‘innovator’ with the spread offense, with his imprint going back years and years” like mentioned in the ESPN video previously mentioned? Will he have a legacy as an offensive innovator?
Most with knowledge of the game would say it is highly doubtful, but with the way the media creates their own stories and the masses follow it, who really knows now?
He is hardly the first to run a spread offensive system. His success is due primarily from being a great salesman (even if a snake oil variety) to recruits, making sure his players are on the field when it counts regardless of off-the-field issues along with his ability to bring players and coaches together to form a team who respects him and buys into his system. Now that can be the sign of a great coach, but not necessarily a great innovator.
That’s not to say he doesn’t have a sharp offensive mind and can’t throw his own wrinkles into plays here and there, but not much of what he does is truly “innovative” by the definition of the word.
In fact, not much of what he does is original at all. Nearly all of it goes back decades and can be attributed to a coach doing it years before Urban Meyer was even born. I’ll even throw a fun piece of trivia out there: he’s not even the first Meyer to have success using this system.
The real innovator is a man who wasn’t even born in the last century and most average college football fans outside of TCU have probably never even heard of, even though he is in the College Football Hall of Fame, won two national championships as a coach and even accomplished something still avoiding Urban Meyer, the undefeated National Championship season.
His name is Leo Robert “Dutch” Meyer, a lifelong Texan, born in January of 1898 and the real innovator of the spread offense and even some of the gadget plays Urban runs. Although it is a funny coincidence they share the same last name, run a similar offense and won National Championships, they are not related (as far as anyone knows).
Like has been said, everyone takes from here and there and adds their own wrinkles to their offense and things have certainly changed since the era of Dutch Meyer with plays and systems evolving based on personnel, the era of the game, defenses faced, techniques, etc. Urban Meyer probably had the best advantages to run such an offense and bring it back to life at a big time program in the midst of a recruiting hotbed like at the University of Florida, while other teams in the conference never used it and rarely played against it.
With that said, some of the formations may be a bit different obviously, but take a look at some of the uncanny similarities between what we see Urban Meyer do in the modern era and what Dutch Meyer was doing all those decades ago:
And there are many more, but the shovel pass and jump pass are my particular favorites and likely most would not have expected those plays to have originated so long ago, or by a Meyer not named Urban.
Full Dutch Meyer video:
Will he have a legacy of being a great offensive “innovator”? Well, as shown above, there is a Coach Meyer who is a great offensive innovator in his day, but it doesn’t look to be Urban Meyer.
Urban Meyer, the “Molder of Young Men”?
Most would not blame you if you had a good chuckle reading that question considering Urban Meyer’s reputation and history, particularly during his tenure with the Florida Gators.
That however, does not stop the media from molding a narrative as if he has never had such an unbecoming past with his players.
In this video here on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith says, “He teaches the right values.” when referring to Urban Meyer.
In the same video linked previously, the attached article has quotes from his former player Tim Tebow and former coaching comrade at the University of Utah and current Oregon State head coach, Gary Andersen.
“Look at his impact at Bowling Green. Look at his impact at Utah. They were undefeated there and didn’t have a chance to win it all,” said former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, part of both national championship teams at Florida and now an ESPN analyst. “His legacy is only going to improve, and that’s important to him, as well — not just his legacy with the championships, but his legacy with the players that he has coached and the relationships and his impact on college football. That means a lot to him.”
“Urban Meyer is a great person, and he admires the game and respects the game of college football and the kids involved in the game,” Andersen said. “To me, that is the best thing you can say about Urban Meyer. The championships are great, and all those things are wonderful. But I promise you, that’s not first and foremost for him. It’s the ability he has to be involved and change young men’s lives.
“I guarantee you the rings and the championships and all the other stuff are awesome. It’s a big part of it. It’s a great thing. But it’s not what he puts on his pedestal. It’s his kids and his family, and that’s why I have such great respect for him.”
Now, we have some pretty high praise here which are kind words, but not exactly in line with what we know of Urban Meyer’s past. However, is Meyer going to leave a legacy of shaping the character of young athletes like many coaches before him?
Let us first take a look at the standard Meyer holds his program to as he puts in black and white in his playbook.
Honesty seems to be a very high priority to Urban Meyer:
Does this hold true for coaches as well?
This is certainly an interesting page from his book:
Here we have a clear view on his Discipline policy and even our first view of scripture:
Well, we will take a detailed look at the track record with his word and players so far to see how his actions compare to his words and what, if any, hypocrisy exists.
A man of his word…or actions?
First, we will address the previous schools Tebow brought up, Bowling Green and Utah before reviewing his words publicly in a timeline and later to recruits and players during his time at the University of Florida.
In 2001, Urban Meyer took over as head coach at Bowling Green State University where he found quick success. After taking over at Bowling Green, for the rest of his career, his words didn’t always add up to his actions at each stop.
To the fans and players:
This has all been well documented, but just to refresh, here are some of the things Urban Meyer said publicly leading up to his departure from the program following the 2002 season to take over as head coach at the University of Utah:
November 13, 2002: Urban Meyer Press Conference – “This is a long term process (building a football program). I always say there are only about eight or 10 really good football programs where year in and year out they win.”
December 6, 2002: Meyer to The Bowling Green Sentinel – “We are nowhere near what we can do here. That’s what’s driving me right now. Everybody’s worried about those other places; nothing’s going on.”
“I was contacted by one, but I’m not interested. I love it here. We have a lot of work to do. That’s the bottom line.”
“With recruits, that’s been for two years, even before we won. [They say,] ‘that guy’s not going to be there very long’; that’s silly … The future is fantastic here … I’m proud to be the football coach here. Once they get to know me, know my family, know how important it is to have continuity, my kids going to school somewhere.”
“I think you all but guarantee that you are one of the top two, three teams in the league every year if you get that [new athletic facility] here. I feel so strong about the academics, about the community, the environment, about the people. It’s the last piece; it’s a significant piece.”
December 11, 2002: Urban Meyer leaves Bowling Green for Utah.
December 13, 2002: Toledo Blade – “In the words of any Bowling Green football player today: ‘I thought we were your family.’ Bowling Green’s players are understandably angry at Meyer for leaving. Every day he would preach team loyalty. Meyer carried his we-are-family concept to the extreme, even bunking in the same dorm with the Falcons during preseason workouts.”
Here are some of public statements leading up to his departure from Utah to take the job at the University of Florida:
October 5, 2004: Meyer to The Deseret News – “It [leaving Bowling Green] was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was devastating. I didn’t realize — and maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly — but I thought it was going to be one of those things where you shake hands, give a big hug and say ‘good luck.'”
October 30, 2004: Meyer to The Deseret News – “First of all, I love it here. But I’m second fiddle. My family is No. 1, and they love it here. As long as we’re filling the stadium, as long as we’re continuing to grow as a program and as long as I feel these student-athletes are getting the best opportunity to be a top 25 program — which I think it is — I’m going to be the coach here.”
November 14, 2004: Meyer to The New York Times – “I’m chicken. It would be excruciating to leave. When I left Bowling Green, it was the worst three months.'”
November 15, 2004: Meyer to The The Deseret News – “I plan on coaching here for a long time.”
November 17, 2004: The Deseret News – “Meyer told the New York Times last week, ‘I’m chicken. It would be excruciating to leave. When I left Bowling Green, it was the worst three months.'”
“Wrote Mike Sorenson, ‘It’s been well-documented that Meyer’s wife, Shelley, was a big factor in Meyer taking the Utah job. She wanted to move back to the West because she enjoyed the family’s time in Colorado when he was an assistant at Colorado State. Shelley and the kids seem to love the outdoor lifestyle, and she has told friends and neighbors that they aren’t going anywhere.'”
“Mike Sorenson wrote, ‘Some folks may question his loyalty because he left Bowling Green after just two years. But Meyer has said, the six months after that was one of the hardest times of his life, because he felt so bad for leaving. Does he really want to go through that again just two years later?’ [um, yes.]”
November 17, 2004: Meyer to The Deseret News – “I plan on coaching at Utah next year. There’s been no contact made. Period. It’s almost comical. We’re playing the biggest game in the history of the school and we’re talking about that. That’s nothing to do with nothing. [Shelley Meyer served her employer 2-weeks notice the next day.]”
November 17, 2004: St. Petersburg Times – “Wrote Antony A Engligh, “Shelley will be heavily involved in Meyer’s next move. ‘She’s a coach’s wife, that’s what she does for a living,’ Bud Meyer said. ‘It’s a big job. It’s a job that she (wants) to be informed, but she does a very good job.'””
November 18, 2004: Meyer to The Deseret News – “There’s been no contact and I really don’t anticipate any. I’m certainly not looking for a job. I love where I’m coaching.”
November 18, 2004: Urban Meyer Coach’s Show – “When asked by a young boy if he was going to be the coach next year, Urban replied very directly, ‘I plan on being the coach at the University of Utah next year.'”
November 20, 2004: Meyer to Memory – “As long as I’m married, I’ll be the coach at Utah. [exact date unknown, source is a local sports show]”
November 24, 2004 : The Deseret News – “Though Meyer is frequently mentioned as a candidate for more lucrative coaching jobs, he denies any contact has been made. ‘I’m not out looking, so if someone’s waiting for me to pick up the phone it’s not going to happen,’ said Meyer. And there’s little chance of that over the next four days. Meyer plans to turn his telephone off over the holiday break while he spends lost time with his family. He isn’t expecting a lot of calls, anyhow. Word is out that he loves Utah, Meyer explained, and schools are funny about that. Despite speculation to the contrary, including a Florida fan-based Web site that reported a deal with Meyer has already been reached, the coach insists he represents himself. And that no talks have taken place. ‘I don’t have an agent. People are trying to get me to have one, but I’m just not comfortable with that kind of stuff,’ said Meyer. ‘I’m coaching my team and taking care of my family.'”
November 30, 2004 : Meyer to The Deseret News – “[When asked about Florida:] No. I have no real comment. All I keep saying is I plan on being the coach here at Utah.”
December 2, 2004 : Meyer to The Deseret News – “It’s not about prestige and it’s certainly not about money. In today’s climate, you don’t have time to build a program. Too many coaches are let go before they can build a program.”
“I’m going to a place where I think we can really win, because no good can come of losing. Losing is never good.”
December 3, 2004: Meyer to The Deseret News – “I’m the head coach at Utah. If for some reason I’m not, I still anticipate coaching in the bowl game.”
Urban Meyer accepts the head coaching position at Florida on December 3, 2004.
December 4, 2004: Meyer to ESPN SportsCenter – “This was a family decision. University of Florida has been in the mix since the day, uh [pause] after our rival game. … There was no intention to hurt a great university [Notre Dame], including this university [Utah the afterthought].”
December 4, 2004 : Urban Meyer Press Conference – “Recruiting at Utah doesn’t start ’till January. That’s when these kids that wanted to go to USC and UCLA find out they won’t be and then the Utes get them.”
December 4, 2004 : Meyer to KUTV News – “I didn’t want to put Utah into disarray. I had to do this now to protect Utah.”
December 4, 2004 : Meyer to GatorZone.com – “I am certainly excited about the opportunity to be the head coach at the University of Florida. There were a lot of factors that went into this decision that our entire family had to consider. The opportunity to compete at the highest level at one of the nation’s most-respected academic institutions is something that was attractive for us.”
“The quality of recruits within the state of Florida and the Southeast Region offers a tremendous recruiting base for us.”
“There’s no such thing as luck, there’s a big word called investment. If there was luck, why work as hard as we do. I’ve never been involved in a game where the most invested team lost.”
December 7, 2004 : Meyer to ESPN – “[Referring to Florida:] This is a place you can put your feet down hopefully for a long time.”
“I have no aspirations to coach in the NFL None whatsoever. It’s all about the pageantry and tradition of college football, which in my opinion is second to none.”
December 8, 2004: Meyer to Gatorzone.com – “This is a place you can put your feet down for a long time. It’s over [moving every 2 years]. I’m not doing this again.”
December 13, 2004: Toledo Blade – “In the words of any Bowling Green football player today: ‘I thought we were your family.’ Bowling Green’s players are understandably angry at Meyer for leaving. Every day he would preach team loyalty. Meyer carried his we-are-family concept to the extreme, even bunking in the same dorm with the Falcons during preseason workouts.”
December 17, 2008: SunSentinel – “Our staff has given our life to Florida football for four years,” Meyer said. “We plan on giving our life to Florida football for a long, long time.
“We start hearing, ‘Oh coach, I thought you said that was your dream job.’ I grew up in the North, and that was my dream job. Probably always will. That has nothing to do with this … This is my job. I hope to be here for a long, long time. I hear that out there, and it’s my fault.”
Meyer said Florida is everything he wants in a job.
“This is the best job in America,” Meyer said. “You don’t give your life to a school like our whole staff has. We plan on doing this for a long time.”
On October 1, 2009, Urban Meyer signs a contract extension with the University of Florida through 2014.
December 26, 2009: Urban Meyer announces he will resign following the Sugar Bowl appearance by the Gators on New Year’s Day, citing health concerns and the desire to spend more time with his family.
December 27, 2009: Meyer to the New York Times:
December 27, 2009: Urban Meyer announces it will only be a leave of absence.
March 17, 2010: Urban Meyer ends his leave of absence and returns as Florida’s head coach.
December 8, 2010: For the second year in a row, Urban Meyer announces he will retire at the end of the season for the same reasons he previously claimed (health and family concerns).
His family was certainly happy:
January 31, 2011: Urban Meyer takes a new job as an ESPN analyst, less than a month after coaching his final game at Florida in the 2011 Outback Bowl against Penn State University where his team came from behind in the 4th quarter to win.
Not sure how the family felt about that:
November 22, 2011: Despite numerous reports of Urban Meyer reaching a deal with Ohio State, Meyer tells ESPN “I have not been offered any job.”
Surely he was at least honest with his family:
November 28, 2011: WBNS Columbus confirms Urban Meyer has accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State and is introduced as such later that evening.
Are blatant lies to players and fans acceptable behavior for someone we expect to set an example for young athletes? Is it something we should expect from someone who tells parents he will treat their child like a son? We hope he was at least honest with his family, but he doesn’t have a great record so far.
Are these the “right values” he’s teaching by his actions, Stephen A. Smith was referring to?
Is this what Gary Anderson had in mind when he said rings and championships aren’t what he puts on a pedestal, but “it’s the kids and his family” which are?
Is that what Tim Tebow meant by “his legacy with the players that he has coached and the relationships” as being what is really important to him? Surely given his reputation, Tim Tebow would be nothing but honest, so it is leaves some curious why his words are not adding up with Meyer’s actions.
Maybe this is just an accepted business practice among the coaching ranks. Have yet to find another who has lied so much, with proof of it, but maybe there is.
This certainly does not fit Urban Meyer’s own requirement of what must be implemented into a the life of a player:
Maybe we should consider that and assume he never tells lies directly to his players and recruits. So let’s take a look at what he tells some recruits.
To the recruits:
Here are some examples from highly rated recruits from four different classes. One who committed to Urban Meyer’s Florida team, one who committed before changing his mind, a couple who were told to hide their commitments and one who committed to Florida, then flipped to Florida State before flipping back to Florida again. Hard to believe, but there is no shortage of interesting stories during Meyer’s time in Gainesville.
The first was Nyan Boateng who was in Urban Meyer’s 2005 recruiting class. Boateng, born in Ghana and speaks three languages, was one of the highest rated recruits of the class as a wide receiver and a two-sport star from a family of athletes. His older brother played college basketball, had three cousins compete in the FIFA World Cup and Nyan himself later played for the NY Giants.
The star recruit, who moved to the US at the age of eight and played high school ball in Brooklyn, New York, later transferred from Florida after playing very little. After transferring, Boateng claimed his lack of playing time was in part because of him wanting to play play basketball at Florida like Urban Meyer promised he could as a recruit.
According to ESPN’s Ted Miller’s 2008 article after Boateng transferred to the University of California after the 2006 season:
Boateng signed with the Gators with the intention of also playing basketball. He claims Meyer, after signing off on the idea during recruiting, tried to discourage his hoop dreams and penalized him on the depth chart for persisting.
“When my whole family is told I can play basketball and it won’t jeopardize my football status, I expected nothing other than that,” Boateng said. “It was completely different in reality when I got on campus.”
This is a pretty direct statement making it obvious Urban Meyer was less than honest with Boateng and his family during his recruitment. We are just talking about Meyer’s dishonesty right now, but we will discuss Boateng more later.
The next recruit we will review comes from the following recruiting class in 2006. One of the top quarterbacks in the nation was Jevan Snead from Stephenville, Texas. Snead was one of the highest rated quarterback recruits in the country and originally committed to play for Meryer’s Gators his junior year of high school.
After Snead made his verbal pledge to Meyer, he called Meyer one day to ask about his recruitment of Tim Tebow, who we all know was also a highly regarded prospect, after Snead saw Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen at one of Tebow’s games on TV during an Outside the Lines episode.
That is a pretty brazen story to come up with considering Tebow was even more highly regarded as a recruit than Snead, being #1 at his position opposed to where Snead resided at #3, not to mention it was the highest ranking member of the offensive coaching staff for Florida at the game and not a defensive coach.
As we know, Snead then turned down Meyer’s invitation to join him in Gainesville after being caught in an obvious lie and elected to go another route instead. Once Snead made it to Ole Miss, the rivalry between the former Florida recruits continued when they faced off on the field.
The next two former recruits, one in the class of 2007 and the other 2008, were told not to let anyone know they were siding with Florida. At the time of their recruitment by Urban Meyer, both were verbally committed to Notre Dame. We will even ignore the NCAA Secondary Violations involved in these cases by negative recruiting against Notre Dame, but will focus on the lack of honesty, both to the recruits and asked of them.
The first was a highly ranked defensive end from New Jersey named Justin Trattou. Urban Meyer went as far as saying Notre Dame’s defense was not a good fit for him if he had NFL hopes, something only a young impressionable athlete may believe. Trattou ended up shunning Notre Dame to spend his college career in Gainesville.
The next was considered by some to be the top ranked defensive tackle recruit in the country in 2008. Buford, GA’s Omar Hunter garnered a five star rating by pretty much every recruiting service. While committed to Notre Dame, he was told to lie to the point even his father was not expecting his flip to Florida.
Florida assistance coach Greg Mattison, who now coaches at the University of Michigan, was instrumental in recruiting both prospects. Meyer and Mattison were “relentless” and told Hunter that Mattison was continuing to coach in Gainesville while Notre Dame coach Bill Lewis tried enlightening Hunter to the truth about Mattison taking a job at the NFL level.
Hunter disregarded what Lewis was trying to warn him about and switched his commitment to Florida. Soon after National Signing Day, Mattison left to take the defensive coordinator job with the Baltimore Ravens which had been in the works for weeks just as Lewis warned.
Some say Mattison and Meyer were, both who formerly coached at Notre Dame, got the recruits to act the way they did to spite Notre Dame for personal reasons.
The next former recruit we will examine was one of the most elite prospects in the entire country. Most claimed he could have played any skill position on either side of the ball, he was just that good. We are of course talking about Palm Beach Gardens, FL native and current Baltimore Ravens safety, Matt Elam.
Elam committed to play for Florida on October 8, 2008. He remained committed to them for over a year before flipping to Florida’s in-state rival Florida State on New Years Eve, December 31, 2009, a few days after Urban Meyer announced he would be leaving Florida. Soon after, pictures emerged of Elam in Florida State attire:
Six days later on January 6, 2010, Elam says he talked to Urban Meyer. He states:
“I talked to Urban last night. We were talking about our relationship basically and he told me to have trust, to have trust in him and he asked me a word that really touched me. He said, ‘Do you know what faith means?’ and he told me the definition. It really touched me a lot. It really touched me so my decision might change.”
Three days later on January 9, 2010, he flips once again from Florida State, back to Florida. This was part of Urban Meyer’s last recruiting class at Florida.
When asked about the pictures he took in FSU gear, he said, “I start getting sick to my stomach [when looking at them].”
His talk with Meyer obviously didn’t teach him how to handle flipping schools with class based on that statement. To feel so bad about it, certainly is strange he took the photos so soon after the flip to begin with. Some even believe Meyer put him up to it to play recruiting games with his rival, but that is just a rumor.
As we know, Meyer did not hold true to his word and remain with Florida much longer. Maybe he gave Elam a different definition of “faith” than we know.
Every single recruiting class during his time in Gainesville it seems you can find some juicy stories of dishonesty. It has to catch up to you at some point. How can recruits, parents and high school coaches continue to believe him? How can a team and program continue to thrive very long with so many lies?
Maybe this is why Meyer has never stayed in one location very long. Maybe this is why fans say he will never last long at any one program because it is a recipe for winning quickly, but can not withstand long-term.
With so many lies to players, fans, recruits, possibly family and is anyone’s guess who else for so many years and so well documented, we believe his “Urban Liar” nickname is well deserved and very much earned by Meyer.
Maybe after all those lies, he at least had a positive impact on their lives in the program and once they left. Well, let’s take a look at how his players managed during and after their time with Meyer in Gainesville.
With the Players:
We will just stick with those few stories of all the lies to recruits rather than cover all them and also jump over going into detail of all the recruiting violations by Meyer, like recruiting during dead periods, allowing Tebow to call high profile recruit Carl Moore, recruiting Moore’s girlfriend Miranda Smith for the gymnastics team to better his chances with the star wide receiver (both went to Florida), somehow getting recruits academically qualified who seemingly had no chance, the endless negative recruiting, coverups, attempting to sabotage admissions and eligibility of recruits who do not commit to him and who knows what else we may find if we dig long enough, and just stick to the more serious actions by his players as a reflection of Meyer and the environment he maintained in Gainesville.
When Urban Meyer arrived in Gainesville, he boasted about recruiting the “top 1 percent academics, top one percent of people, the top one percent of one percent.” We will take a look at exactly how that “top 1% of 1%” turned out.
Before the 1% of 1% even made it to campus:
Percy Harvin – Suspended twice for unsportsmanlike conduct, language and contact with an official. Banished from Virginia high school sports in the spring of his senior year for a fight during a basketball game. Also reportedly hit a teacher and involved in other off-the-field incidents.
Riley Cooper – Was part of the same recruiting class with fellow wide receiver Percy Harvin. Was limited in part of his high school career due to grades. He was a potential baseball first round draft pick and then decided it was a good idea to put his hand through a car window, cutting up his throwing arm requiring plastic surgery.
Chris Rainey – The following recruiting class in 2007 included star runningback Chris Rainey. Rainey was put under investigation for violating the FHSAA rules of amateurism. On tape, Rainey stated to the Miami Herald:
“I didn’t even count it. When I walk around, people are buying me food, giving me money. I’m like, damn, I’m glad I’m Chris Rainey. It’s real nice to be me.”
The Herald also reported statements by Rainey involving receiving sports jerseys and jewelry in exchange for an autograph by a local Lakeland clothing vendor. This violates FHSAA bylaw 11.9.1 stating:
“a student may not participate in an athletic activity of the Association unless he/she is an amateur. A student who has accepted remuneration, gift or donation for participation in a sport is … thereafter disqualified for further participation in that sport in high school for a period of one year.”
All it took for Rainey to be cleared of any wrongdoing was to simply recant his statements according to FHSAA Commissioner John Stewart:
“The original statement made by the student-athlete would cause anyone to suspect that he violated the amateur rule, but once he recanted that statement, we could no longer take action based on that statement alone. We had to investigate the potential violation, as we would any other allegation, to see if a violation in fact did occur.”
It would seem Rainy’s enabled behavior began early. The Miami Herald stood by their story, claiming his statements were all on tape.
These are just a few of the recruits Meyer brought in who had issues before enrolling.
Found trouble under Meyer’s watch:
Why are we making sure to post details about each incident? It is because we feel something is lost on the readers when they just see a number in reports about Meyer. Too many times we feel the number of arrests have been published and readers just skim over the number and it begins to mean nothing to them more than a “same stuff that happens everywhere” attitude when it far exceeds the norm. Having to actually see the faces, indiscretions and all the details surrounding the incidents in addition to the overwhelming quantity, we feel readers can gain a new appreciation for just how many there were and how bad some of it was.
July 2005 – Arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery and theft.
Charges were dropped when victim did not want to prosecute.
October 2005 – Misdemeanor violation of city ordinance and disorderly conduct for his involvement in a fight.
Completed a deferred prosecution program including 7.5 hours of community service. Was suspended and transferred to Georgia Southern.
November 2005 – Charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief after punching a window at an off-campus store.
February 2006 – With teammates Reggie Lewis, Andre Caldwell and former player Dee Webb, Tookes was investigated for firing one of Webb’s rifles into an occupied apartment complex.
No charges were ever filed in the case and he later admitted to the shooting.
November 2006 – Was charged with knowingly driving with a suspended license. No action was taken and he was allowed to play the final four games of the season, including the national championship game.
March 2006 – Cited for unlawful operation of sound making devices. No charges filed or punishment handed out.
May 2006 – Arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
Charges were dropped and Murphy had to perform 12.5 hours of community service, donate $125 to “Project Payback” and was suspended for three football games.
June 17, 2006 – One of Meyer’s first recruits and centerpiece of the 2005 recruiting class was arrested and charged with felony false imprisonment and domestic battery of Benarah Sanford, the mother of his child, after he holding her in a car against her will and punching her repeatedly (reportedly up to 13 times). Sanford sustained swelling and small lacerations to her face and upper arm requiring treatment.
July 2006 – Another domestic battery charge involving Sanford.
Atkins received pre-trial intervention including a 26-week program and cases were dropped. Meyer suspended Atkins who then asked for his release from his scholarship at Florida. After initially denying the request when he said he wanted to attend Florida State, it was granted and Atkins transferred to Bethune-Cookman.
May 1, 2007 – Charged with felony aggravated assault after threatening a friend of his former girlfriend with a gun.
June 2007 – Charged with possession of marijuana after he was stopped for having windows tinted too darkly. Upon the search a digital scale was seized and he was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon when a .40 caliber handgun which was found in the center console. The gun had been reported stolen months earlier.
July 2007 – Arrested in Ormond Beach and charged with possessing crack cocaine. A digital scale was once again seized.
July 5, 2007 – Atkins was tragically found dead in his car of a drug overdose after ingesting too much Ecstasy.
Jon Demps -Scout.com
September 2006 – Charged with misdemeanor driving with a suspended license.
Charges were dropped and received 6 months probation.
January 2007 – Charged with first degree misdemeanor battery. Charges were dropped when the victim did not prosecute. Was suspended indefinitely from the team.
Failed multiple drug tests at Florida. Received suspensions and was finally dismissed after failing to attend a drug-education class.
November 2006 – Suspended from the team after getting stabbed in the leg with a knife during an altercation with his girlfriend. Both parties declined pressing aggravated assault charges.
Meyer instructed other players not to associate with Boateng. Speaking on Meyer’s actions, Boateng stated, “That pretty much drove a stake through my heart.” Boateng then transferred to the University of California.
February 2007 – Arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Pleaded no contest, put on probation and ordered community service. Was suspended for one game.
November 4, 2008 – Arrested for felony domestic battery by strangulation and felony obstruction of justice after an altercation with his girlfriend. Rickerson was dismissed from the team.
Darryl Gresham Jr.:
February 2007 – Caught with marijuana. No known punishment.
May 2007 – Arrested for misdemeanor violation of his probation after failing to serve his five hours of community service after receiving an alcohol citation. Complied and served out his probation and case was dismissed. Was never officially suspended although he was out due to an injury.
Curtis tragically committed suicide by jumping in 2010.
May 30, 2007 – Munroe was arrested and faced felony theft when he removed a metal boot from his car tire placed there by police and put it in his trunk. The boot was valued at $385.
All charges were dropped and there was no team punishment for Monroe.
June 12, 2007 – Arrested for felony purchasing of marijuana and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. James purchased the marijuana with Florida basketball player Brandon Powell from a police informant during a reverse sting.
The felony charge was dropped and James was sentenced to probation and community service from the possession charge. James was also suspended for one game, against Western Kentucky.
April 2007 – Cited for misdemeanor property damage and criminal mischief for throwing a man onto the hood of a car during a fight. The damage to the car totaled $750. Hornsby received deferred prosecution and charges were dismissed. Received no punishment from Urban Meyer.
Later served a five game suspension for selling his complimentary tickets, a violation of NCAA rules.
May 2008 – Arrested for making more than 70 fraudulent charges on a gas station credit card taken from a female student and girlfriend of a teammate who had died months earlier in October of 2007 in an auto accident. The charges were for over $3,000.
Hornsby was represented by Huntley Johnson and was dismissed from the team.
April 2007 – Arrested and charged with misdemeanor affray and resisting arrest for his role in a fight. All charges were dropped.
August 2007 – Had to appear in court for unpaid parking tickets. No team punishment.
February – June 2009 – Received tickets for unknowingly driving with a suspended license.
June 29, 2009 – Charged with knowingly driving with a suspended license, a second degree misdemeanor. According to the University Police Department, Doe was arrested earlier that day and then later that night for the same charge of knowingly driving on a suspended license.
Doe was originally suspended indefinitely, but was allowed to return to the team to play his senior season.
Doe was represented by Huntley Johnson and was sentenced to 6 months compliance probation, fined $311 and required to complete eight hours of community service.
In January 2010, Doe was arrested after he failed to complete his required community service stemming from his earlier arrests. The arrest warrant was handed down four days after his final game as a Gator in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 5, 2010.
April 5, 2007 – Arrested for aggravated assault and battery after he punched and spat on victim Francis Fuller outside of a Gainesville night club. When Fuller followed Wilson while calling 911 to report him, Wilson stopped, got out of his car, took out an AK-47 semiautomatic assault rifle from of his trunk and fired it into the air leading to charges of illegal use of a concealed weapon during the commission of a felony.
Wilson pleaded no contest to all charges and all were reduced to misdemeanors and later dropped. Wilson was placed on two years probation, given 100 hours of community service and required to undergo a mental health evaluation.
January 2008 – Wilson was arrested for possession of marijuana found in his car. The State Attorney’s Office claims they conveniently did not notice he was on probation so he was not jailed for the probation violation. The SAO claimed possession charges were difficult to prove and dismissed the charges. Wilson was allowed to return to the team once his community service hours from the first offense had been completed.
October 2008 – Arrested a third time with misdemeanor battery and assault charges after he struck two victims at a birthday party just hours after the team returned from a playing a game against Arkansas. One female victim suffered a broken wrist.
Huntley Johnson claimed the charges were dismissed, but Wilson was still dismissed from the team finally.
July 2007 – Charged with criminal mischief after blowing up a dorm toilet with an M-80 firecracker.
October 2, 2007 – Arrested and charged with felony theft after he broke into a fenced impound to try and retrieve his girlfriends car which had been towed rather than paying the $76 bill.
Chargers were dropped and Joiner did not miss any time with the team.
December 5, 2007 – Arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery along with Jon Demps after an argument with a clerk at a local Jimmy John’s restaurant when he was asked to pay for a bag of chips. Cunningham began verbally abusing the clerk and striking him with empty soda cans and a sandwich before fleeing.
By December 20, State Attorney Bill Cervone dropped the charges. Cunningham did not miss any time with the team. Meyer claimed to impose a physical punishment.
January 19, 2008 – Cited for underage drinking, a misdemeanor. No known punishment.
March 26, 2009 – Was arrested and not allowed to return to the team after he violated his probation by driving with a suspended license several times.
November 21, 2008 – Charged with felony counts of burglary, larceny and obstruction of justice after stealing a laptop from a Florida student worth $1,700. When police responded to his dorm, they found the laptop sitting on his desk. When Newton asked for privacy to speak with attorney Huntley Johnson, police found the laptop was no longer there after they returned to his room. Newton had thrown the laptop out of his window and the police found it behind a dumpster.
One has to wonder how Newton was able to contact Huntley Johnson so quickly and what Johnson advised him of if Newton tried hiding the evidence during that time.
Newton received pre-trial deferment and served community service and probation time, then charges were dropped. Meyer suspended him for what little time was left in the 2008 season.
Many believe he was dismissed from the program after this incident, but that is not true. After being caught cheating three times at the University of Florida, Newton was set to face Florida’s Student Conduct Committee during the spring of 2009. Before the hearing took place, Newton transferred to Blinn College on his own.
During his second round of recruitment from Blinn College to an FBS school, his father sought $200,000 for his son’s services. He committed to Auburn and was briefly ruled ineligible by the NCAA once they found out about his recruitment, but was reinstated and did not miss a game after he denied any knowledge of his father’s actions.
February 16, 2009 – Arrested for misdemeanor violation of a sexual restraining order after following an ex-girlfriend off a bus. The woman had a restraining order against Johnson after she claimed he date-raped her multiple times between September and November of 2008.
Huntley Johnson was able to get all charges dropped due to lack of evidence. Johnson did not miss any time with the team.
April 24, 2009 – Arrested for second degree felony for burglary of an occupied dwelling unarmed and first degree misdemeanor battery. Hannah allegedly pushed his way into an apartment, yelling at two females and hitting another man in the face.
Attorney Huntley Johnson was able to get the case dismissed due to lack of evidence. Hannah, a walk-on, was subsequently dismissed from the team.
May 30, 2009 – Arrested for fighting outside of a downtown Gainesville night club. Jenkins was charged with misdemeanor affray and resisting arrest without violence although he was tasered.
Jenkins had the help of attorney Huntley Johnson and State Attorney Bill Cervone decided drop the charges. Jenkins did not miss any football games.
In 2011, after Meyer departed, he was arrested two more times with drug related charges within a month of each other. The first he was only required to pay fines and the last, Will Muschamp dismissed him from the team.
December 1, 2009 – Arrested and charged with a second degree misdemeanor of DUI after drinking underage and being found asleep at the wheel at an intersection at 3:25am.
Dunlap accepted six months of probation and 50 hours of community service. Urban Meyer suspended him for the SEC Championship game, but he was back by the Sugar Bowl that season.
February 15, 2010 – Gary Brown became the third player within a month to be arrested when he was charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery after slapping both females and scratching one of them after they asked him to leave a party. Brown was dismissed from the team.
Frankie Hammond Jr:
June 13, 2010 – Arrested for DUI after he was seen speeding and swerving. Was found with open bottles of Crown Royal whiskey in his vehicle and failed a sobriety test. Hammond was underage at the time and registered a BAC of .188, more than twice the legal limit to drive.
On August 31, 2010 Hammond was cited for driving a moped illegal with no headgear and license being suspended.
Huntley Johnson was also on the case for Hammond and he received 12 months of probation and 20 work-crew days and sit in on a victim-impact panel. He did not play the beginning of the season against Miami of Ohio and USF, but did return in time to play the first SEC game on the road against Tennessee and was forced to pay his own tuition for awhile.
February 2009 – Misdemeanor charges of resisting an officer and failure to comply with the fire department. Campus police cited Cooper for not getting out of the way of a moving car upon police orders according to his attorney Huntley Johnson.
The case was dismissed and no action was taken against him by Urban Meyer.
July 2, 2010 – Charged with first degree misdemeanor for underage drinking. Elam pleaded no contest, paid a fine and was not suspended for any football games.
August 1, 2010 – Charged with second degree misdemeanor for possessing alcohol underage and trying to pass it off. Was not disciplined. Patton was part of Meyer’s last recruiting class.
September 14, 2010 – Chris Rainey was arrested and charged with felony aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony battery charge under Florida statute carrying with it a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine plus court costs.
According to the police report, Rainey contacted a local woman he had been dating sporadically for approximately three years and allegedly visited her home when she did not answer a phone call. When she did not come to the door immediately, Rainey began calling and texting her, eventually allegedly saying, “I’m here and I will bust out the window.”
After speaking to him for about 10 minutes, she asked him to leave, later receiving a text message from Rainey which read, “Time to die, b—h.”
Fearing for her sibling’s safety, the woman’s sister called the police, who instructed her to call Rainey to tell him that the officers wished to speak with him. Upon receiving that call, Rainey allegedly told the woman, “Wait and see what happens when they leave.”
He was subsequently arrested when officers visited his on-campus residence.
Remember, these are just some of the incidents we know about. We also know there were others which were covered up based on player statements.
There was also an incident where a star running back pulled a shotgun out in front of his dorm room and fired it at the door with two other athletes on the other side shielding themselves, barely being missed. The incident was never reported and the unknown perpetrator never identified beyond “star running back”.
There were others as well, one involving a keg fight (not the Charles incident), bar fight and car shooting which never developed. Issues with Aaron Hernandez were never reported until digging was done after he was charged with murder.
You could really field a heck of a team with that group above and even have some depth. That is pretty bad.
This averages out to one arrest for ever 2 wins or less during Meyer’s time coaching Florida. Averages out to about 5 arrests per year under his watch each year he coached. Considering he signed 138 players during his tenure, an average of 23 per class (assuming every single player made it to campus, which they did not), that would be equivalent to about 22% of each class being arrested at some point during their college career.
Trouble after their time with Meyer:
Percy Harvin – During his time at Florida, he was never arrested, yet failed multiple drug tests being positive for marijuana. He also refused to run stadium steps with his teammates and never punished for it and allegedly attacked and chocked out coach Billy Gonzales. Reportedly, none of this ever received any punishment and most had been, at least tried to be, covered up for. Chris Rainey even admitted players and coaches were scared of Harvin. At most, Harvin sat out a game or two against cupcake teams under the reports of an ankle injury.
His troubles with drugs and fighting did not stop after his time with Florida. Harvin tested positive for marijuana in 2009 at the scouting combine. Obviously he did not just start smoking then or thought it may help with his professional goals and performance for scouts. Harvin gave teammate Golden Tate a black eye before the Super Bowl in an altercation and then was involved in a preseason fight with wide receiver Doug Baldwin, giving Baldwin a cut on his chin. Harvin was also involved in a scuffle with Russell Wilson while in Seattle. With the Vikings, Harvin had been in at least two disputes with Brad Childress, one altercation requiring teammates to separate the two and the other ended with Harvin throwing weights at the coach leaving holes in the wall.
It does not seem like Meyer had much of a positive influence on him during his days in Gainesville. One can only wonder what else in store for the troubled athlete.
Riley Cooper – Fined by the Eagles in 2013 for a threat and racial slur at a concert.
Not a great way to represent the school you come from with their own issues with racism.
Chris Rainey – Seems like he did not learn his lesson while at Florida either. On January 10, 2013 he was charged with simple battery against his girlfriend leading to the Steelers waiving him. Rainey was witnessed to have pulled the girl from the passenger side of the car and slap her.
Brandon Spikes – Spikes was never arrested at Florida that we know of, but was considered by most to be a dirty player on the field. He was suspended for a half in 2009 after trying to gauge out the eyes of a ball carrier for the University of Georgia.
Most agreed it was too light of a suspension for the act. This kind of lack of discipline did not help him down the road. He has been fined in the NFL many times for his dirty play and suspended for his drug use.
One would assume Meyer would be aware of the issue and due a better job of addressing it while he was in college due to the fact he was helped raised by his older brother who he looked up to and would roam the streets with while he dealt in drugs and is now in prison for murder. Not exactly a Stepford background.
Oh, and he was classy enough to give us a sex tape.
Spikes also lashed out at Ray Rice in 2014 for the incident involving Rice striking his then-fiancee. Spikes tweeted: “Someone should choke him out. See how he likes it.”
He can have his opinion, but I do not recall him having much to say when Chris Rainey had his incident with females both in college and professionally, or any other former teammate for that matter who found trouble.
Jacques Rickerson – In May of 2010, he was arrested once again for cyberstalking and domestic battery by strangulation, a third degree felony. This was his second arrested for strangulation in less than two years.
Jamar Hornsby – Charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor petit larceny after he allegedly assaulted a man in March of 2009 in a McDonald’s drive-thru. Hornsby was still on probation after his legal troubles in Gainesville. He was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay $2,563 in fines and restitution. He began his jail sentence in 2011.
Jermaine Cunningham – On December 29, 2014 Cunningham was arrested and charged with third degree invasion of privacy under a state law prohibiting the disclosure of sexual images of a person without their consent. He was also charged with criminal mischief after destroying clothing. He was also charged with fourth degree unlawful possession with a firearm when a loaded .380 handgun was found in his car.
Jon Demps – Arrested with former teammate Jermaine Cunningham after an altercation with an employee at Jimmy John’s restaurant.
Ronnie Wilson – Arrested in February of 2013 and charged with displaying a firearm during the commission of a felony and multiple drug charges including oxycodone trafficking and marijuana and cocaine possession. Wilson was also driving with a suspended license with no car registration or insurance.
Avery Atkins – We went into detail above about his involvement with drugs and finally overdosing after his time in Gainesville.
John Curtis – Committed suicide in 2010 by jumping.
Janoris Jenkins – Had multiple drug incidents while still at Florida after Meyer left. Was dismissed by Will Muschamp.
Louis Murphy – Arrested in 2011 and charged with misdemeanor possession of a drug without a valid prescription, failure to obey a police officer and resisting arrest without violence. The officer found pills of Viagra upon searching Murphy’s car.
Darryl Gresham Jr. – In 2007 was charged with first degree misdemeanor animal abandonment.
Jarvis Moss – Allegedly failed many drug tests while playing for Florida, but was never punished for them outside of allegedly missing a game against FCS Western Carolina. Moss actually returned to school in Gainesville after playing in the NFL where he was caught possessing and chewing marijuana when stopped by police.
Marcus Thomas – Arrested in 2008 for possession of cocaine while playing for the Denver Broncos. Prosecutors never pursued charges and the case was dropped.
Deonte Thompson – In February of 2014, Thompson faced felony and misdemeanor drug charges after being arrested in Gainesville. Thompson was defended by Huntley Johnson and had all charges against him dismissed due to lack of evidence, while the driver of the car plead guilty.
This is the young man Meyer defended at practice when he verbally attacked a reporter and talked about how good the “kid” was.
Nyan Boateng – In July 2007, when returning to Gainesville to finalize his divorce, Boateng got into an argument with another girlfriend with whom he was staying. When she denied him entry, he kicked in the door. Boateng was arrested and charged with burglary, battery and criminal mischief. All charges were eventually dropped.
In January of 2011, Boateng was cut by the New York Giants after he was caught roughing up an ex-girlfriend outside of a Manhattan nightclub. Reports indicated he choked and scratched the woman and she had bruises on her face, neck and mouth. He was charged with misdemeanor third degree assault.
Boateng spent the first eight years of his life in Ghana, a country known to have gender equality issues. Perhaps had Urban Meyer not turned his back on Boateng after his first incident with a female, and had his teammates do so as well, it might have been able prevent two more violent incidents toward females.
Will Hill – Suspended three times in three years for drug use including being suspended for the first six games of the 2014 seasons before the Giants cut him. He went undrafted coming out of Florida due to character concerns.
An arrest warrant was issued for his arrest after owing more than $16,500 in child support.
He was arrested for a similar charge in 2013.
Noticing his character issues while at Florida would not have been hard had you just followed him on Twitter. Perhaps if Meyer had addressed some of those character issues back then, Hill would nt continue to find trouble off the field.
Aaron Hernandez – We obviously can not have a section about players who found trouble after their time at Florida without mentioning Aaron Hernandez, especially since his murder trial just started. Along with Ronnie Wilson, this is one of the scarier stories of a former UF player. It is scary for the crimes he is alleged to have committed, but just as scary to think about the lengths Urban Meyer is willing to go to in covering up for a star player.
Meyer denies he saw anything with Hernandez at UF which would allow him to see the events coming. Should we believe him?
Hernandez allegedly failed multiple drug tests while at Florida, punched a bouncer at a bar rupturing his eardrum and was described in a detailed physical report by a witness, along with former Florida player Reggie Nelson, in a car shooting which left two injured. One of which still has issues to this day after being shot in the head. The witness did not know Hernandez’s name, but knew he was on the football team and described him very accurately, yet no charges were pursued against Hernandez and the investigation was pretty much halted after he wanted an attorney.
Perhaps if Meyer had addressed some of the issues with Hernandez while in Gainesville, he might not be facing convictions of multiple murders. Rolling Stone even claimed Meyer may have helped cover up for Hernandez.
There are probably other former players who we missed. It is sad to see he could not have had a better influence on so many which may have impacted them today in a positive way. Some, like Percy Harvin, Chris Rainey, Brandon Spikes, Riley Cooper and others, found trouble at each level of play from; high school, college and to the NFL.
Going through all the charges, you can see Meyer’s list of core values in his playbook were not followed very well. Every school will likely have issues with drugs and occasional stealing, but players in Gainesville and after leaving, we saw it all. A lot of violence against women, multiple rape accusations, multiple cyberstalking, fraud, multiple use of guns, two suicides, murder and more.
Is it really surprising so many players found trouble before and after their time at Florida? Is it surprising Meyer could not help them with their anger issues or impulse to get physical with others? This is the guy who was influencing these athletes:
He was attacking reporter Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel for just quoting a player. You know, doing his job. The player was Deonte Thompson. All Thompson did was call Florida quarterback John Brantley a “real quarterback” when compared to Tim Tebow.
“You never know with Tim. You can bolt, you think he’s running, but he’ll come up and pass it to you. You just have to be ready at all times. With Brantley, everything’s with rhythm, time. You know what I mean, a real quarterback.”
Seemed simple and harmless, but Meyer took exception to the report and the video shows the result. Not exactly the professional or classy example one would expect of a coach.
Does it help when Urban Meyer shows favoritism to certain players just because they are good and allows them to get away with nearly anything? Chris Rainey even discusses how some players were simply scary and could do whatever they want:
Listening to him, you really get a sense of the culture around the football program while Meyer was there. Even admitting to things being covered up.
Who is to blame?
Meyer or Gainesville?
Is this all on Urban Meyer’s shoulders? Or is there perhaps a systemic problem in Gainesville and at the University of Florida? During our piece on former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, we reviewed an article showing the potential coverups for the Florida athletic programs and how the media seems to ignore it. You may have noticed Huntley Johnson’s name mentioned with quite a number of cases. This has drawn the attention of some and even questions of ethics with his practice representing so many players.
Urban Meyer did not seem to have a terrible reputation of running a dirty program before arriving in Gainesville, only after. This makes one wonder if it wasn’t more of a result of the culture at Florida. Looking back, it does seem any era in the Florida football program where any amount of success is found, always comes with controversy. All this with Meyer as we have shown, the Tank Black era under Steve Spurrier and all the violations in the 1980’s under Charley Pell.
Perhaps one can conclude it was the worst possible combination having a “win at all cost” type of coach like Urban Meyer in a place like Gainesville who have been known to accept and enable such a coach, which evolved into what we saw during his time there.
At Ohio State now, he makes a lot of the same statements we’ve heard before:
“I treat those players like they’re my own children,” Meyer said. “We have high expectations for them. If one of your children has an issue, you try to educate, correct, discipline, and push them in the right direction as hard as you possibly can. When I see some of the situations where some of these players are from, for me to walk away from that player has always been very, very difficult to do. That’s where we’re at.”
Has it been any different since he arrived in Columbus?
Well, instead of averaging five arrests a year, he’s down to about four, so that’s an improvement. Although he is already taking heat from some reporters about his discipline in Columbus.
How much is the media to blame for the Florida program getting so out of control? Local media members never pushed too hard or asked the right questions in Gainesville. They were too scared to. We showed what happened when you made a player look bad. Maybe that was just because Meyer really did not like what was quoted about his beloved Tim Tebow. Even Mike Bianchi, who has dug into Meyer on occasion, usually softballed Meyer while he was in Gainesville and then went after him once he departed on more than one occasion.
Reporters only went after Meyer once he left Florida and it was too late. That seemed to be because they did not seem to appreciate the way he departed. Even now, after all the issues during Meyer’s time there, a local lawyer who represents nearly every player and can get them off of just about anything, a State Attorney in Bill Cervone who has been a booster, season ticket holder and on the Florida payroll for decades shows favoritism and even when the campus rape topic is hotter than ever in currently and the possible coverups for Aaron Hernandez, there has been no in-depth look is shown toward Florida.
Two other state universities are under federal investigation for their roles in campus sexual assault allegations, but neither is the University of Florida even though they had an incident similar to Jameis Winston with their own quarterback Treon Harris as well as multiple rape accusations against Carl Johnson, and nobody seems to care.
Perhaps other state schools, such as rival Florida State, should consider a journalism program to prevent so many reporters in the state and beyond, to be from UF and having a bit of a bias. ESPN will have dozens of people looking up records of autographs signed by Winston and send Mark Schlabach to Tallahassee for a week to dig as much as he could, and ESPN’s Outside the Lines filing requests on 300+ athletes over the past several years, yet even with all the potential (and even admitted by Rainey and former basketball players) corruption and coverups in Gainesville, nobody seems to want to really dig into the issue. One can only imagine what they would find there if they used the same microscope they have with Florida State over the past two years.
For Recruits and Parents
For all the troubled youths he takes in to play for him, is giving you a better chance at a championship while in school or better shot at the NFL, worth the shortcomings of his preparation for life off the field? Is his lack of discipline what any self respecting parent want as the coach of their child during their impressionable college years and without your supervision, especially the many with entitlement issues from the start originating from their athletic gifts?
With National Signing Day right around the corner, after seeing the true colors of a coach like Urban Meyer, most self-respecting parents and recruits would, or at least should, certainly hesitate and have reservations playing for a such a coach.
What is Urban Meyer’s legacy?
Who knows? Right now it does not look very good unless you only consider his accomplishments on the field. Tim Tebow said “His legacy is only going to improve” in the article we first referenced. That really isn’t a bad bet after all we looked at because I can’t imagine it getting much worse. Unless he is found to be funding terrorism, it has nowhere to go but up.
The good news for Meyer is, he still has time to turn his legacy around. He does not seem to be having as many issues at Ohio State, not yet at least, although he has seemed to allow his best players to return to the team (Hyde after striking a female) while others who don’t contribute as much are dismissed.
Perhaps he learned something during his turbulent time at the University of Florida. Maybe his time there can be used as a guide for other coaches as a good What Not To Do lesson. The scary thought is the amount of lies he has told, even before his time in Gainesville. One can only hope he has learned a lesson from being exposed already as a pathological liar and hopefully it is not a chronic issue continuing forward.
Nothing we have shown is really anything new. It has all been documented and reported, however when put all together in one place for all to see like this and you add it all up, the true story starts to unfold.
It would seem to most an unbelievable set of circumstances any recruit or parent would want to be involved with such a man, yet he continues to recruit very well somehow. It is almost like nobody cares and the national media doesn’t say a word either. Perhaps it is a problem with our society as much as it is with Urban Meyer.
We hope he can turn it all around and improve as a coach and a man. We hope he can with his reputation, discipline towards players, influence on them, his family life, his honesty, accountability and everything else included in his legacy as it defines him and affects others. We hope for this, not for the sake of coach Urban Meyer, but for the young athletes and other coaches who look up to him and are influenced by him as well as the bigger picture of improving the image of college football as a whole.
When you can literally type up a document totaling over 13,000 words categorizing lies like was just done here, something is wrong. After studying all of it and digging through it all, it can almost make one feel dirty.
Makes me feel a bit guilty for cheering for his Buckeyes team in the championship game.