Sep 16

Will He Stay or Will He Go?

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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Some people will call me crazy (wouldn't be the first time) for bringing this up, but there is going to be a discussion - starting now - that will only heat up as this season goes along. I have been thinking about this a lot, and after the Michigan defeat of Notre Dame, I will officially bring up this story (or non-story) for Fans25 discussion. And while I can honestly tell you readers that I thought of this well before I first heard it anywhere else (hand on heart), I have recently heard more discussion of this by credible sources. Urban Meyer and his future. Let's talk.
To get right to it, the idea behind this article is that Meyer will be in a situation at season's end to either be the next coach at Notre Dame, or not. It will be up to him. The facts are that Florida, an awesome program with a solid history, is currently the premier program in college football, but Notre Dame, perhaps the most storied program in the sport, is struggling under it's current head man.
This is no knock on Notre Dame, but they just aren't a BCS caliber football team, and that is what their loyal following demands. Charlie Weis is not going to get the Irish to the elite level in my opinion. On top of all that, he is a PR nightmare as he is easily the butt of many jokes due to his appearance and is just plain hard to listen to (again, in my opinion). I know that sounds terrible, but damnit people, it is the truth and we all know it. By the way, his teams aren't real good, either. ND and their history deserve better whether it be Meyer or some other coach. They will do what it takes to get back to the top - history has proven that time and again - it is just a matter of when and how.
And now we look at Florida and the Gators. Meyer arrived in Gainesville in 2005 fresh after leading Utah to a 12-0 season and Fiesta Bowl victory. Between Steve Spurrier's departure from Florida in 2001, and Meyer's arrival in 2005, UF struggled under Ron Zook. Enter Urban Meyer, and the Swamp has now hosted two national title ceremonies in three years. You cannot call that a coincidence. What you call that is Florida hiring a man who is hell-bent on perfection.
Florida is no slouch program from a national perspective. They have a pretty decent history of their own which now includes three national championships, eight SEC titles, and seventeen bowl wins. They also have three Heisman trophy winners in Spurrier, Danny Wuerfel and Tim Tebow. If Meyer were to remain, and UF win a couple of more crystal footballs, then suddenly they could join the ranks of the all-time great programs. They play in the nation's toughest conference, and they have one of the toughest places in America to play.
But Notre Dame is one of college football's legendary bigger-than-life programs. There are but a handful of these teams - six or eight maybe - and ND is one of them. They boast eleven national titles and seven Heisman winners, as well as fourteen bowl wins. Hell, movies are even made after Notre Dame football....
Maybe I am getting ahead of myself, but I see ND not going BCSing, and Weis getting canned. On top of that, I see the Gators reaching the SEC Championship game, and who knows what from there. The two teams will have contrasting seasons again, and this will thus heat up the talk on this matter.
So you may ask: why not Nick Saban or Pete Carroll? Because both of those men currently coach at programs that are at that same level as ND. Like I said, there aren't but a few schools like that, but Alabama and USC are. Those two guys will probably coach for a long time and then retire into glory from those schools. And there are other solid coaches roaming around, as well. But the fact of the matter - and we all know it - is that Urban Meyer would be the best realistic catch out there in the college football coaching profession.
Why he will stay at Florida. Meyer sits in the recruiting hotbed of this part of the country, plays in the SEC, and is suppported by a University that is rabid about football. Every bit of talent he could ever need is right in his backyard. Florida fans take their football as serious as any team out there, and they pack the Swamp to 92,000 fans each and every game as well as taking legions with them on the road. And as I mentioned above, Florida is just two or three national titles away from being at the level of the top programs in college football history. Meyer can get those national titles and go down as a God at UF.
The SEC is the program that other conferences are measured by right now, and Florida's national credibilty is never questioned as long as they win. At ND, not being in a conference often leads people to easily bash their out of conference position. Yes, the SEC slate is tough, but Meyer seems to be dealing with it fine so far. As we have seen three times now, you can lose a game in the SEC and still make the national title game.
Why he will go to Notre Dame. When Alabama went after Nick Saban with large briefcases of money (and who knows what else), I thought they were insane. The deal was like 30 million bucks over 5 years or something crazy. I seriously thought those folks down in the deep South had lost their crimson marbles. But after what I have seen from the Tide in the past two seasons, and what is ahead after these first three recruiting classes, I can see why Alabama did whatever it took to get him. It has paid off, and a once proud program that struggled for a stretch (lost 6 in a row to Auburn), is now a beast again and ready to challenge yearly for national titles. The BCS money justifies the coach's salary.
Notre Dame is ready to take that plunge too, and they need to. It only seems right that Notre Dame be back in the top five. I personally, do not care for Notre Dame all that much, but the fact is that they have historically proven - in each era - that they are among the best at what they do. Now, it is time to adjust to the modern way of college football for them, and nobody is better at coaching and being a CEO at the same time than Urban Meyer. The Irish need to do whatever it takes to land him.
I know as coaches' careers take different paths than they envisioned, things change. But it has been very well noted that early in his coaching career Meyer stated that he would like to be the head coach at Notre Dame one day (he already has coached there as wide recievers coach from 1996-2000). If that was a thought of his at one time, how would rescuing them from mediocrity and becoming 'the Man' in South Bend change that thought at all? Meyer is from Ohio, and while that is not exactly Indiana, he has no connection at all really to Florida or the South, either.
Florida is going to have a great season - we all know that. But whether or not they win it all or come up just short, Tim Tebow will be gone, and Tebow has been the heart of this run of success. Yes, Florida has recruited several mega-star replacements, but Tebow isn't really replacable.
The Contract. Meyer has a deal with Florida for 24 million dollars over the next six years via a contract extension he signed in March. Yes, that is a lot of money. But Notre Dame has the cash to buy that out and then pay him whatever he asks. In today's world of sports, no amount of money seems too large for winning. I think Notre Dame's boosters and university VIP's understand that the football program is a special part of who they are, and that they need to sign a coach that is the real thing.
Again, this is a lot of money, and is a minor issue. What adds to this large chunk of money is that they will also have to buy out the contract of current Coach Charlie Weis, who is just one of two coaches in the game right now to make more money than Meyer (Carroll is the other). Weis' deal in 2005 signed him 40 million dollars through 2015.

The contract prices could be a small issue, but like with Alabama, the ROI comes in the form of phat BCS paychecks.
What I think will happen. I think he will go for many reasons.
First, The SEC is the toughest conference to coach in week in and week out. Even though he can lose a game and still make the national title game, he could probabaly do that at ND, too (simply because of the media love), and play a lighter schedule overall. Yes, Notre Dame plays USC annually, but other than that the schedule is usually very managable. In the end, it is all about crystal footballs, and he can achieve those at Notre Dame just as easy - if not easier - than at Florida.
Second, he can be a God in South Bend and make bank while doing it. ND can almost certainly afford to buy out that contract, and then pay him what he asks. On top of that, if he leads them to some big wins and the BCS or better, he is set up for life at one of the most prestigious jobs in all of sport.
Third, he has no ties to Florida or the South, and he has shown he makes quick moves. He was only at Bowling Green for two years, and Utah for two years. This is his fourth at Florida, we'll see what happens.
Fourth, he needs a new challenge. He proved he could win at his three head coaching gigs so far. Now, the ultimate challenge will be open and the timing is perfect. Notre Dame plays every single game they ever play with a huge target on their back. Meyer's task of leading them back to greatness would be a tough one, and he knows that. But the challenge would come with a legendary status as a reward.
So now, as fans, we sit back and watch. Personally, I am indifferent of whether he goes or stays. But you have to admit this has now become a story, and we will all be interested in seeing what happens...

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