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Can we believe a word Urban Meyer says?

November 29, 2011 | 10:51 am


Urban Meyer stepped down as Florida's head coach a year ago, citing health reasons and a desire to spend more time with his family. That was a year after announcing his retirement, only to abruptly change his mind and return to the sidelines for the Gators.

On Monday, Meyer un-retired again, returning to college football as the new head coach at Ohio State. The university said he will receive a six-year contract that pays $4 million annually, plus another $2.4 million total in “retention payments."

But can we really believe that Meyer is ready to make such a commitment with his history of changing his mind so often? Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the topic -- check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion with a comment of your own.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

Here's the news flash on Urban Meyer: He's a coach, not a polygraph volunteer. Put your trust in their words at your own risk. Nick Saban said he was not going to be the next coach at Alabama, and then he was. The great ones don't have to be believable -- they just have to win.

So what if Meyer double-talked and backtracked his way out of Florida? The only stat Gator fans should care about is two BCS titles in six years. Coaches are, in many ways, professional manipulators and career opportunists. I have no problem with Meyer coming out of retirement to coach at Ohio State. I believe him when he says he had no inkling a year ago the job would be open. Who did?

Meyer has a right to do whatever he wants, and we have the right to think he's 10% genius and 90% disingenuous. But this yarn makes sense. Ohio State is a great job. Meyer is from Ohio. He is a former Buckeye grad assistant. He will win big there. It is a dream job.

Will he be the last coach to say one thing and do another? Dream on.

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune

The tweet came from a fellow sportswriter: “Urban Meyer announces retirement from family ‘in order to spend more time with my job.’ ”

Hard not to chuckle. But this is a situation where we should give leeway to an athlete or coach. We’re not in their shoes, and it’s hard to know when to quit. Just ask Brett Favre, Bill Snyder, Michael Jordan or, uh, Brett Favre.

When Meyer left Florida he cited health reasons and the desire to watch his kids compete in sports. I think the truer reason he left was burnout, but coaches don’t like to use that word. It makes them appear weak, and it can follow them throughout a career (see: Vermeil, Dick).

So I do believe Meyer is ready to coach again. Or at least I believe that he believes it.

[Updated at 11:25 a.m.:

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel

Who will ever forget Urban Meyer’s introduction as the new head coach at Florida seven years ago when he said he had reached “the top of the mountain” in college coaching?

Guess it must have been foggy in Gainesville that day and Meyer couldn’t see there was another mountain peak in the distance — one that was even higher than the one he had ascended to in Gainesville:

O-Lie-O State.

The Buckeyes have replaced one coach who couldn’t tell the truth with another.

Meyer’s decision to take over at Ohio State came just 10 months after he said he was leaving Florida to spend more time with his family and to take care of some mysterious health issues.

Meyer took a job with ESPN almost immediately after he left UF (so much for the family obligations) and now — after seeing the mess of a program he left behind in Gainesville — it’s becoming more clear what his health issues were:





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Photo: Urban Meyer is introduced as Ohio State's new football coach Monday. Credit: Kyle Robertson / Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch