Sports Columns

Column: Urban Meyer: From NCAA Coaching Legend to NFL Disaster

Joe Shlabotnik | FlickrAssistant Sports Editor Fernando Molina Bier shares his thoughts on Urban Meyer, the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ever since I started watching football, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been an eye-sore of a team to watch on TV. Unless it were prime-time football, when there is only one game playing at a time, you would not catch me watching the Jaguars. 

2017 was the one exception to their years of distress. “Sacksonville” was the name they got for their dominant defense. They advanced to the AFC championship game, but fell short against the once feared Brady-Belichick regime in New England. 

Regardless of their success, the next season everything went back to normal in Jacksonville — the team went back to losing. Since 2007, 2017 has been the only winning season they’ve had.

However, 2021 was supposed to mark a new beginning for the Jaguars. They had two first round picks including the first overall pick (first in franchise history) precisely when one of the best prospects in recent years was available — Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Not only did they get their franchise quarterback, but they managed to bring highly coveted head coach Urban Meyer out of retirement. The three-time NCAA national champion had received several offers from different teams throughout the past years, and for once, Jacksonville managed to get its way by landing him.

Unfortunately for Jacksonville, the experiment has not worked out so far. The team holds a 1-6 record in the NFL, and if you paid attention to the way I described Urban Meyer, you’d probably be surprised to find out he’s the problem. Regardless of how well-respected he was in college, the rate in which my respect for him fades is rapidly accelerating per week as his career in the NFL continues.

Even before Meyer’s debut season began, various players and coaching staff were reportedly disgruntled with his temper and collegiate coaching methods. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Meyer has been “rubbing the Jacksonville Jaguars staff and players the wrong way.”

“You can’t freak out about preseason games and belittle your coaches — on a staff you handpicked — every time things don’t go your way. It’s not going to work here,” an inside source told La Canfora.

Quite a few things change from working in the NCAA to working in the NFL, including the season schedule, roster-size, recruitment and even game rules to mention a few. In his transition to the NFL, Meyer should focus on adapting — listening to those with professional experience — rather than forcing his coaching methods upon his new team.

As if this weren’t enough to anger his colleagues, Meyer then proceeded to make one of the biggest mistakes of his career. As the whole Jaguars crew flew back to Jacksonville after what Meyer described as a “heartbreaking” 24-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 30, he decided to skip the trip back and went to Ohio instead.

Meyer was then spotted and filmed on a bar dance floor with a woman — who is not his wife — dancing on him. His hand was inappropriately close to her backside, causing the video to go viral.

Family and personal issues aside, the fact Meyer abandoned his team for a fun time after falling to a winless 0-4 record and two injuries is unacceptable. Truly a “heartbreaking” moment for Jaguars players, staff, and fans, as they question Meyer’s commitment to the team.

At a press conference Oct. 4, Meyer apologized for his poor decision-making.

“I just apologized to the team and the staff for being a distraction,” Meyer said. “It was stupid. So I explained everything that happened and owned it.”

Regardless of Meyer’s apology, the question remains — is this the fearless leader the Jaguars wanted? An apology does not mean much for the members of the Jaguars community, and it will take a long time for him to earn their trust back. 

For a team to be successful, you need every part of it to be working in harmony — but with so much inner conflict, the Jaguars can’t focus on winning. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, Meyer has been the wrong piece forced into the puzzle.

He’s lost charisma. We don’t see Meyer celebrating and throwing punches into the air after a touchdown like he did before. Even though he’s not as young as he once was, I don’t think he’s got that same hunger, passion or drive to make a name out of himself anymore.

This doesn’t mean Meyer can’t coach in the NFL — it’s way worse. This means he’s lost his credibility and respect. Even though the Jaguars are keeping him as a coach, there is nothing Meyer can do — in my opinion — to regain the respect of the team he now lost. Even if the players do forgive him, I doubt they will forget about how little he once cared for them. 

The decision to keep Meyer will either humble him and show us his true NFL coaching potential, or be the cause for another generation of Jaguars failure — wasting Lawrence’s bright future with it. For the sake of Jacksonville, I hope he opens his eyes, and realizes his success in the NCAA means nothing in the NFL until he proves he can win games.

(Visited 200 times, 16 visits today)
Next Story