Throughout his decades in college football, Urban Meyer earned his nickname one non-believable story, one bizarre explanation, one demonstrably untrue bit of hypocrisy at a time.
It’s not that Meyer occasionally manipulated the truth or pulled a scholarship offer on the recruiting trail or tried to paint himself in the best possible light. That is college football. That’s par for the course.
No one makes it to the top of such a cutthroat profession by being a saint, no matter how much college sports likes to God up its coaches.
(Remember: Ohio State actually hired Meyer to coach a class in “Character and Leadership” that, according to the course listing, was focused on “value-based decision making, character, and personal integrity.” Also: Meyer claims that at Florida he led a regular “Bible Study” with … Aaron Hernandez.)
It is what it is. Even then, Meyer went above and beyond the norms with the casual way he would assault the truth. It could be in ways big and small, even on subjects that made no sense.
It worked because Meyer won big. Outside of Nick Saban, he’s the most successful coach of this generation. So all the drama paid off on Saturday. It’s why schools will fight to hire him again.
Meyer coaches on Sundays now though, and just one month into his tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars he’s engulfed in his latest “scandal.” This time it comes from him getting extremely close – like, all-hands team close – with a woman in an Ohio bar over the weekend.
The video of Meyer isn’t even the issue. That’s between him and his family. His players might chuckle behind his back, but so what? That’s life.
As always, it’s the way he handled it, with so much absurdity, that may have already cost him his locker room. Or as Jaguars owner Shad Khan declared, “he must regain our trust and respect.”
Good luck. Let’s look at Meyer’s media conference statement from Monday and count the mistakes.
“I just apologized to the team and the staff for being a distraction,” Meyer said.
Well, reporting from veteran NFL writer Mike Silver suggests he didn’t quite do that. An unnamed player said Meyer “only apologized to position groups individually” and cancelled a team meeting because, the player theorized, “he was too scared.”
Either way, not a great start.
Meyer claimed he didn’t return with the team to Jacksonville from Thursday’s loss in Cincinnati because he “stayed to see the grandkids.”
A coach of an 0-4 team taking the weekend to visit family is a bad idea. Meyer has never won a NFL game, so grinding (not the kind of grinding we saw) in seeking improvement for the team or working on the learning curve of being a rookie coach or preparing for future opponents is what he should have done.
NFL coaches are generally breaking down game film on the bus to the plane. Then again on the plane. Then at the office when they land. There are no nights off.
Meyer likes to speak about how he takes losses harder than anyone, but here he was drinking beers at his own bar, Urban Meyer’s Pint House in the Columbus suburbs. If that’s how he looks when torn up over a loss …
“From a player’s standpoint, you just expect the coach to give you everything he’s got,” Tom Brady said when praising his old coach, Bill Belichick, on Sunday.
Did the Jaguars players see that from Meyer?
As for using the grandkids as an excuse … the woman in the video is someone’s granddaughter, but not Meyer’s. The grandkids were not at the bar either Friday or Saturday night a couple hours away from Cincinnati.
Simply put, Meyer should have been at work. That’s the stuff a locker room cares about.
“There was a big group next [to] our restaurant and they wanted me to come over and take pictures, and I did,” Meyer said. “They were trying to pull me out on the dance floor, screwing around, and I should have left.”
Meyer was just a victim here, huh? And this woman was just trying to get Urban to dance? He didn’t already know her? It was just a brief encounter? Does Meyer realize he is talking to grown men now, not college kids or desperate school administrators?
“We looked at him like, ‘WTF?’” the Jaguars player told Silver. “Right when he left everyone started dying laughing. And he knew it.”
“I’ve always been so defensive of [the players],” Meyer said. “I remember when Trevor [Lawrence] told me he was going to go to Vegas for his bachelor party. I was just like, ‘My gosh, man, be careful and surround yourself because I’ve seen this happen.’”
First the grandkids, now the franchise quarterback? All so he can remind people how he is supposedly a great father figure? Did this even happen? Lawrence was married three weeks before Jacksonville even drafted him, so the timeline is a bit odd.
Why is Lawrence getting name checked here anyway? What did he do? Now – perhaps – Lawrence has to discuss with his wife why Urban Meyer, of all people, was so worried about what was going to happen (or did happen) at his Las Vegas bachelor party?
Gee, thanks Coach. Appreciate it.
“He has zero credibility in that stadium,” the player told Silver. “He had very little to begin with.”
This is what Meyer will need to overcome if he’s going to have any success. It isn’t what happened at that Ohio bar over the weekend.
It’s why he was there in the first place and every part of his explanation since. And who knows what he’s saying behind closed doors in Jacksonville.