Urban Meyer gets a quick lesson about life in the NFL

USA TODAY Sports

Urban Meyer is getting a quick taste of what Nick Saban experienced.

Successful college football coaches become, as a practical matter, the emperors of the towns in which they live and work. They can do pretty much whatever they want, hire whoever they want, say whatever they want to justify whatever bad decisions they make, and — as long as they win — no one says anything. More accurately, anyone who dares to say anything risks the scorn and scrutiny of the rest of the emperor’s subjects.

When bad things happen, the fans tend to look the other way. The local authorities tend to look the other way. The media tends to look the other way.

And if anyone in the media dares to ask tough, probing questions, he or she risks being publicly dressed down by the coach and/or privately harangued by the coach or one of his flunkies and/or chewed out by the boss who was privately harangued by the coach or one of his flunkies and/or ultimately assigned to cover beer-league softball.

That’s not the way it is in the NFL, as Meyer quickly has learned in the last 48 hours. In a press conference on Thursday to introduce the team’s coaching staff, Meyer faced an extended interrogation from reporters about the hiring of Chris Doyle to be the Jaguars’ director of sports performance. Although Meyer answered all questions and never got pissy or short or next-questiony with the media, he surely didn’t expect the reaction.

Watch the video of Meyer’s press conference. The third question, from Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com, addressed the Doyle hire. Meyer flashed a slight smirk and scratched his face as the question was asked. Meyer stated his case for hiring Doyle, calmly and clearly.

Then came a follow-up from DiRocco. Then another from DiRocco. Then, the next reporter (Mark Long of the Associated Press) continued to hit the subject. Another follow-up, from Mia O’Brien of First Coast News, came two questions later. And another. And then another attempt that was cut off by the moderator.

Meyer also learned that things don’t quickly and quietly go away. The story grew legs. More in the media noticed the issue. The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which had lauded the Jaguars for the hiring process that brought Meyer to Jacksonville, turned quickly on Meyer’s decision to hire Doyle, calling the move a reflection of the “good ol’ boy network that is precisely the reason there is such a disparity in employment opportunities for Black coaches.”

Others also noticed the notion that Meyer tried to create the impression that he worked with Doyle at Utah. “I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years. Our relationship goes back to when I was at Utah, and he was the No. 1 strength coach,” Meyer said. Some have suggested that Meyer never said that he and Doyle actually worked together at Utah.

While the precise language leaves some wiggle room, Meyer has yet to say that he wasn’t trying to create the impression that he and Doyle had worked together at Utah — quite possibly because Meyer knows he was trying to create the impression that they had worked together at Utah, and because Meyer realizes that, if he tries to play the “exact words” game, he’ll likely face even more scrutiny.

Doyle technically resigned, a day after being announced. The statement from Meyer suggests that the decision was far from voluntary.

“We are responsible for all aspects of our program and, in retrospect, should have given greater consideration to how his appointment may have affected all involved,” Meyer said. So, in the same way Doyle did an about-face in only one day, Meyer did one, too.

No, Meyer didn’t think it would happen this way in the NFL. It’s possible Meyer chose Jacksonville because he thought that a small NFL city with a history of football underachievement would react to him the same way that they reacted to him in Gainesville or Columbus.

Meyer could have learned these lesson by studying more closely Saban’s two years in Miami, or Meyer can learn it directly. Urban Meyer is in the process of learning it directly.

52 responses to “Urban Meyer gets a quick lesson about life in the NFL

  1. Saban quit before the end of his second season, so you should be saying Saban’s year and a half really…

  2. This is the beginning of the end. Meyer has clearly demonstrated he doesn’t understand the difference between being a college head coach and an NFL head coach. He won’t last more than three seasons before pulling a Saban.

  3. To take a line from Thomas Hobbes and apply it to the NFL: “and the life of your average NFL HC, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

  4. Urban Meyer isn’t a stupid man and he was not unaware of the scrutiny he’d face as an NFL coach. I’ve never understood the hate for the guy I guess success breeds contempt. Even though my Spartans handed him three of his five or six losses at OSU they generally dominated us and I don’t hate him
    I respect his success. The press loves these gotcha moments and they definitely got him this time but I’m sure he’ll be just fine and will have success with the Jags just like he has everywhere else he’s coached

  5. UM was a great college coach. But in the NFL he has the same record as Robert Saleh, Dan Campbell and David Culley. Saban failed in the NFL, so did Spurrier, Lou Holtz, Butch Davis, Chip Kelly and plenty others. Watching Greg Schiano flame out in Tampa when he tried treating pro athletes like they were playing for Rutgers was a great example that the NFL isn’t the same as college. UM is a rookie head coach and will learn just how different the NFL can be.

  6. Was that press conference hosted by DJ Khaled?
    “Questions about that hire? Another one. Another one. Another one. Put in that spin Urban!”

  7. I’d never hire a college coach from a big time school. They play with a stacked deck. I’d consider one from a small school that had success with less talented players. In the end, I really want NFL experience though.

  8. The emperor analogy is often true. But it doesn’t work here, because Meyer went through a similar controversy with an assistant coach at OSU. I believe the school suspended Meyer for a short time.

  9. I remember Saban’s proclamation that he was not going to leave the Dolphins despite all the rumors. In comes Alabama with a “boatload” of cash and it’s Bye Miami. He also did the same thing when he was at LSU and left for the Dolphins proclaiming he would be at LSU for years to come.

  10. Who would hire a guy fresh off being canned at his last job for racism and NOT expect blowback?

  11. Just Urban being Urban. He’s not going to change and will continue to make decisions that will further his agenda and then be shocked!, shocked I tell ya!, when he gets called out for bad moves and then claim he didn’t know or was misled. He may be a good FB coach but time and time again he’s proven what a fraud he is.

  12. “and the life of your average NFL HC, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

    Yeah the guy is guaranteed millions of dollars and no one is beating him up. Its hardly “brutish” or “poor”

    And many other things in life are solitary and short, big deal.

  13. Like most college coaches, Urban doesn’t care how big a pos you are as long as you win. I appreciate his time at OSU but let’s not act like every big college program is corrupt in some way lol. He got used to being able to get away with this kind of bs

  14. No, Meyer went through a similar situation at OSU. The problem is that Meyer learned NOTHING from that experience. He’s tone deaf to character concerns.

  15. Maybe the biggest obstacle for Meyer in the NFL will be at the qB position. None of the QB’s he had success with in college were any good in the NFL..

  16. Meyer won’t learn anything. And the reason people don’t like this guy is that he seems slimy. He will slither away from the NFL.

  17. No he learned something about the outrage mob

    Next time he’ll interview someone he doesnt want to hire just so he can hire who he wants without controversy.

  18. The Texans are loving this! they are less of a dumpster fire.

    If the Jags are a dumpster fire (no argument there), the Texans are a garbage barge floating down the Hudson, engulfed in flames, with fireworks going off constantly to keep our attention trained on it.

  19. Not sure why they felt the need to reverse their decision to hire the strength coach? I would like to think they knew about the past allegations & decided it wasn’t enough to bar him from the position. I get that he got repeated tough questions about a decision and then some reporter’s wrote about it in a negative light. So what? The NFL has lots of employees with checkered pasts. If this caused you to do an about face, you’re not strong enough to sustain your will on the organization & run it.

  20. All Urban had to do was Google what Doyle was alleged to have said and that should have immediately raised red flags. Of the 7 billion people on planet Earth, was Doyle really the absolute best person for the job. Not likely.

    Urban liked the guy and wanted to work with him. He’s not used to being questioned about hiring decisions, no matter what those people may have done in the past.

    It’s the NFL, Urb. Get used to people questioning you 24/7. You don’t have to like it, but you can’t stop it (like you did in college).

  21. 33yy says:
    February 13, 2021 at 11:32 am
    All Urban had to do was Google what Doyle was alleged to have said and that should have immediately raised red flags. Of the 7 billion people on planet Earth, was Doyle really the absolute best person for the job. Not likely.

    —–

    Perhaps he did. Why does anyone other than the team owner/GM/Coach think they should have any say whatsoever on who and why the team hires and fires? You want a say…..buy your own team…

  22. Never has a college coach sent so many criminals to the NFL. That tells you all you need to know about Meyer’s lack of character. Those “prayer circles” are a sham and part of his PR side

  23. Urban Meyer is Nick Sabin 2.0. The very things that make/made them great coaches at the college level, doesn’t work at the pro level. Because of that long term success, they never learn to adapt. Out in 2 years, mark my words.

  24. Urban, you’re not as slick as you think you are. Take this as a wake up call or you will not last at this level.

  25. He will coach for 2 years tops and then leave with a huge buyout with “health” concerns. We’ve seen this already, rinse and repeat.

  26. dj12gauge says:
    February 13, 2021 at 11:15 am
    “No he learned something about the outrage mob

    Next time he’ll interview someone he doesnt want to hire just so he can hire who he wants without controversy.”

    The real problem here wasn’t with the hiring process, it was with the results.

  27. Yeah, he probably thought he could get by with everything. After all, those Gators fans living in the past still worship him.

  28. No doubt he has some things to learn as a pro HC. Players don’t respond the same as in college, either.

    So his learning curve will cover his management skills too, just like in these instances of making bad hiring decisions.

    Can he be one of the rare coaches who can transition to the pro’s? I’m skeptical. Given he’s not going to be around very long (history says he’s not a long-term solution), he could be a different version of Jimmy Johnson in terms of success, but he could end up being another version of Chip Kelley.

  29. Great article Mike. The first name that came to mind when I started reading this was Joe Paterno. These coaches, if they don’t have any idea about the men they hire, well, they should. And good for the media for reminding them. Obviously a lot of racists felt like they could come out from under their rocks over the last four years, and just stroll right down Main Street, but those ideals been flushed down the toilet. Yes, there are always going to be a few floaters. Urban Meyer is 0-0 as an NFL head coach. He’ll soon be a very successful head coach since he’ll be drafting one of the best QB prospects to ever come out of college. Hopefully he’ll eventually put together a decent staff. It’s not always easy to get all your guys when you’ve been out of coaching for a while, so maybe we’ll let him slide with that excuse. Choke. Puke.

  30. spartanlegend says:
    February 13, 2021 at 9:28 am
    Urban Meyer isn’t a stupid man and he was not unaware of the scrutiny he’d face as an NFL coach. I’ve never understood the hate for the guy I guess success breeds contempt. Even though my Spartans handed him three of his five or six losses at OSU they generally dominated us and I don’t hate him
    I respect his success. The press loves these gotcha moments and they definitely got him this time but I’m sure he’ll be just fine and will have success with the Jags just like he has everywhere else he’s coached
    —————————————————————————————–
    Easy to understand why you would support a lying , cheating and morally bankrupt coach like Meyer since MSU has employed the same type of coaches for a very long time in both football and basketball and you’re such a big fan of them . You call it gotcha moments reasonable people call it the truth .

  31. College football is grotesque in so many ways. These the wildly overpaid and invincible coaches alone give off a very strange and evil vibe.

    How has a minor league sport become a bizarre religion that twists morality and humanity so much? Most of the fans didn’t even go to the college that they root for. Or any college, for that matter.

  32. Judging by the accompanying photo it looks like he needs a lesson in how masks are worn too.

  33. Not surprising at all that Meyer would bring his clown show from college to the pros. He’s essentially a more successful and careful version of Bobby Petrino. He’s human garbage with no ethics and morals and he will see quickly that being an NFL coach isn’t the same as being the Emperor of a college program. He ran from Florida after creating a toxic culture there and was forced out at OSU lying about a spousal abuser. Both times he cited health reasons for his departure. Good to see that he’s recovered from his “health issues”. Lying is one of his core competencies and is a default setting for him. Has he mentioned again that he’s a very religious man? It will be fun to watch him fail at Jacksonville and then leave, due to, of course, “health issues”.

  34. @JohnnyLarue. You nailed it perfectly! Everything you do as a college Coach is pretty much local, until you take the field, then your wins & losses are now national stories. I guess he thought his little press conference to announce his coaching staff was going to be pretty much a local story. Welcome to the Pro’s baby! Long gone are the days when everything you say & do; and everything you don’t say or do; is the law of the land.
    This episode is just the beginning of his new reality, wait until he realizes he can’t bully his players or have an assistant to get someone in check. He is the Coach, but he will be dealing with grown men who may have their own agenda’s, that might at times conflict with his.
    So yeah, it’s tough in the Pro’s baby!

  35. I think Urban Meyer will be very successful with the Jags especially if Trevor Lawrence turns out to be the QB all expect. As for Nick Saban being a failure with the Dolphins, he was 6-10 & 9-7. He finished his abysmally horrific pro career with 6 wins in a row.

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