Urban Meyer’s respect, trust issues come from perception, judgment

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Urban Meyer broke no laws. Urban Meyer did nothing wrong, within the broader perspective of a modern, civilized society.

The problem with Urban Meyer is that he did something stupid. He engaged in extremely poor judgment, personally and professionally. He put himself in a compromising position, smiled for the cameras, and otherwise ignored the reality that, in this day and age, we are all Big Brother. The defect in his brain that caused him to not get out of that situation before it became a situation invites very real questions as to whether he’s capable of making good decisions in other potentially tricky situations, including the various challenging situations that arise while coaching an NFL team.

From the team’s perspective, the far bigger crime is the perception that Meyer was diddling while the franchise burns. The Jaguars had just suffered, as Meyer described it, a “devastating, heartbreaking” loss to the Bengals. The Jaguars have now lost nineteen in a row. Falling to the Titans on Sunday will make the Jaguars only the third team in NFL history to lose twenty straight games.

Most coaches would regard the three extra days between Thursday of Week Four and Sunday of Week Five as a gift, an opportunity. A chance to spend even more time fixing the things that need to be fixed, in an effort to avoid joining the 1942-45 Cardinals and 1976-77 Buccaneers as the only NFL teams to lather, rinse, and repeat with the shampoo and conditioner of defeat, twenty straight times.

No, the first fifteen losses don’t apply to Meyer. But they attach to the franchise’s permanent record, and the franchise needs someone to give more than half a crap about keeping the twentieth consecutive loss from happening. To do everything in his power to avoid that outcome. If, indeed, the Ravens matching Pittsburgh’s 43-game streak of 100 or more rushing yards means anything (and it doesn’t), losing twenty games in a row surely means a lot more. In the worst possible way.

In a Friday conference call that rehashed the last-second loss to the Bengals, Meyer vowed that, as to the things that caused a 14-point lead to evaporate after halftime, “I’m looking at it all.” Meanwhile, Meyer was in Ohio, ostensibly “visiting the grandkids” and later that night, after the grandkids went to bed, definitely not burning the midnight oil while examining the issues that kept the team from finishing the job with a two-score lead.

“I played football for probably 16 years, total,” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said on Tuesday’s Brother From Another. “I coached for 28 years. I never went to a game where the head coach didn’t come back with my team, me and myself for 13 years as a head coach, 15 years as an assistant 15 years playing when the head coach went to a game, when we returned the head coach came back with us. So that to me, I just don’t know how you do that and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to stay in Ohio.’ . . . That was the mistake to me. What happened in the bar or whatever, that’s secondary. You go back with your team. We finished by getting home and getting everybody — that’s your responsibility as the head coach to make sure everybody lands on that plane, safe, everybody gets back to the facility, then you do what you have to do.”

Really, what NFL coach doesn’t fly back from a road game with the team? What NFL coach treats the mini-bye that players enjoy after a short-week game as a chance to have some of an in-season break? Nineteen losses in a row. The Titans are coming to town, with a superior roster and a former Meyer assistant, Mike Vrabel, running the show. A coach worth whatever money he’s making should have sprinted for the plane and ordered the pilot to fly it like he stole it back to Jacksonville, so that Meyer could start busting his ass for the chance to avoid twenty losses in a row, and to go 1-0 against a former colleague turned rival.

Meyer, frankly, abandoned his post. What he did while abandoning his post doesn’t matter. The fact that he didn’t return to Jacksonville with the team does. The strong possibility that he explained the situation by saying he wanted to spend time with his family but otherwise would be working hard remotely makes it a lot worse, given what he did — and given that he showed no self-awareness regarding the consequences that would result from his actions.

Nothing he says now will change that. Especially since the things he said during his radio show on Tuesday about trust and the sanctity of the locker room make what he did even more bizarre.

When owner Shan Khan called Meyer’s behavior “inexcusable,” he surely wasn’t referring to the things that happened in the bar. The problem came from Meyer not acting like an NFL should have acted after a game, ditching the flight back to his new home, failing to roll up his sleeves and work toward fixing the many flaws on the team, and ultimately rubbing it in the faces of anyone with the team who was, unlike Meyer, was giving the current predicament the attention it deserves.

44 responses to “Urban Meyer’s respect, trust issues come from perception, judgment

  1. It reminds me of when Lebron James first went to the Miami Heat and tried to stay behind after a game because they had a couple of days off, and Dwyane Wade was like no, that’s not how it works. He was clueless because he didn’t know how to win up until that point and that perception means as much as the actions of not going home with the rest of the team as you’re trying to get everyone on the same page to win a title. Cleveland had let him do that because they were just grateful to have a good player on their team, but Pat Riley showed him the structure to follow in that organization. Urban is used to lying to some families and saying some fake prayers to get the best players to dominate worse teams. That doesn’t work in the NFL. There is no way he fixes this. So it’s a matter of does he keep stealing money or bow out gracefully.

  2. There is no argument against the above. No ‘what he does in his personal life is between him and his wife’. Your team is hurting, you travel with them, not stay at home like a petulant child and then hit the bar to blow off some steam. God forbid one of this players did the same thing, what would be happening to them right now.

  3. I feel a lot of people are missing this point- that he didnt go back with the team. to me staying and playing in ohio is the real issue, not the type of playing he did. no one (other than his wife) cares that he was involved with some woman.

  4. OK, I’m not defending Meyer – he’s clueless, it appears. He should’ve flown back with the team. But I don’t think any of us are able to honestly answer whether he was working or not from Columbus.

    Clearly he wasn’t while he was in the bar. What if pics had been taken of him at a restaurant? Would the narrative be that he wasn’t putting in the work required of an NFL coach? There’s a moral component – because a woman was grinding on him, he wasn’t working. And that makes no sense. He was very stupid to put himself in this position in the first place, but contrary to what this article says, much of the criticism IS about what was happening in that bar.

    Again – not defending him, but there’s an awful lot of holier-than-thou judgement about his work ethic when none of us knows what Meyer was or wasn’t doing.

  5. Jacksonville needs to either fire Urban or support him fully now. He messed up. Everyone knows he messed up and he admitted it to all concerned parties. It doesn’t mean it’s forgotten. I’m sure he’s on thin ice, but aren’t we all in today’s world?

  6. What he did is not for us to judge, that is between him and his wife. Secondly, he should have cleared not going back with the team with the big guy (Khan) to make sure it was ok. A coach’s job isn’t finished when the game is over, he remains their coach on the flight back until they reach team headquarters. It is a bad look especially in light of Jacksonville’s losing streak and the manner in which they lost vs. Cincy. It looks like he isn’t dedicated enough to right the ship. Khan is exactly correct in that Meyer has to regain their trust and perception from them. I personally think he can come back from it for one reason and that is Trevor Lawrence, that young man is special. He is going to have to lean on Lawrence and James Robinson. I really think Jacksonville is heading in the right direction but they definitley don’t need distractions like this, especially from their head coach.

  7. At least we know this wasn’t premeditated self-sabatage so he could be shown the door on his way to USC, right? That way he wouldn’t be labeled a “quitter” like Nick Saban was in leaving the Dolphins. This is all so blatantly obvious.

  8. I agree with Coach Dungy and Shad Khan. I hope Mr. Khan included a morality clause – or whatever they call it – in Meyer’s contract because he should be able to fire Meyer without paying him anything more. Egregious conduct like this shouldn’t earn Meyer or any coach a golden parachute.

  9. “Urban Meyer did nothing wrong, within the broader perspective of a modern, civilized society.”
    ___________

    Absolutely disagree. A 57 year old man cavorting around, committing lewd and lascivious acts in public has always been wrong, and remains wrong. If a civilized society supports this type of behavior perhaps we need to examine what we consider to be civilized.

  10. “that’s your responsibility as the head coach to make sure everybody lands on that plane, safe,..”

    I missed the part where Urban was expected to pilot the plane??

  11. Khan is apparently the only person surprised by Meyer putting himself above the team…And despite this obvious hiring blunder, he AGAIN blows it by not firing the albatross immediately.

    I feel sorry for Jags fans who have to be wondering why they can’t just hire quality people.

  12. Coaching isn’t just X’s and O’s. It’s leading full grown men, and convincing them to put their bodies on the line while they buy into your plan to win. People complain in these boards all the time about players who are distractions to their team or that lack character.

    Meyer is a distraction to his team, he knows social media will have a field day with a married celebrity. Meyer lacks character, we all feel for his wife and kids this week. How can he lead full grown men, and tell them to be better than he is? Or say he is fully committed to his multi-million dollar contract, which should have him up watching film that night, not making a film?

    This man is no leader.

  13. I obviously never played sports professionally, but I remember a few tough losses playing lacrosse growing up and a long, silent bus ride back home.

    In his autobiography, Wayne Gretzky talked about after being traded to L.A. he looked around the locker room after the first loss and said he knew a massive culture change was needed because he didn’t feel the way people were acting was appropriate after losing a game.

    look, if I’m a owner and my head coach asks me to hang back and says he hasn’t seen the grandkids in awhile, I’m prob gonna say ok because family is important and coaches make a huge family sacrifice. after a loss, I prob stil say ok and think to myself maybe it will help urban decompress.

    but, if I ok that and I see him out at a bar, I’m livid. throw what he was doing on top of it and I’m even more livid.

    throw the fact that he coaches a team in Florida, and he used to coach a college team in Florida as well, and he’s rocking OSU gear , and it’s more gas on the fire. part of playing or coaching for a team is you jave to at least pretend to embrace the local area. I’m a Lions fan, I live in Michigan. Detroit Tigers opening day is a huge thing here that has taken on a life of its own way bigger than baseball. companies giving people the day off is common, parents take their kids oitnof school to go to the game, it’s a giant party downtown, and the game is filled with local celebs. every year at opening day – Calvin johnson was usually in the stands. and didn’t wave to camera on the jumbo tron. he got it, he understood he needed to be seen there. stafford usually was seen wearing an old English D hat when he was out and about. he got it. both of them have georgia ties, but you didn’t see them wearing braves gear. it wouldn’t have been appropriate and they both knew it.

    urban doesn’t seem to get it. he didn’t think about the big picture and how he would be perceived and he certainly didn’t factor in the fact that him feeling on a women that is not his wife in public was going to blow up. he didn’t give consideration that wearing OSU gear when he coaches a Florida team looks really really bad. this is amplified that he coached the gators previously and it was at least SOME of the reason he was hired as he is still immensely popular in Florida.

    you add all this to the list of other things- questionable personal moves, the hiring of a strength coach with allegations of racism, and a bad start to season……

    I just don’t see how this can work with him as coach. Assuming that Lawrence works out this team is at step one of what could be a total turnaround for the franchise. i don’t see another option than cutting the losses now and getting rid of him.

  14. jtabasque says:
    October 6, 2021 at 9:41 am
    Again – not defending him, but there’s an awful lot of holier-than-thou judgement about his work ethic when none of us knows what Meyer was or wasn’t doing.
    _____________

    We know exactly what Meyer was doing, it’s on tape for all of the world to see. Do you honestly think that he was reviewing game film and breaking down the next opponent before and after hanging out at the club?

  15. He couldn’t lead kids to a candy store, much less grown men on a team. Even as a college coach, those kids aren’t playing for him. They’re playing to make it to the next level. He’s just the guy they have to listen to for a couple of years to get the bigger prize.

    Shad Kahn would be best served to cut bait now to save the locker room. Darrell Bevell certainly has experience as a lame duck, interim head coach and he can’t be any worse than the dumpster fire that’s “leading” the team now.

  16. Do the RIGHT THING Kahn and release him as HC. Show the team and the Fans you want a Leader as HC ( and not a 57yo frat boy). Get your team back sir.

  17. I really think Jacksonville is heading in the right direction but they definitley don’t need distractions like this, especially from their head coach.
    ==========

    This is proof they aren’t headed the right direction.

    They gave a shady (unproven NFL) guy, with a history of burnout, a massive contract and personnel control.

    With Lawrence in-house, this is a massive failure.

    Lawrence is the only thing that may land them another respectable candidate.

  18. 12brichandfamous says:
    October 6, 2021 at 9:36 am
    A leader takes care of his team first. He takes care of himself last.

    Or herself.

  19. “no one (other than his wife) cares that he was involved with some woman.”
    ___________

    If he was just a normal guy then maybe but he’s not a normal guy. He’s the head of the entire team and the face of the franchise. Plus morality is one of his biggest talking points. What he did demonstrated he isn’t who he claimed to be AND he then lied about it in his initial apology. Guys may not care if he’s messing around but they DO care that he’s lied to them.

  20. I have no idea why people feel the need to actually EXPLAIN that Urban Meyer is being given too harsh treatment….

    He brought all of this scrutiny upon himself by YEARS of the exact same behavior !!! Forget about the video…

    He was perceived as taking a “cash grab” as soon as he signed his deal in Jacksonville because of his shady,shady, shady antics at all of his previous college jobs… of which he was able to weasle his way out of.

    Then he does this…. don’t feel sorry for this man. He has made millions and millions of dollars… His moral compass points straight North people…

    I’m a youth Football coach in Orlando… I don’t get paid a cent. I spend upwards of 40 hours a week just on coaching, gameplanning mentoring alone. After a loss this past weekend… myself and the other coaches where immediately working on correcting issues… within an hour of our game…

    Don’t feel sorry for this guy or make an excuse for him. He is not worth it.

  21. Urban Meyer thinking he’s better than everyone else. That’s not a big surprise. His narcissism is going to be his downfall. Why would anyone hire him now? This entire thing was a bad idea from the start.

    the franchise needs someone to give more than half a crap about keeping the twentieth consecutive loss from happening

    If the owner cared about losing he wouldn’t have hired Trent Baalke as the GM. Khan took over a team with a history of being at least decent and had several very successful seasons. The Jags have had one winning season under Khan’s leadership–and that was an aberration. Every other season since Khan bought the team has had double-digit losses. That’s not a coincidence. He’s the worst owner in the league. At least Jerruh wants to win. Mike Brown may only want to count his money but even he wants to win. Khan doesn’t care about winning.

  22. This reminds me of Steve Spurrier’s stint in Washington when he mocked other coaches for coming in early.

  23. Soooooooooooooooo glad that I’m not a Jags fan. This is the guy coaching your franchise QB?

    Just not seeing the positives of him being the HC. Have not seen anything at all. Truly hope he doesn’t waste a talent like Trevor Lawrence.

  24. I’m sure Urban lost a lot of respect from his players as they stared at his empty seat on the 2 hour flight back to Jacksonville.

  25. In one of your earlier articles Mike you mentioned that Urban had a “crisis the locker room”. If Urban has truly lost the players then he has to go, regardless of how the contract situation plays out. Are you really going to keep this guy if you can’t get out of the contract – knowing that he has lost the respect of the players and that the players may not even respond to him? Gotta go.

  26. C’mon everybody, give Urban a break – isn’t coaching Jacksonville punishment enough?

  27. If this was Mike Tomlin (not that he would ever do this) he’d get a pass. The reason Meyer doesn’t and shouldn’t get a pass for this is because he’s spent his entire time since he was hired, pissing off everyone within the Jags organization… Not sure why the Jags (even with different owners) gravitate toward hiring guys who seem intent on alienating everyone. At least Coughlin won in the NFL, but he ran off some great players before he was fired. After Meyer is gone, expect Khan to hire the biggest players coach available.

  28. I don’t see how Meyer ever gets his credibility back after this…not with his track record. How can he be taken seriously with all of the lies and irresponsible behavior? No player is going to respect him. If you still haven’t matured at age 57,you’re never going to.

  29. This is a thoughtful, well-written analysis that correctly characterizes the situation. Meyer is done.

  30. “Urban Meyer did nothing wrong, within the broader perspective of a modern, civilized society.”

    I’m not so sure about that. It looks to me like he lied to a lot of people to engineer going out and partying, college-style. False pretenses to his boss, his wife, and the team.

    I’m not willing to accept that “modern, civilized society” is somehow post-truth, post-honesty, post-honor. Right and wrong is about a lot more than just where the line is for the worst possible behavior.

  31. What he did in the bar was wrong. I wonder if he was drunk, but whatever. I can’t however, get on board with it being wrong for him to stay in Ohio to spend time with his family. To me, family always comes first. The airplane pilot is responsible for making sure the passengers get back to Jacksonville safely, not the coach. They are grown men, who should be able to get off the plane and to where they need to be by themselves. He was taking the night off. Wasn’t it Bruce Arians that said he would fire an asst. coach if they missed one of their kids games or recitals? People take football way too seriously. If he worked for a company and him and some people from his company went to Ohio for a business conference and he stayed while everyone else left, it wouldn’t be a big deal, so why is it because he’s a football coach. If he was coaching kids, that would be different.

  32. While the media creates the story – lets be real. In the eyes of his players – the fact is – he is the original OG. Players couldn’t give a rip about a meeting or marital infidelity.

    In the locker room, this helps him – and the players will rally around him.

  33. This liar just doesnt get it. He still thinks hes at Ohio St where they worship you for beating up on the Florida A&Ms of college football and MAC teams

  34. Techieballer says:
    October 6, 2021 at 11:54 am
    What he did in the bar was wrong. I wonder if he was drunk, but whatever. I can’t however, get on board with it being wrong for him to stay in Ohio to spend time with his family. To me, family always comes first.
    ___________

    Was Meyer spending time with his family while he was in the club? Was he putting his family first by grinding with and groping a woman who is not his wife?

  35. Techieballer says:
    October 6, 2021 at 11:54 am
    What he did in the bar was wrong. I wonder if he was drunk, but whatever. I can’t however, get on board with it being wrong for him to stay in Ohio to spend time with his family

    ________________________________________________

    The head coach is supposed to travel with his team…always. He is supposed to support them in every way, including making sure that they get to and from the destinations safely, sucking up losses and celebrating wins with them (well, no wins yet), figuring how to fix things, etc…but you get the picture. It’s a TEAM. Meyer is being paid A LOT of money to lead that team, and he abandoned them. A mature, responsible adult NEVER does what Meyer did. He should be unemployed.

  36. I have no personal opinion of Urban Meyer, and am not a Jaguars fan. But everyone saying a coach should always come back with his team after the game, what is your response to Bill Parcells not returning with the Patriots after losing SB 31? Yes his contract was up but still, you return after the game right?

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