Five potential future stops for Urban Meyer
ASK FARRELL: Will Urban Meyer return to coaching at some point?
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer announced Tuesday that his final game with the Buckeyes would be against Washington in the Rose Bowl. He said at a later press conference that he did not plan to coach anywhere again. But Meyer is just 54-years-old with a lot of runway ahead of him. Here are five possible landing spots based on speculation if Meyer does decide to return to the sidelines.
Clay Helton is on the hot seat entering next season. Athletics director Lynn Swann gave Helton his support after the Trojans finished 5-7, but there is no question another disappointing year means Helton will almost certainly be gone. Helton purged some of his assistant coaches including offensive coordinator Tee Martin, who was stripped of play-calling duties earlier in the year, and hired former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury for that position after he was let go in Lubbock. USC is a high-profile job, the Trojans owned recruiting in Los Angeles during the glory days and Meyer would not face the same media intensity to win immediately that he had at Florida and Ohio State. If USC opens, Meyer might find that situation appealing.
Farrell’s take: A lot of people think this could happen, but I find it less likely. Of course we have seen Meyer retire before and come out of retirement shortly thereafter when he stepped down at Florida and took over at Ohio State. USC is a massive job and can you imagine Meyer recruiting for the Trojans? It would be reminiscent of the Pete Carroll days of national dominance. This could happen, but I don’t see it as likely as others do.
All is good at Notre Dame these days as the Irish prepare for Clemson in the College Football Playoff but only a few years ago during a 4-8 season, there was a strong contingent that wanted to run Brian Kelly out of town. He was on a short leash and Kelly has responded with 10-3 and 12-0 seasons to keep his job secure but a few years down the road, it will be something to watch. Also, let’s not forget Kelly has flirted with the idea of coaching in the NFL before although he has also been critical of the NFL structure and his seeming lack of control in the pros, citing Chip Kelly’s struggles along the way. In past interviews, Meyer has called Notre Dame his “dream job.”
Farrell’s take: This seems more likely to me, but Notre Dame is nowhere near needing a new coach like USC does. But Notre Dame has always been Meyer’s dream job and it would be hard for him to turn down in a few years if it came open. National recruiting is needed and Meyer is the perfect fit to do that at Notre Dame. Having him run this national brand would be scary.
Meyer has always been a fantastic recruiter and he is arguably the best recruiting head coach ever in college football. His classes have almost always finished at or near the top of the Big Ten and national rankings and he has a unique and special way of convincing top prospects to come play for him. Recruiting is also an incredibly taxing and difficult part of coaching in college football and its one reason why many college coaches seriously consider the move to the NFL - because it’s all football, all the time. On “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd a few years back, Meyer admitted he did consider the NFL but not for long and that he loved coaching at Ohio State. Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier tried it and failed badly. Chip Kelly had marginal success in Philadelphia but was a mess in San Francisco. Jim Harbaugh was a success in the NFL before taking the Michigan job. With his health concerns and the pressure cooker that is the pro game, this sounds like a stretch.
Farrell’s take: Meyer has recently said he’d never coach in the NFL and I believe him. But the money that will be thrown at him will be amazing. Cleveland is open and would be a great fit for him and he could avoid the rigorous travel that comes with recruiting, which can get very old. I don’t see him ruining his legacy by taking a risk in the NFL, but it’s still a slim possibility.
Meyer loves coaching. And he’s only 54-years-old. Maybe returning to a small school - like Bowling Green where he got his start - could be a serious option in the coming years. The competitiveness in Meyer led him to the highest heights of college football. He’s achieved all of those things. Maybe that desire is no longer but the fire to still coach the game, to be around kids and to influence them might be after things settle down over the next while.
In basketball, Jim Calhoun in his mid-70s came out of retirement after a decades-long run at UConn to coach at Div. III University of St. Joseph. It’s not impossible to think Meyer would still want a piece of the action without the high-stress, high-stakes world of Big Ten football.
Farrell’s take: This is an interesting option. It appears that Meyer is such a control freak and perfectionist that the huge jobs at Florida and Ohio State wore him down. Would he want to remain in coaching and molding young men at the lower level of FBS football? It could happen. I’d be surprised if it did because with Meyer comes attention no matter where he goes, but this is an interesting situation to think about.
STEPS AWAY FOREVER
NewsOK.com compiled an excellent list of former big-named coaches who stepped away from coaching early in their lives never to return to the sidelines after Bob Stoops left Oklahoma. Some like Darrell Royal at Texas and Frank Broyles at Arkansas did not return to coaching but became athletic directors. Others came back to the sidelines. Others pursued other opportunities including those in the media, like Meyer did after his Florida years. A return to ESPN would certainly not be out of the question, a nice break from the pressures of coaching but that way Meyer could stay in the limelight. Does anyone believe Meyer will head for the horizon and never be heard from again?
Farrell’s take: This honestly appears to be the most likely option to me. He stepped down not only once but twice due to health reasons and the best thing for him appears to step away for good. Be a TV analyst and make a ton of money sitting in a studio and get rid of all the pressure of running a program Urban. Don’t take another program through highs and lows.