Northeast Florida’s short, regional nightmare is over. The Jacksonville Jaguars have fired Urban Meyer during his first season as head coach as things spiraled out of control on and off the field. Trying to pinpoint a specific reason Meyer was fired is futile. The easier way to understand it is to add up everything that accumulated over the course of just a few months.
Meyer started his reign by hiring Chris Doyle, who was accused of racist remarks and bullying during his time with Iowa. Doyle resigned soon after. Then came the failed Tim Tebow experiment. Rumors of player discontent followed Meyer into the season, which started with a demoralizing loss to the Houston Texans. He quickly realized the NFL is like “Alabama every week” and things didn’t get easier. Meyer rubbed some media members the wrong way by being unavailable for interviews.
And then the viral video and photos hit. Meyer tried his best to apologize for skipping a team flight so he could hang out at a bar with a young woman, but his answers lacked logic or care. He reportedly lost more respect with the players, if he still had any at that point. Meanwhile, Jaguars owner Shad Khan had to release a statement admonishing Meyer but backing him, so long as he proved himself. As calls for his firing started to trickle in, Meyer said he had no intention of leaving. Meyer’s wife, meanwhile, left social media.
On the field, Meyer’s relationship with the players and acumen for what was happening on the field started to crack. He offered up absurd goals and seemed to appear miserable at every turn, especially as the losses mounted. All the while, people continued to assume he’d jump back to college football if given the chance, which he denied.
Things started coming to a head two weeks ago when running back James Robinson was seemingly benched. Meyer initially denied that he had any role in that and assumed Robinson was injured, which made no sense because Robinson went back into the game late in the fourth quarter. Trevor Lawrence voiced his displeasure over the incident and it eventually came out that Meyer reportedly did order the benching himself.
That report was part of a scathing rundown from Tom Pelissero that included reports of Meyer getting into a verbal altercation with wide receiver Marvin Jones (which Jones would later confirm, in part) and Meyer calling his assistant coaches “losers” and challenging them to prove their resume and why they deserve to be there. We also heard this was just “the tip of the iceberg.” Meyer used this past weekend’s post-game presser to say any coach who leaks to the media will be fired. Jags owner Shad Khan also reportedly spoke to the coaching staff about leaks before reiterating his support for Meyer. Meanwhile, Meyer continued to show how he wasn’t entirely aware of what was happening on the field.
And then came the allegations that he had kicked former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo during warmups, telling him “I’m the ball coach, I’ll kick you whenever the f*** I want.” Whether or not that was the last straw, it was the perfect capper on the Meyer era, as he was fired later that evening, a move that multiple Jaguars players were reportedly very pleased with.
It’s pretty easy to read all of that and think there is no possible way that Meyer gets another job related to football again. While he certainly will never be an NFL coach again, we’ve seen coaches do even worse than Meyer and get lucrative jobs in college football. Give it a couple of years and, if he wants it, there’s no doubt that some college football program looking to make a statement will be happy to back up the cash truck for him.
As for television, before taking the Jags job, Meyer was making a name for himself as one of the studio analysts on Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff, sharing insight from his coaching days and providing the kind of thoughtful discussion on leadership and teambuilding that have since become more ironic than intended.
3. ✔️ pic.twitter.com/ZJF8z2lSze
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 16, 2021
He left that job to become the Jaguars head coach and the presumption was always that a role like that was waiting for him if and when he wanted to return.
The assumption now is that when you look at the list of issues, problems, and failures listed above, that Meyer would be too radioactive for Fox to want to bring back into the fold.
Urban Meyer’s next major job
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 16, 2021
To which we say, have you seen some of the people that Fox has been more than happy to hire in spite of their career concerns and questionable behavior?
Fox Sports hired Pete Rose in 2015 to be a guest studio color analyst for MLB coverage on Fox and Fox Sports 1 in spite of his well-known gambling issues, being banned from MLB, and other allegations. Incidentally, his time with Fox ended in 2017 over sexual misconduct allegations.
Matt Millen, whose stint as general manager of the Detroit Lions is considered to be one of the worst in NFL history, so bad that he even apologized to Lions fans about it, was hired by Fox afterward to break down football games on the Big Ten Network.
Alex Rodriguez might be one of the best players in MLB history, but he also left the game with two performance-enhancing drug scandals to his name, having tried to lie his way out of both of them. He was suspended for an entire season because of the second one, a stunning thing to happen to a Hall-of-Fame caliber player that might have made him radioactive to media companies. And yet, Fox Sports snapped him up as a MLB studio analyst following his playing career. He’s since gone on to work with ESPN as well.
The point isn’t to drag these individuals for their careers or personal faults, but rather just to show that if Fox thinks Urban Meyer can pop some ratings, and he most certainly will be able to when he decides to emerge from this post-firing cocoon, they will hire him and they won’t think twice about it.
You could point to a lot of issues with Urban Meyer right now but, give it 6-12 months, and as the emotions fade and the Jaguars move on, there will be plenty of room for media companies to consider rehabilitating him through their sports programming. They’ll be more than happy to take the heat for hiring him because they know you’re going to tune in to see if he talks about his time with the Jaguars or about what happened behind the scenes. And even beyond that, the name of Urban Meyer still carries the kind of awareness that will make him a viable TV presence.
You’re honestly going to sit there and tell me Fox would be happier standing pat with Bob Stoops instead of replacing him with Meyer on Big Noon Kickoff to discuss that day’s Michigan game? There’s just no way.
It’s easy to look around today and assume Meyer is “dead professionally,” as Paul Finebaum said. But there’s way too much evidence to the contrary to believe that’s true.