...had Urban Meyer stayed retired or whatever it was he was doing:
Short of death, there really has been nothing like it in the coaching profession. Knute Rockne was at the top of his game when he died in a plane crash in 1931.
Urban Meyer reacted to his own mortality when he stepped down as Florida’s coach Saturday night. Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe the impact on Florida and the game. The whirlwind, really, has just begun. All signs point to Florida AD Jeremy Foley moving quickly to name a new coach, perhaps by the end of the week.
Here’s a look at the fallout both past and to come:
--More than anything, Meyer’s departure shows the vagaries of the coaching profession. Tommy Tuberville once put the over/under for any coach at one school at 10 years.
Meyer lasted only five at Florida – nine total -- before the stress wore him down. They say there will never be another Joe Paterno, but how many more Meyers will there be given the stress of modern coaching?
Pete Carroll will be entering his 10th season next year at USC and the wear is starting to show. There are academic and NCAA issues within his program. This season’s team was the worst since a 6-6 debut in 2001. Carroll remains one of the top coaches in the game but 2010 will be a key season whether his program remains at the top.
Oklahoma's Bob Stoops saw some decline in his program as well this season. It was injuries mostly that caused a 7-5 season. The bigger concern is that Texas is getting a choke hold on the Big 12.
Speaking of which, Mack Brown is completing his 12th season but already sees the finish line with coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp, well, waiting.
The next great coaches are going to trend more toward Meyer than Paterno. Get in, get out, hopefully with enough money to live on and some championships to solidify your legacy. In that sense, rock star coaches are more like actual rock stars. In both professions, most of the best peak quickly and last – like the Beatles – about a decade.
The Rolling Stones of the world are as rare as the Bobby Bowdens.
Coaching is an unstable profession, at best. How unstable? When Florida hires its next coach, since 2002 it will have had as many coaches as Notre Dame. In the space of this decade, Meyer has gone from rookie head coach at Bowling Green to arguably the best at his profession to, for now, retirement. That dizzying rush to the top has included four conference championships, four BCS bowls and two national championships.
If he were alive today, those would be Rockne-like numbers.
--It seems that at least one program is going to get blown up in the middle of recruiting season. Unless a pro coach like Mike Shanahan is hired, the dominoes are going to fall down the line. The ripple effect could be significant.
Florida AD Jeremy Foley likely wants to have a coach in place by Jan. 3 when the recruiting dead-period begins (no contact with recruits). That means a busy week as Florida gets ready for Meyer’s last game.