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December 8, 2010Urban Meyer is stepping down as Florida Gators football coach, presumably for good this time.
The school has confirmed that Meyer, who led the program to two national titles in his six seasons, will not return in 2011 because of his desire to spend more time with his family.
A year ago, Meyer also quit as coach citing heath concerns (he was later diagnosed as having esophageal spasms), but a day later announced he had a change of heart.
Meyer will coach his last game for the Gators in the Outback Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 1 in Tampa.
"I have been a Division I football coach for the last 25 years and, during that time, my primary focus has been making a difference in the lives of the young men I have been so fortunate to have coached and building championship programs," Meyer said in a statement. "At this time in my life, however, I fully grasp the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field. The decision to step down was a difficult one. But, after spending more than two decades motivating and celebrating the young men I've been so proud to coach, I relish the opportunity to cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports.
"I know how fortunate I am to be in a position to make this choice and to have a family that is as loving and supportive as my amazing wife and children have always been. My family has shared both the commitment and the sacrifice required to coach at this level for so long and I would not have enjoyed the success I have had without their support."
Meyer, 46, is the country's winningest active coach (percentage) with 10 seasons or more, posting 103 victories against 23 losses for a .817 percentage in his 10 seasons. He reached 100 wins in 118 games, the second-fastest to do so since 1945. Overall, only five coaches have reached the 100-win mark faster.
Florida went only 7-5 in 2010, the worst season of Meyer's head coaching career.
Per a school release, Meyer is the first coach in the history of the Football Bowl Subdivision to post back-to-back 13-win seasons (2008 and 2009) and is the only coach to record three 13-win seasons in a four-year span.
According to a source, Meyer broke the news to the players early this afternoon.
"We weren't that surprised," the source said. "It was easier to take the second time."
Meyer's speech to the team wasn't emotional, the source added.
"He was business."
Meyer went 36-12 (.750) in Southeastern Conference play at Florida -- the fourth-best winning percentage among SEC head coaches who spent five or more years in the conference.
"It's been an honor and privilege to have Urban Meyer be our football coach for six years," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a release. "The championships, the mentoring of young men and his commitment to the University of Florida have indeed been special. As good of a coach as he is, he's a better person and a great friend. He has given everything he has to this institution and we are grateful for the experiences. It a chapter in our history that is closing, but I know Urban wants to remain involved with the University and the Gainesville community. He absolutely loves the Gators."
A press conference is set for 6 p.m.
"I am enormously grateful to the University of Florida and our tremendous fans for giving me the incredible opportunity to lead the Gator football program. The support provided by school president Bernie Machen and athletics director Jeremy Foley has been an invaluable part of all that we have been able to accomplish over the last six years."