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December 4, 2004
Official UF statement on hiring of Urban Meyer
Urban Meyer, a two-time National Coach of the Year and one of the nation’s top young coaching talents, has been named the 21st head football coach at the University of Florida, Gator athletics director Jeremy Foley announced today.
Meyer, 40, possesses 19 years of college coaching experience, including four as a head coach. Meyer turned around the football program at Bowling Green State University in 2001-02 and engineered a reversal of fortune at the University of Utah in 2003-04. Meyer, who sports a 10-1 record against Bowl Championship Series teams as a head coach, guided the Utes to a perfect 11-0 campaign this season and an expected berth in the BCS. He has an overall mark of 38-8 (.826) and is 24-6 (.800) in conference play as head coach.
“Urban Meyer represents the qualities that we were looking for in our head coach,” Foley said. “He is an innovator of the game with proven success as a head coach. He has shown the ability to attract recruits and is a tremendous teacher. Urban’s accomplishments speak for themselves. He is a man of high values and principles and we welcome him and his family to the University of Florida family.”
“I am certainly excited about the opportunity to be the head coach at the University of Florida,” said Meyer. “There were a lot of factors that went into this decision that our entire family had to consider. The opportunity to compete at the highest level at one of the nation’s most-respected academic institutions is something that was attractive for us. The passion of Gator fans is legendary in collegiate athletics and I am eager to be a part of that environment.
“The quality of recruits within the state of Florida and the Southeast Region offers a tremendous recruiting base for us,” Meyer continued. “The support from the University’s administration is evident in their commitment to my family and I am looking forward to leading the Gator football program.”
“Urban Meyer is an outstanding coach with a strong record, great leadership skills and a very promising future,” said UF President J. Bernard Machen. “I am very happy to welcome him along with Shelley and the Meyer family to UF and Gainesville.”
Meyer recently earned the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year award for the second straight time as the Utes begin to reap the benefits of an unbeaten regular season. On Friday, he was announced as The Home Depot 2004 Coach of the Year. In addition, Meyer is a semifinalist for both the Maxwell Club’s George Munger College Coach of the Year and the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year awards. Utah finished as the outright 2004 MWC champion to become the only back-to-back outright winners in the league’s history.
Under his direction, the Utes are averaging 46.3 points per game – almost four points a game better than the school record of 42.5 ppg set back in 1930. Utah currently leads the MWC in 11 categories, including scoring offense, total offense (502.7), pass efficiency offense (171.6), pass efficiency defense (108.1), turnover margin (1.45) and third-down conversions (50.3). The Utes were the MWC runner-up in rushing offense (244.9), passing defense (198.9), scoring defense (20.6), total defense (350.3), punt returns (10.9) and sacks against (18). Utah is ranked in the top 10 nationally in seven different categories.
Utah is riding a 15-game winning streak, the third-longest in the nation behind Boise State (22) and Southern California (20). The Utes did not trail at halftime of any 2004 game and their closest margin of victory was 14, a 49-35 win over Air Force on Sept. 25.
Meyer was named the 2003 National Coach of the Year by The Sporting News after leading the Utes to a 10-2 record, their first outright conference championship since 1957, a bowl victory and a final national ranking of No. 21. He became the first coach from the MWC and just the second coach from a non-BCS program to receive the coveted TSN award. Meyer was also voted the MWC Coach of the Year, becoming Utah's first conference coach of the year selection since 1978. He became the only coach in Utah's 111-year football history to win a conference title in his first year.
Ironically, Utah’s 2003 wins came against one of the tougher schedules in school history. Two were against Pac-10 foes Oregon and California, and the Ducks were ranked No. 19 when Utah scored a 17-13 upset. The Utes also knocked off perennial league powers Colorado State, Air Force and Brigham Young. It was the first Ute sweep of that trio in 10 years and the first-ever road sweep against them. Meyer's Utes capped the season with a 17-0 victory over Conference USA champion Southern Mississippi at the AXA Liberty Bowl.
In 2003, Utah won five more games than the previous year, when it was 5-6, and matched BCS national champion LSU as the fifth-most improved team in the nation. Meyer's explosive spread offense and one of the nation's best defenses brought Utah local and national attention. The 2003 Utes shattered their previous home attendance record by averaging 41,478 fans. The largest crowd ever to attend a Utah athletic event (46,768) and a national ESPN television audience watched the Utes beat California, 31-24, in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Known as a defensive power, Utah's reputation on that side of the ball held true while the offense simply took off using Meyer's system. Utah shut out its last two opponents, Brigham Young and Southern Mississippi, and finished No. 19 in the nation in scoring defense (19.1 points per game). On the other side of the line, Utah went from last in scoring offense in 2002 to third in the league by averaging 28.7 points per game in ’03. A similar improvement (seventh to fourth) was made in total offense. Red zone scoring, a Meyer point of emphasis, rose 11 percentage points (68%-79%), with 61% of those scores coming on touchdowns (versus 49% in 2002).
Utah's special teams, under Meyer's direct supervision, also improved dramatically from past years. The Utes led the nation in kick return average (28.2 yards per return) and ranked second in the league in kickoff coverage (16.4 yards per opponent return).
Meyer began his head coaching career at Bowling Green in 2001, where he engineered the top turnaround in NCAA Division I-A football, showing a six-win improvement from the previous season. The Falcons rebounded from a 2-9 record to post their first winning season since 1994 with an 8-3 finish. For his efforts, he was named the 2001 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year. A year later, he guided BGSU to a 9-3 record and its highest national ranking in school history (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today and No. 20 Associated Press). Bowling Green spent five weeks in the national polls and finished third in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 40.8 points per game.
The Falcons, who became the highest scoring team in MAC history, also finished ninth in the nation in total offense (448.9 ypg) and 11th in rushing offense (219.1 ypg) in 2002. They were the only team in the nation to average at least 215 yards rushing and 215 yards passing per game. BGSU also led the nation in red zone production, scoring on 61-of-63 trips (.968) inside the 20-yard line, including 52 touchdowns.
His teams fared well defensively, too. In 2001, BGSU ranked first in the MAC in scoring defense (19.5 ppg), rushing defense (86.3 ypg) and total defense (319.5 ypg). Bowling Green led the MAC in turnover margin both years under Meyer.
Meyer's 17-6 record at Bowling Green included a 5-0 mark against BCS teams and two wins over ranked opponents. After his first of two wins over Missouri, Meyer was named ESPN.com National Coach of the Week in 2001.
Meyer apprenticed at Ohio State (1986-87), Illinois State (1988-89), Colorado State (1990-95) and Notre Dame (1996-2000) before getting the head job at Bowling Green. The Ashtabula, Ohio, native learned the coaching trade from the likes of Sonny Lubick, Lou Holtz, Earle Bruce and Bob Davie.
The 2000 season saw Notre Dame use a number of different receivers who helped three different Irish quarterbacks make big plays all year. Receivers Joey Getherall, David Givens, Javin Hunter and Jay Johnson helped ND rank 17th nationally in passing efficiency, as eight different receivers caught touchdown passes.
The 1999 season saw Meyer’s receiving corps break the Irish single-season record for pass receptions with 192 and total receiving yards with 2,858. During 1998, Meyer coached split end Malcolm Johnson, who ended his career with 110 receptions, the seventh-most in school history.
In 1997, Meyer coached Johnson and fellow receiver Bobby Brown as they became the first Irish pair of players to record 40 or more receptions individually in a season as Brown had 45 receptions and Johnson had 42. In addition, the Notre Dame receivers helped set a then single-season school record with 190 receptions.
He coached a youthful Irish receiving corps in 1996 and helped integrate those players with veteran quarterback Ron Powlus to contribute to a Notre Dame offense that produced the third-highest figures for total offense and scoring in Irish history.
Prior to going to Notre Dame, Meyer had served as wide receiver coach for six years at Colorado State. He helped the Rams to the 1994 Western Athletic Conference title and to Holiday Bowl appearances following both the 1994 (10-2) and 1995 seasons (8-4).
In 1992, he coached wide receiver Greg Primus, an All-WAC pick who finished as Colorado State’s all-time leading receiver and ended up with 192 career catches for 3,200 yards (then 10th on the NCAA’s all-time yardage list). He also helped the Rams to the Freedom Bowl title following the 1990 season.
Meyer spent the previous two seasons at Illinois State, coaching quarterbacks and receivers in 1989 and outside linebackers in 1988. He worked as receivers coach at Ohio State in 1987 and helped the Buckeyes to a Cotton Bowl win following the 1986 campaign, when he coached tight ends.
A 13th-round pick in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft in 1982, he played two years in the Atlanta Braves’ organization. He played as a defensive back at the University of Cincinnati before earning his degree in psychology in 1986. He went on to earn a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio State in 1988.
Born July 10, 1964, Meyer and his wife Shelley are the parents of two daughters, Nicole (14) and Gigi (11), and a son, Nathan (6).
URBAN MEYER FACT SHEET
HEAD COACHING RECORD
BOWL GAMES AS A COACH
Lettered as a defensive back at the University of Cincinnati…A 13th-round pick in the 1982 Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft as a shortstop…Played two years in the Atlanta Braves’ organization….Spent the summer of 1982 with Sarasota of the Rookie League and played for Pulasky (Va.), a Class A team in 1983.
Birthdate: July 10, 1964 Hometown: Ashtabula, Ohio Education: 1986, bachelor’s degree in psychology, University of Cincinnati 1988, master’s degree in sports administration from the Ohio State University Family: Married to the former Shelley Mather. Three children: Nicole (14), Gigi (11), Nathan (6). UTAH HEAD COACHING HIGHLIGHTS (2003-04)
* The Home Depot 2004 Coach of the Year
BOWLING GREEN HEAD COACHING HIGHLIGHTS
* 2001 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year
QUOTES FROM MEYER
* “Back as a player, I was always the hardest working guy. I would be so upset with myself if I wasn’t. Was I the best? I was average, but I outworked everybody. As a coach, am I the smartest? No. But I believe that in a lot of areas I outwork a lot of guys.”
* “As a player, I was upset when a coach would come in and say, “OK, everybody is going to be treated fairly. That’s not the way good coaches work. John Wooden used to say, “Don’t treat players fairly, treat them the way they deserve to be treated.”
* “We have core values in our program and today's society, I think that's critical. The way Lou Holtz said it, ‘Whether it's raising a family, running a business or running a football team, there's no difference.’”
* “I learned that you can't get personal, that you have to let kids be kids. No doubt in my mind I wouldn't be here today without Sonny Lubick.”
* “I'm involved with every player. I know every player on this team. My wife is involved and knows everyone of these kids. There's not a kid on this team that can walk through this door and I couldn't tell you his story.”
* “Everybody has something in their life that they have to share. Nobody wants to, but to be close, they have to. We take pride in being close. As a coach, I have to know those stories and respect where the players come from. If you respect that, there's a chance they're going to respect you, and you'll get more out of them.”
* “Some people fear losing. I don’t. If they’re better than us and they play better, they’re going to win. But if we fail because we didn't see a certain thing in practice or because we missed something on film, then that’s what drives everybody here.”
* “There's no such thing as luck, there's a big word called investment. If there was luck, why work as hard as we do. I've never been involved in a game where the most invested team lost."
* “Our coaches are responsible for every aspect of the kids' lives - academic, spiritual, social. We are their fathers away from home.”
* “I'm an organizational freak. Every second is accounted for. Every second away from football is with my kids.”