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May 26, 2009

Meyer keeps focus on football at SEC meetings

Adam Gorney
Rivals.com College Football
Assistant Editor
DESTIN, Fla. - Florida coach Urban Meyer was not interested in talking about Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin's offseason shenanigans, the Shane Matthews imbroglio that captivated Florida fans in recent weeks or any other off-the-field distractions that have come up.

Meyer - unbelievable as this might sound - wanted to talk about his team and next season, not about the soap operas that keep SEC football fans salivating when no games are being played.

"This is the first year I've answered more questions about other schools than my own school and that bothers me," Meyer said Tuesday at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings. "I'm not going to do that anymore because everything gets printed. … I know better now.

"I understand what it is, you have to make news. Our APR and our GPA is not front-page story stuff. I wish it was because that's kind of cool, but you have to create stories I guess."

There have been a tremendous amount of offseason stories that have kept the masses intrigued, even at the expense of the SEC, and commissioner Mike Slive said he will address that topic during meetings this week - to keep the focus on the players.

Kiffin made more than enough headlines with his comments about Meyer after National Signing Day, drawing ire from the SEC and then apologizing later the same day. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier made news recently when he stoked the rumors on a radio show about Notre Dame being Meyer's dream job.

In Gainesville, the comments made by Meyer at a Gator Gathering when he said "you're either a Gator or you're not a Gator," and that if someone is critical of a player or coach on the team that person is not welcome in the football office, made for some hearty debate. It quickly became national news.

Meyer was shocked by the hullabaloo these stories have produced. He called the goings-on "real strange" and "bizarre."

"Think about that for a minute, put your pencil down and think about that for one minute," Meyer said. "Wow. That was a national story.

"Those are the main national stories on [SportsCenter]. That's bizarre. It shocks me. You're not getting anything out of me. We had 13 seniors last year, all 13 graduated. Isn't that cool?"

Turning to the football team, Meyer said maybe one or two players could transfer. He said next week the situation should be clearer. Also, there are two incoming freshmen who are still being watched over closely, seemingly for academic issues, but Meyer said, "it's all going to be good."

"I made the comment as our guys were getting ready for the championship game it was the most professional, unselfish group of kids I've ever been around," Meyer said. "Kids leave for a lot of reasons and [if] some are not going to play it's probably best if you want to go play somewhere but our kids, we have really good chemistry on our team right now."

An early signing period has become a hot topic and Meyer, formerly an adamant opponent of one, is slowly starting to change his mind. Before signing off on it, he'd like to know more about all the scenarios. The Gators already have 12 commitments in the 2010 class.

"I want to hear the proposals, but I'm certainly a little bit more in favor of it because some of the stuff has gotten out of hand," he said. "I'd like to hear it one more time. We're doing it now. We have a bunch of commitments now and I'm not in favor of it, but we live the life we live and have to get going."

Adam Gorney is a senior writer for GatorBait.net. He is a Penn State graduate and former writer for Newsday. This will be his sixth season covering major college football professionally.
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