The world seems to be caving in around Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, as reports of recent run-ins with players just scratch the surface. Over the past day, I reached out to several people in the Jaguars’ building, as well as others who know what’s going on. The picture they paint is an ugly one. Could Meyer be fired in the near future?
Update: On December 16 in the early morning hours, Urban Meyer was fired by the Jaguars. Here are seven head coach candidates to replace Meyer in Jacksonville.
Are the Jaguars close to firing Urban Meyer?
The bottom line for Meyer in Jacksonville? He’s lost everyone in the building — his players, his coaches, and the Jaguars’ staff. It’s beyond disliking the first-year coach. There’s a feeling of resentment towards Meyer.
The two words used the most in conversations when talking about Meyer? Hate and hypocrisy. The former speaks for itself. The latter is how many of the Jaguar players described Meyer.
“He came in preaching values, family, and team. It’s been anything but since the start of training camp. He’s a phony and a hypocrite,” one source told me, adding, “we know who he is.”
Another source told me they don’t trust Meyer or believe in him or anything he says. Many of the players feel the struggles of Trevor Lawrence are the direct result of poor game plans and a bad system installed by the coach. As one source said, it’s not so much that the first overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft is playing badly. Rather, “they always put Trevor in a bad situation.”
Urban Meyer could be gone if the Jaguars don’t beat the Texans
Despite recent reports that Meyer will finish out the season, people close to the situation tell me it will be sooner rather than later for the rookie head coach. “He could get fired this week,” a source said. “If the Jaguars lose to a terrible Houston team next Sunday, I don’t see him surviving.”
Jacksonville has a home game against the Texans next week. Multiple people tell me they feel assistant head coach Charlie Strong has built momentum in the building and would be named interim head coach, as first reported by CBS Sports.
Meyer’s disastrous first year in Jacksonville
Meyer has been the target of criticism since the beginning of his tenure in Jacksonville. While hiring Meyer was surely a popular idea with a Florida fanbase that watched him win two collegiate National Championships with the Florida Gators (and one with Ohio State), he hasn’t seemed to acclimate well to the NFL.
Meyer hired Chris Doyle as a strength and conditioning coach after Doyle had been accused of bullying and making racist remarks at the University of Iowa. Doyle resigned one day after accepting the position. Meyer was also mocked for signing his former Gators QB Tim Tebow and giving him a chance as an NFL tight end.
On the field, things haven’t been any better. The Jaguars sit in last place in the AFC South with a 2-11 record. Entering Week 15, only the Texans have scored fewer points per game than Jacksonville. On defense, the Jags have given up the fourth-most points per contest.
Meyer’s coaching history
Before joining the Jaguars in 2021, Meyer enjoyed a storied coaching career in the college ranks. He ran a run-heavy variation of the spread offense at every school he coached but made tweaks toward the strengths of his personnel. Meyer finished his collegiate career with a 187-32 record, going 12-3 in bowl games. His .853 winning percentage is the third-highest in college football history.
After 13 years as an assistant, Meyer landed his first head-coaching gig at Bowling Green in 2001. In one year, he took the Falcons from 2-9 to an incredible 8-3, earning MAC Coach of the Year. The next season, Meyer’s squad went 9-3, parlaying his successful two years at Bowling Green into an opportunity at Utah.
In his first year with the Utes, the team finished with a 10-2 record after going 5-6 the season prior. Meyer’s second season with Utah was even more impressive, as the Utes went 12-0 and reached an AP Poll high of No. 4. He earned Mountain West Coach of the Year honors in both seasons. However, his most impressive achievement may have been turning Alex Smith into the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Following the 2004 season, Meyer left the west for the Sunshine State. With Chris Leak (2005-2006) and Tim Tebow (2007-2009) running the offense, Meyer’s Florida teams rattled off 57 victories to just eight losses in a five-year span, winning two BCS Championships (2006 and 2009) in the process.
Health and controversy at Florida
Meyer suffered from chest pains and occasionally severe headaches for years. The chest pains were later discovered to be caused by Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and the headaches were due to an arachnoid cyst. Meyer later explained that both developed due to high levels of stress throughout his life.
After taking a three-month leave of absence to focus on his health and family, Meyer returned to the Gators in March of 2010. However, Florida endured their worst season under him yet, going 7-5 in the regular season. On December 8, Meyer announced his retirement from coaching for the same reasons he took his leave of absence. However, what followed Meyer’s retirement were accusations of a toxic culture in the locker room.
Florida players stated that Meyer developed a “Circle of Trust,” made up of only the program’s stars. Additionally, those players received favorable treatment. Although Meyer stated responded by saying, “I’ve never heard of Circle of Trust before in my life,” former players contended it was the foundation of Florida’s culture during his time with the Gators.
Meyer’s time at Ohio State
After a two-year hiatus from coaching, Meyer was named Ohio State’s new head coach in 2012. From 2012 through 2018, the Buckeyes won 10 or more games in every season under Meyer and took home the 2014 National Championship. His offenses were consistently among the nation’s best, as they were at all of his previous stops.
But controversy once again followed Meyer. On August 1, 2018, Ohio State placed their head coach on paid administrative leave after reports surfaced that Meyer knew about spousal abuse allegations against assistant coach Zach Smith before his firing the week prior. Meyer was suspended from the first three games of the season and decided to retire before the team’s Rose Bowl appearance, citing health concerns.