You will hear a lot about burnout in regards to Urban Meyer leaving Florida. However, it is becoming apparent that health factors, and that strain on his family, is the problem. Meyer spoke to the Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley and mentions how another coach who suffered chest pains concerned him;
"I'd try to back off a little bit but I can't do that. When I came to Florida, the chest pains were controlling my life. I'd see a guy every year and ask him, 'Why do I keep having these? Why does this keep happening?'
"I told Shelley after the 2006 championship that if we can get this program to the top and walk out of it with my health that's what I needed to do."
In the summer of 2007, reality hit when Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser died of a heart attack.
"After he went down, it really hit me," he said. "It got worse. I kept going in for tests and they said my heart was fine. But the pains kept coming.
"It got bad, real bad. I was on a lot of medication."
Prosser was seemingly healthy, but even healthy people can get heart attacks. Like Meyer, Prosser was a successful coach at three schools and played an up tempo offense that suited his personality. Both are Ohio guys (Prosser was born in Pittsburgh, buried in Cincinnati), as that region of the country produces great coaches like they used to produce steel.
What is most amazing to me is that Meyer has been experiencing this level of stress nearly his entire UF career, with no other outlet. He has internalized everything as not to inflame his brain cyst. While Nick Saban might release by yelling or Steve Spurrier by playing golf, Meyer does neither. Yet, as his body broke down, the responsibility of the job kept him going.
For those of us who live and breathe the University of Florida, we should be grateful that Meyer kept plugging along. The term sacrifice is thrown around and Florida fans will be guilty of overstating Meyer for the next few weeks, but all signs point to Meyer being consumed by his job. That is not to say that Mack Brown isn't consumed by Texas or Randy Shannon is lazy in Miami. Each coach handles losses and stress differently. Florida fans can take some pride in that Meyer took every game personally, that he wasn't just a mercenary that parachuted into Gainesville.
As we said this morning, Meyer's mind is willing, but the body is not able. He still is a coach and the same passion he has for his family makes him a good coach. By leaving now, and at the top of his game, Meyer is making the tough decision to leave money and success on the table. He is making the smart decision for his family and that is the only constant he has had in his life.
Meyer now has time to get healthy, but will remain connected to the program as he states in Dooley's piece. I see him acting as sort of a General Manager, assisting with personnel, not X's and O's. But that influence should be determined by the new coach, as well. Meyer's next decision will come in a few years, when someone comes calling with a bag of cash or his son wants to go to college or Florida turns to him again. In the meantime, he needs to fix his body.