Was Urban Meyer a mercenary or a real Gator?

One of the things I have had a hard time reconciling with in the past few week is what to think of Urban Meyer's legacy. I don't think many fans think the same way, but I'm sure some do. After all, Meyer came in and restored glory and respect to something we hold very dearly. But his final season was essentially spent in cruise control, or worse, Meyer never gave the effort expected of his position to maintain Florida Football in 2010. 

College football's constant movement of coaches limits any sort of loyalty a fan base can or should have with a head coach. In the case of Meyer, who had been job hopping until he came to Florida, he was a hired gun assigned to rebuild one team after another. When he came to Florida, maybe he was finally committed to a school. But by resigning, after a season like the last, was the commitment to himself or to the University?

It is a slippery slope to get on, but I think everything Meyer did at Florida was a sign that his only concern was his own status. Had he bought into becoming part of the University, he wouldn't have allowed so many players to play following legal issues, when a student under the same circumstances would face a significant punishment. Additionally, had he bought into becoming part of Gainesville, he would have been to more of his kids' ballgames, instead of needing a FHP trooper to chaperone him to those games. Folks in town are not going to harass you at the Little League field if you're there each week. And coaching at a SEC school sure as hell was not the reason why Meyer missed so many of his kids' games. 

I don't blame Meyer for leaving, especially if it is for family reasons. But you have to be pretty blind to what is around you if you don't realize what the University and Gainesville could have offered. This is the part I keep coming back to. For those of us who lived in and went to school in Gainesville, it felt like the town always had you in an embrace. It's the reason why so many of us look for any excuse to return for a weekend. The only way Meyer missed this was if he was so consumed by his job that he never realized what situation he had fallen into. Meyer only had to look at the Donovan family, who moved grandparents and aunts and uncles from Long Island to Gainesville, to understand how the community takes in outsiders and makes them into lifers. 

Is there honor then in essentially having tunnel vision and getting Florida two National Championships and buckets of revenue at a time when every cent matters? Sure, if you really think the only way for Florida to win those titles was for Meyer to work himself into a frenzy. For those of us who need Gatorade to wash out the sour taste left by the 2010 season, eventually we'll get over it. If Meyer stays retired, the years will be much kinder to his legacy and we'll forget about all this, just as we have forgotten about Billy Donovan going to the Magic. If Meyer stays in town and embraces a community that we have all loved, then he can be a real Gator.

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