Pulling an Urban
Urban Meyer, who turned 46 in July, is hardly the first football coach to step away at a relatively young age. Here's a look at some other memorable instances when coaches abruptly resigned while seemingly in the middle of their careers.
It's still hard to believe Madden was only 42 when he left the Raiders after 10 highly successful seasons in 1978. Health issues and a fear of flying forced him to quit, and he never returned to the sideline. Instead, he became one of football’s most famous broadcasters.
It seems surprising that Walsh was just 57 when he left the 49ers in 1988 after 10 years and three Super Bowl victories. He wasn't through with coaching. He returned in 1992 to coach Stanford for three seasons before, again, leaving the sideline for good.
This appears to be the coach most similar to Urban Meyer. Citing burnout, Vermeil tearfully retired in 1982 after being the coach of the Eagles for seven seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance. He was 46, just like Meyer. Vermeil would sit out 15 years before he shocked everyone by returning to the Rams in 1997. He led the Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV and then abruptly quit again. But he wasn't done. He sat out only one season then returned to coach the Chiefs for four seasons before finally retiring, apparently for good, at age 70.
The brash former University of Miami coach was only 50 when he resigned as coach of the Cowboys in 1993 despite winning consecutive Super Bowls. But his retirement was partly sparked by his inability to have a good working relationship with owner Jerry Jones. Johnson did return to take over for Don Shula with the Dolphins in 1996. But that stint lasted only four seasons, and his coaching days were over at age 56.
The legendary Vikings coach surprisingly retired at age 56 after a stellar run of 12 postseason appearances and four trips to the Super Bowl from 1967-83. He ended up taking only a year off and returned to the Vikings in 1985. But his second stint lasted just one season, and he walked away from coaching forever.
Gibbs was only 52 when he retired from the Redskins following the 1992 season after 12 seasons that included three Super Bowl victories. Gibbs went off to run his NASCAR team. He eventually returned to the Redskins in 2004 to coach four seasons before calling it quits after the 2007 season.