NEW ORLEANS — When he announced on Monday his plans to take an indefinite leave of absence, Florida coach Urban Meyer said he would seek advice from longtime coaches such as Steve Spurrier on how to better balance life and coaching.
CBS analyst Gary Danielson said Meyer should also take a serious look at the lives and careers of FSU's Bobby Bowden and Penn State's Joe Paterno.
"If I was Urban Meyer what I would do before I came back is sit down with Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno and ask, 'What's the secret?' " Danielson said. "You guys have been in the middle of college football for all these years; you still have so much joy and intensity for it. What am I not seeing?' What Bobby brought was — yes he was intense, yes he built his team to compete at the highest level — but he always had an outside interest. Whether it was his golf or his speaking or his family vacations, he could get away from it. Same with Joe with the library and raising money.
"These young coaches who have worked their way up need to find an alternative in their life besides family and football. When they are with football they think they miss their family. When they are with their family they think they miss football."
Meyer will coach the Gators in Friday's Sugar Bowl against his alma mater, Cincinnati, then will step away to spend more time with his family and focus on his health, he said. He has suffered from anxiety-type chest pains often over the past several years.
Meyer was hospitalized several hours after a loss in the Dec. 5 SEC Championship Game after suffering chest pains. In the 911 tape obtained by ESPN, Meyer's wife, Shelley, told dispatchers he awoke around 4 a.m., tried to get out of bed, then fell to the floor. Shelley Meyer said he had been taking the sleeping pill Ambien. He was breathing and had a pulse but she could not awaken him. Meyer originally told reporters he checked himself into the hospital and was treated for dehydration.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit described Meyer as "emotional" and "distraught" when he spoke with him Saturday night shortly after Meyer announced his resignation. Sunday's about face of an indefinite leave indicates even Meyer probably doesn't know what he's ultimately going to do. Herbstreit said he believes Meyer and the Gators are trying to salvage this year's recruiting class while buying the coach some time to sort things out.
"The only thing I can think of is, for him to go there 15 hours later, 'Hey I'm gonna stay, just take an indefinite leave,' the only thing left to believe is that Florida's just trying to get through this bowl game and get through recruiting and let him make a real decision after he's had some time to think about it," Herbstreit said. "Does it put Florida in a tough position? Absolutely. You think Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban and Randy Shannon are talking to recruits about this? My guess is yeah."
EMOTIONALLY SPENT: Wednesday's practice at the Superdome marked the final full practice for UF seniors. The usually emotional "Senior Tackle" drill in which players can individually express their sentiments about their collegiate experience was much more subdued, players said.
"I think there have been so many emotional things over the last few days, this gets downplayed," senior QB Tim Tebow said. "It's still really special, but at least there wasn't as much crying and stuff that has been going on the last few days."
Antonya English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.