TAMPA — Former Florida coach Urban Meyer, now a college football analyst for ESPN, was the keynote speaker Wednesday at the Outback Bowl kickoff luncheon, and he spoke with reporters about his job and how much he misses coaching.
Your name continues to be linked to jobs, even if there's a coach in place, whether it be Ohio State or Penn State. How do you deal with the speculation?
I have to show respect for coaches that have jobs. Most of those programs have coaches. When rumors are out there — last week, a guy hit me with something, "Did you meet with so and so?" Of course not. I don't know how those things get printed, just, "Source says." Who's your source? A guy walking down the street? Those things bother me, but it comes with the job, I guess.
If you went back to coaching, it would have to be with a sense of balance between work and home life. How hard is that?
If I ever went back, I'd have to get back a little bit of balance I used to have. I don't know if I'm there yet. I went off the deep end. When I first went to Florida, my first Tennessee game, first SEC game, my son (Nathan) was playing that (Friday) night, was going to pitch. I'm in a hotel. I looked at the police officers: "I can't take this. Will you get in a car and drive me to go watch my son pitch?" Everybody thought I was nuts. I'm not going to let a job consume me. I think it did. I would have never done that at the end. I was so consumed about perfection. We created a monster. If I ever did get back, I would not let that control my life.
Does that come down to delegating as a head coach?
It's discipline, personal discipline. You've got to hire great people, but I can blame everybody else I want. At the end of the day, you have to have discipline: go work out, eat right, still have balance in your life. What I've experienced, because I do a lot of public speaking now, don't think I'm a lone wolf that has that issue. Guys right here have that issue, balancing that. You can blame your job, you can blame your boss, you can blame the media. At the end of the day, it's you that has to take a hold of that thing. I didn't do that.
How much can you sympathize with what Will Muschamp has faced in losing to LSU and Alabama?
I actually sent Will a text today. Octobers are tough in Gainesville. That schedule is not going to change. That four-to-five-week period makes or breaks you. Everything is available for them, to win that SEC East and get to Atlanta. That's the goal.
Family was a prominent part of why you stepped away from coaching; how much time have you been able to spend with your wife and children with your duties at ESPN?
Sunday, I was at Georgia Tech and saw my daughter (Nikki) play (volleyball). Monday, I was with my son for his 12-year-old football. Today I'm driving down to Fort Myers tonight to watch my other daughter (Gigi at Florida Gulf Coast) play. Sunday after my Michigan game, I'm flying to Miami to watch Nikki play again. I've seen more volleyball, baseball and football in two months than I have in six years. That part of it I love.
Are you able to watch your old team play? Has it been difficult to watch them take the last two losses they've taken?
I've not seen a lot of them. I still talk to guys, still go into the office once a week. It is strange. I pull for them. I still bleed with them. When (quarterback) Johnny Brantley hurt his ankle (against Alabama), just when they were really coming on, where they could go in to score there and make a game of that. A team like Alabama, they're loaded. You need to make a couple of plays, all the sudden you're in the fourth quarter and you find a way to win it. I really believe that would have happened if they'd stayed healthy. … They have a kid (quarterback Jacoby Brissett) who was redshirting on Tuesday and started at LSU. They just played back-to-back No. 1 teams in America. They're fine. They have to go find a way to beat Auburn, get to Atlanta, win the SEC East. They certainly can do that.