The Jacksonville Jaguars burst onto every major headline this offseason, but it wasn’t the result of taking one of the most anticipated quarterbacks to ever come out of college football in Trevor Lawrence, it was instead due to the hiring of well renowned NCAA mastermind, Urban Meyer, as the NFL franchise’s next head coach. With the league finishing up Week 2 of the 2021 season, Urban Meyer’s name is already being thrown around like a hot potato, and none of the words said are in a positive light. What follows is a look into why Meyer may be coaching in the first and last NFL season of his career.
“Good Soldiers Follow Orders” ~ the 501st
Not everyone can transfer their play from the college level to the pros, and that much is especially true for coaches. In college, particularly with football, coaches are granted untethered control of their program, which they use to establish a culture and lifestyle that the players are molded to live by. Urban Meyer is one of the greatest culture-setting coaches in the business. During the seven years spent coaching at Ohio State alone, his relentless focus on his team performing “Above the Line”, as he calls it, required players to perform with intention, purpose, and with skill, as opposed to “Below the Line”, which entails players performing impulsively, moving on auto-pilot, and resistant. Because of the superior power and control that he possessed in his program, he was able to lead his team to an 83-9 record, winning three Big Ten championships, and a National Championship in 2014. As an NCAA head coach, it’s quite literally your way or the highway. In the NFL, however, you don’t have half of the amount of control as you did in college. In the NFL, you’re no longer developing 18-20-year-olds; kids who still need their parents to send them an allowance. You’re now leading grown men who make millions of dollars because they’re the best at what they do and they have the ability to make their own decisions. What’s a college coach going to tell a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers-caliber player that they don’t already know? What’re you going to do when your player just changes your play-call in the huddle? Nothing. Because they don’t need you the same way college players do. It’s a different lifestyle and it’s not made for everyone, even for someone like Nick Saban from Alabama. One stint with the Dolphins was all he needed to be convinced it’s beyond his limits, and it’s looking to be beyond Urban Meyer’s.
“Everyone Wave! Parents Too!”
If there’s one type of coach that does the opposite of rally the boys, it’s a yeller. There’s a time and a place where screaming in a guy’s face is warranted, but for that to be your only response is beyond destructive. Urban Meyer’s fabled coaching style is about building insurmountable trust between player and coach. Well, nothing brings people together like a good ole fashioned shouting match. As an athlete who’s dealt with a coach who doesn’t have an inside voice, it’s impossible to be able to receive a bombardment of spit and insults from them and then be expected to subconsciously go the extra mile for them when they haven’t done anything for you. According to CBS NFL writer Jason La Canfora, multiple sources speak of Urban Meyer reaching boiling point over trivial matters that had happened in preseason games. Games that carry zero weight on the season. Other reports detail a ridiculous short-temper and lack of patience and confidence in a crew he “handpicked” when events don’t go according to plan. For a guy preaching trust and confidence in one another, “calling their job security into question” prior to the regular season beginning isn’t the choice option to gain a following. On top of it all, the lack of experience in the role is so apparent, that morale has never been lower according to La Canfora and it has guys “looking over their shoulders” every day. In the NFL, if you treat your team as second-class for not producing results despite your own negligence, the team and fans are going to wave goodbye to Juice Box.
Though Urban Meyer has been quick to suppress any notion of leaving the Jacksonville Jaguars for another opportunity in college, his name has been tossed into the hat for the coaching job at USC. The Trojans dismissed Clay Helton and are initializing their first head coach search in nearly 8 years, and it would be naive to say that Meyer has “no chance” of looking into the opportunity. Southern California is in desperate need of a winning coach who can light up the program towards the national spotlight along with the likes of Georgia, Michigan, Clemson, and other big-name schools. He’s made it desperately clear that he’s “committed” to the Jaguars and to their future in a hopeless plea to the fanbase, but words can only get you so far. The Jags don’t just have an 0-2 record, but they’ve been utterly helpless against their competition thus far. If this is on par for Jacksonville in 2021+, Urban Meyer will return to college. As mentioned before, the NFL isn’t for everyone, and he’s indicating that he falls into that category.