Could Urban Meyer return to college after Jaguars firing? It’s complicated

Urban Meyer lasted just 13 games as a NFL head coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Meyer’s tenure ended in typical scandalous fashion. The Jaguars are 2-11. The accelerated timeline of failure featured viral videos in Ohio bars and allegations Meyer kicked Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo for missing field goals in practice. This experiment failed in quick time, and Meyer likely will never be a NFL head coach again. 

We all know the follow-up question: Would Meyer, 57, return to college football in the future?

After all, Meyer lasted 13 seasons in the Power 5 between stops at Florida and Ohio State. Throw in the two-year stints at Bowling Green and Utah, and Meyer finished with a 187-32 record as a FBS coach. That .854 winning percentage is the third-highest mark of all time. 

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Is this the end of the road for Meyer? That’s possible. On Oct. 6, Action Network’s Brett McMurphy reported that 85% of Power 5 athletic directors would not consider hiring Meyer for the 2022 season. Meyer did not express interest in returning to college football this year, and he could always return to the studio. He was a hit on FOX’s “Big Noon Kickoff.”

So what about 2023? Or 2024? Meyer’s name will be tossed around when college football openings come up. The difference is Meyer would have to accept that the stage will be smaller if he resurfaces in the college game. 

Nick Saban went 15-17 with the Miami Dolphins from 2005-06. He built the most-successful college football dynasty of the modern era at Alabama after leaving the NFL. 

Steve Spurrier lasted two seasons with Washington in the NFL with a disappointing 12-20 record from 2002-03. After a year off, Spurrier took the South Carolina job when he was 60 years old. He led the Gamecocks to its best stretch in school history and an 86-49 record over 11 seasons.

Bobby Petrino had a disastrous 3-10 stint with the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and an unceremonious exit from Arkansas in 2011. He’s coached at Western Kentucky, Louisville and Missouri State since. 

Meyer’s career is a mash-up of sorts of those three coaches. He won national championships at two different programs like Saban. He is a larger-than-life presence and creates enemies along the way like Spurrier. He’s had embarrassing scandals like Petrino. 

But those guys love to coach. Spurrier coached in the AAF in 2019. It’s what they do, and it’s why a college will call Meyer in the future. That leads to three questions.

Will Meyer want back in? Never underestimate ego with a hyper-successful coach. Meyer’s name was mentioned when USC and LSU had openings in this round of the coaching carousel. Texas was believed to be hunting Meyer last year. Meyer could take a year or two off then look to return to the college game, where he has won at every stop. 

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Will the college game want him back? The game has changed with NIL, the transfer portal and an expanding movement to give more power to the athletes. Meyer was an old-school coach who produced results in the BCS and CFP eras, but will that message still resonate given the exits at Florida, Ohio State and now Jacksonville? Imagine if Meyer kicked a college kicker? There is a high toxicity level around Meyer that will be there for a few years. 

What will the stage look like if Meyer does return? It might not be a national-championship ready program like Texas, and that is the hitch in this return. It’s difficult to see Meyer going the same route as Spurrier, who built South Carolina into an SEC contender. It took six years to win the SEC East. Could you see Meyer taking a job at UCLA, West Virginia or NC State? 

No. Meyer needs to be in the spotlight and in charge of a program that is in the national championship hunt. That might not happen, but we’re just not ready to rule it out. 

Why? Meyer went down in the NFL in spectacular fashion in 13 games. 

College is he where he could re-emerge as a winner. 

There are 13 years of proof to back that up.