With the regular season coming to an end this Sunday, it’s that time of the year where rumors begin to swirl around Urban Meyer and a return to coaching. The three-time National Champion has yet to make a jump to the NFL, but that hasn’t ever stopped teams from calling each offseason, and after a few years off the sidelines, many are speculating that his itch for the game may be returning.
On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that at least two teams have contacted Meyer regarding his willingness to potentially coach in the NFL. Given the Falcons are one of the few organizations that currently have a head coaching vacancy, it’s fair to assume they’ve at least ruffled the feathers on the idea of luring Meyer to Atlanta, but does Meyer to the Falcons make any sense… for either side?
Nobody can dispute Meyer’s coaching pedigree. He turned Utah into a force to be reckoned with before leaving for Florida and winning two national championships. His marriage with the Gators seemed like it would be a long-lasting one at the time, but he soon retired for health reasons (as far as we know). However, just a couple of years later, he was back on the sidelines with the Buckeyes, winning the 2015 National Championship before being forced to retire because of the infamous Zach Smith scandal. Meyer’s eery past off the field may be a red flag for some, but his success on the field is undeniable and has made him a dream candidate for almost any head coaching vacancy.
But let’s focus on why Meyer would even want to return to coaching. He doesn’t need the money; he’s made gobs of it over his career and currently has a tremendous gig with Fox Sports. He doesn’t have much left to prove except to the very few naysayers who believe that most college coaches couldn’t succeed in the NFL, but those trolls aren’t enough to bring him out of retirement. The only formula that would make Meyer return to coaching at the age of 56 is an undying love for the game and an ideal situation — the latter of which the Falcons are not.
Atlanta is nearing a fork in the road in their franchise’s history. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have provided us with the most successful era of Falcons football, but they are aging, and the new regime must decide whether it is time to tear it all down. On top of that, Atlanta is cap-strapped and has holes all over their roster. It will take a lot more than just a good head coach to turn this thing around. Why would Urban Meyer want to risk tarnishing his legacy by attempting to rebuild a Falcons team that has missed the playoffs in three straight seasons? Short answer — he wouldn’t.
Contrary to the 2015 offseason, when the Falcons hired Dan Quinn, there is nothing sexy about the job in Atlanta. It is going to take a ton of work from top to bottom to get them heading in the right direction quickly. That’s not what Urban Meyer is looking for, and with that in mind, Atlanta shouldn’t be looking for Urban Meyer.
If I’m the Falcons, I’m focusing my coaching search on hungry coaches looking to make their mark on this league. Ones that have proven they can develop young talent and aren’t afraid of taking a couple of lumps on their chin before experiencing some success. I would have no complaints if the Falcons worked out a deal with Meyer, but when looking at potential fits for him in the NFL, Atlanta has to be near the bottom of the list.
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