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December 8, 2010

Meyer decision about family

MORE ON THE SHAKEUP IN GAINESVILLE: Coaching Hot Board: Who will it be? | 4-star commit taking an official visit | Jordan talks commitment status | Meyer quitting, again | Wetzel: Meyer makes the right play | UF commit Waisome shocked | Jordan plans to stick with Florida

IN THE ALLEY: Prospect reaction | VOTE: Your choice to replace Meyer | UF 4-star commit sets two other official visits | What Meyer told the team | More from the team meeting - freshmen take it hard

In the end, it wasn't the team's poor record or his own health issues that caused Urban Meyer's sudden and shocking decision to quit as Florida Gators coach Wednesday.

It was, he said, his desire to be a better family man.

"I'm stepping down at the University of Florida to focus on family and my other interests away from the sidelines," the two-time national champion coach said during a press conference at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. "At the end of the day, I'm very convinced you're judged on how you are as a husband and a father, not how many bowl games we've won."

Last December, Meyer also quit as coach citing heath concerns, but a day later announced he had a change of heart. He later was diagnosed with having esophageal spasms, but after taking a brief leave of absence during the offseason went full go right back into coaching.

"To say there wasn't a [health] scare, that would be incorrect," Meyer said. "There was, but that's not the reason for this press conference today."

Meyer reiterated, the decision to quit was centered around his wife, Shelley, and three children -- daughters Nicole and Gigi, and son Nathan. Nicole Meyer plays volleyball for Georgia Tech. Gigi recently signed to play volleyball for Florida Gulf Coast.

"I've not seen my two girls play [in] high school," Meyer said. "So I missed those four years, missed two already with one away at college. I was blessed with a family that never missed anything. So I can't get that time back."

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said Meyer contacted him last Saturday.

"He indicated this was what he was thinking about," Foley said. "I was out of town. So when I came back here, I had a couple days to think about it and I wasn't totally surprised. I think he gave the indication during the season this wasn't what he wanted to do."

Meyer will coach his last game for the Gators in the Outback Bowl against. Penn State on Jan. 1 in Tampa.

"I have a great love for the University of Florida," Meyer said.

Meyer called his decision to quit last year , then abruptly return, a "knee-jerk reaction" brought about by his health scare (he was briefly hospitalized after having breathing issues). This time, there will be no change of heart, he insisted.

"The timing was not right [last year]," Meyer said. "I don't know if the timing is ever perfect. At least this way you can get a new coach on board and help recruiting and move forward. This year was just completely different. I'm doing what I think is best for the University of Florida, for our players and obviously for myself and my family."

Following Florida's loss to Florida State two weeks ago in the team's regular-season finale, which capped a disappointing 7-5 season, Meyer vowed to fix things. He said Wednesday that at that time he fully intended to return next season.

That changed, however, after having "some very deep family discussions"

Meyer, 46, is the country's winningest active coach (percentage) with 10 seasons or more, posting 103 victories against just 23 losses for a .817 winning percentage in his 10 seasons. He reached 100 wins in 118 games, the second-fastest number of games to reach the century mark since 1945. Overall, only five coaches reached the 100-win mark quicker.

He is the first coach in the history of the Football Bowl Subdivision to post back-to-back 13-win seasons (2008 and 2009) and is the only coach to record three 13-win seasons in a four-year span.

More important to Gator fans, he won national titles in 2006 and '08.

Leaving on a down note wasn't easy, Meyer admitted.

"I just think Florida deserves the best and I'm not sure we gave them our best this year," Meyer said.

Meyer met with Florida players at 2 p.m. By then, word of his resignation already had hit the web, most notably on Twitter. He described the meeting as "tough."

"Just like the year before, we were very supportive," senior center Mike Pouncey said. "We're good friends, and we always will be, too."

Florida president Bernie Machen, who not only hired Meyer at Florida, but also was president at Utah when Meyer coached there, praised the outgoing coach.

"Urban was hired because of his commitment to excellence, because of his integrity, and because of his commitment to his players," Machen said. "In every dimension, he has exceeded everything we could have hoped for. He took us to a new level."

What's next for Meyer, one of college football's highest-paid coaches? And will he coach again?

"I'll think about that later," Meyer said. "In the immediacy, no."


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