The college football coaching carousel is in full swing. On Sunday we saw Lincoln Riley bolt from Oklahoma to USC, and Notre Dame has lost head coach Brian Kelly to LSU.
Riley’s move was surprising but honestly he peaked in Norman, getting close to winning it all but not sealing the deal. Now he’s landed at one of the top five jobs in college football.
As for Kelly, he’s also heading to another elite job at LSU, although Notre Dame isn’t too shabby. The attraction of the SEC Conference, the challenge of recruiting against the giants in CFB for five-star recruits and the reported 10-year, $95M deal, was too much for Kelly to refuse.
With all these power moves one has to wonder what will happen in South Bend. Current Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has always said coaching the “Golden Domers” has been his dream job.
Urban Meyer says Notre Dame is "still my dream job; that hasn't changed." Meyer to Notre Dame would make the USC rivalry interesting again.
— USC Football News (@USCFootballNews) December 12, 2008
Meyer Once Chose Florida Over Notre Dame
In 2004-2005, Meyer was the free agent catch of college football coaches. He’d just led unheralded Utah to an undefeated season and had his pick of the litter, with Florida and Notre Dame both vying for his services. The college football world assumed that Meyer was coming to South Bend.
“I’m Irish-Catholic, I grew up a Notre Dame fan. I spent six years there, where my son was baptized at Notre Dame. We love it there,” Meyer told Colin Cowherd in an interview in 2019.
The Gators shocked the world and altered the power structure in college football by offering more years and money (seven years and $14 million). In retrospect, that’s chump change by today’s inflated standards. But Meyer was insistent that it wasn’t about the money. It was about Florida having the better roster.
“I felt Florida had the better roster,” Meyer recalls. They had Chris Leak coming back, they had Chad Jackson, they had Bubba Caldwell. I did my homework? You get one swing and I think the best chance to win is going to be at the University of Florida.”
Meyer won two national championships at Florida (2006 and 2008) before leaving following the 2010 season.
Meyer Could Pull A Nick Saban: Escape The NFL After One Season
In 2006 Nick Saban became the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, only to leave following just one 8-8 season. He left to take the Alabama Crimson Tide job and has subsequently built a dynasty.
Things haven’t gone smoothly for Meyer in Jacksonville on or of the field. He started with a scandal and viral video that did nothing for his brand or his standing within the locker room. With each loss he looks like a year of his life dwindled away.
While Meyer is adamant that he’ll never return to college, that was before the his “dream job” at Notre Dame suddenly became available again, thanks to the ambitions of Brian Kelly.
Only Urban Meyer would bench his best player in James Robinson for the rest of the 1st half after a fumble. Then in the 2 minute drill when Meyer needs Robinson he can't play him because he benched him? Wtf #ATLvsJAX #urbanmeyer #jaguars #nfl #jags pic.twitter.com/kjMbVk2IKU
— Catch My Drift (@CatchMyDriftPod) November 28, 2021
Meyer previously denounced the idea in an interview with Peter King of NBC Sports;
“Zero chance at that happening,” Meyer saisd in reference tot he chance he bolts from the NFL after one tough season. What Coach Saban went through, I don’t know. That’s Coach Saban’s business. I’m not quite sure. At some point, I might talk to him about it … he’s a friend of mine and I got great respect for him. It is different. It is completely different. My mind is set. There’s gonna be some losses … that’s gonna be miserable. I hate losing. We all do. But the reality is you’re gonna lose. Hopefully you win more than you lose. But that’s something that’s gonna be new to me. I have to get my mind right and I’m working on that.”
Coaches like Meyer and Saban need to have full autonomy, and that’s something you lose a lot of when you take an NFL job. Just maybe the sting of losing and the media ridicule becomes too overwhelming for Meyer and he decides to take his dream job. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility and the way coaches switch jobs at a whim these days, Meyer could be out of Jacksonville by 2022. Imagine the USC/ND rivalry with Meyer and Lincoln Riley on the sidelines? That’s college football at its highest level of branding.
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