Urban Meyer has been taking a beating in Florida since he left his self-imposed retirement for The Ohio State University. The guy who was once revered in Florida now seems to be quite the villain.
There was that Sporting News story that detailed a climate of favoritism toward star players that went too far at Florida. Nobody in Gainesville disputed the facts of the story, and Meyer addressed the issues by not really addressing them. Then he concentrated on his new team.
There was this Gainsville TV interview with ex-Gators running back Chris Rainey, who said several things about Florida under Meyer. Included: “Some players got rewarded more. Some players were favorites.” And: ”Certain players, even the coaches were scared of.” Among them: Percy Harvin, the revered Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes and Karlos Dunlap.
Aside from Tebow, this group was part of a large one that found trouble at Florida. Rainey himself was arrested for sending a threatening message to a woman via text. Meyer suspended him for four games.
David Whitley of The Sporting News lambastes Meyer for tolerating nonsense without discipline. Among Whitley’s points: Rainey was one of the guys Meyer referred to who got in trouble whom Meyer called “great kids.”
Wrote Whitley: “Public pressure forced Meyer to suspend Rainey four games. But the Father Flanagan of college football still thought his prized running back was a great kid. Just like the other 30 great kids who were arrested during Meyer’s tenure. Great players can do no wrong, according to the Book of Urban. But now a great one is throwing other greats under the bus.”
At one point in his interview, Rainey says he did not see but he heard about an incident when Harvin choked an assistant coach, and was not disciplined. “They’re good in sports,” Rainey said of players like Harvin. “And you just can’t do nothing about it.”
In other words, the better they played the more they got away with. Something about winning and everything comes to mind.
Meyer has admitted that the guys who perform will get better treatment at Ohio State. It’s part of his scheme. He also has said some of his disciplinary issues at Florida have been overexaggerated, and he addressed problems.
But the disparity in feeling between the positives in Columbus to the vile in Florida is striking.
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel wrote that Meyer is “disingenuous” and took him to task for, among other things, taking an ESPN job soon after saying he was retiring to spend more time with his family. Adds Bianchi: “Here we are not even one year down the road and already we see Urban Liar for what he truly is: Urban Hypocrite.”
Finally, there’s this editorial cartoon by Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal: