Rumors are running rampant that Urban Meyer, who retired from football after an uninspired 2010 season with the University of Florida, is ready to return to coaching after a one year self imposed exile and his destination appears to be the reclaimation project of THE Ohio State University.
For Gator fans, its a trying time. The Florida football program has gone through a tough transition from Meyer's dominant teams. Meyer's should-I-stay-or-should-I-go routine hurt recruiting and his lack of passion on the sidelines in his final season led to an underwhelming performance by his football team.
Once Meyer finally retired, many in Gator Nation felt he did a disservice to the school in staying an extra season when it was obvious his heart really wasn't in it.
Meyer walked away from a multi-million dollar contract and a secure position in Gainesville. With two National Championships under his belt, Meyer had punched his ticket for life, but failing health and family concerns seemed to force his hand. After flirting with retirement the year before, Meyer finally left the Gators.
Rather than search for a Meyer clone, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley took the school in a radically different direction, hiring Will Muschamp as head coach. Muschamp then hired former Notre Dame Head Coach and Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to take the Florida offense away from Meyer's option-spread and to a Pro style.
The growing pains have been apparent, with Florida struggling to a 6-5 record this season.
Meanwhile, Meyer has spent his Saturdays not with family but pontificating for ESPN on all things college football.
Now, as Muschamp's struggling rookie year comes to a close, Meyer is apparently ready to return to coaching.
So should Florida fans feel betrayed by Meyer?
You can certainly understand the sentiment. In a sense, Florida made Urban Meyer. The Gators had won a National Championship with Steve Spurrier, so its not like nothing happened in Gainesville before Meyer. Before arriving in Gainesville, Meyer spent two seasons at Bowling Green and two seasons at Utah. He chose Florida over Notre Dame, whom he had previously referred to as his "dream job".
In just his second year at Florida, his Gators upset Ohio State to claim the school's second National Championship. The following season, Notre Dame came calling again but once more, Meyer turned them down.
The next two seasons, Meyer and his quarterback Tim Tebow filled Gator fans with some amazing memories, consecutive 13-1 seasons and another National Championship.
After the 2009 campaign, Meyer announced he was retiring and then a couple days later backtracked, saying he changed his mind.
Still, you could tell the passion for Florida football just wasn't there for Meyer during the 2010 season. He lacked the fire Gator fans were used to seeing on the sidelines from their coach.
Sources in Gainesville also say Meyer didn't do anything in recruiting for the 2009-10 recruiting period, causing Florida to lose some recruits they sought after.
It was time for him to make his exit and he did.
Now, just one year after hitting the eject button on Gator Nation, Meyer is making ovetures to Ohio State.
So the question begs to be asked - were the concerns of his health and family really his motivating factor or had Meyer tired of life in Gainesville and sought other challenges?
What has changed in Meyer in the past year that makes the health and family concerns suddenly go away?
Its no secret Meyer hails from Ohio and has always had an affinity for Ohio State. I don't think there was any grand design in him leaving Florida and now entertaining a position with the Buckeyes.
I think Meyer truly was burned out and in his season away from the game I believe he learned how much he truly loves it.. Like many coaches, he's addicted to the competition. With Muschamp fully established as the new coach at Florida, there wasn't really any way he could return to Gainesville.
When the scandal in Ohio State took flight and cost John Cooper his job, opportunity presented itself.
Ohio State needs Urban Meyer more than Meyer needs Ohio State. With Penn State's position coming open, who knows what other options Meyer may have?
I'd expect OSU to move quickly on Meyer, pay him handsomely and Meyer to say all the right things.
It may not sit well with Gator fans but that's life in the coaching ranks.