Less than 24 hours after he resigned, Florida
coach Urban Meyer is instead taking an indefinite leave of absence
that opens the door for his return to the Gators.
A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on
Sunday that Meyer has changed his mind. The person spoke on
condition of anonymity because the school had made no announcement.
Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio will run the team during
Meyer's absence, a second person close to the situation told the
Meyer is to speak at a news conference in New Orleans on Sunday.
On Saturday night, he shocked college football when he said he was
stepping down after five seasons as Gators coach because of health
After the Southeastern Conference championship game three weeks
ago, he spent several hours in a Gainesville, Fla., hospital
because of chest pains.
The University of Florida student newspaper, The New York Times
and ESPN.com first reported Meyer's change of plans.
The person familiar with Meyer's decision said the coach was
with his players at a short practice on campus Sunday and realized
he wasn't quite ready to call it quits.
"There's no guarantees here," the person said. "He could
still walk away. He's got some significant concerns about his
health and his tank and his family. But instead of cutting the
cord, he's going to take a step back and see how he feels."
The 45-year-old Meyer will coach No. 5 Florida against
Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.
He is 56-10 with Florida, including 32-8 in the SEC and a
school-record 22-game winning streak that was snapped by the
Crimson Tide in the conference title game on Dec. 5.
"I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football
and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have
dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the
Gator football program," Meyer said in a statement Saturday. "I
have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have
forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family."
Last month, Sports Illustrated chronicled Meyer's coaching
career and reported that he suffered from persistent headaches
caused by a cyst that becomes inflamed by stress, rage and
Meyer told the magazine that since the diagnosis in the early
2000s he has tried to stay composed during games.
A tireless recruiter and creative motivator, Meyer came to
Florida from Utah in fall 2004 amid speculation he would end up at
Meyer brought most of his staff with him - some of whom worked
with him at Bowling Green (2001-02) and Utah (2003-04). Together,
they restored the program to national prominence two years later
with the school's second national championship.
The Gators upset Ohio State 41-14 in Glendale, Ariz.; they won
another one last January by beating Oklahoma 24-14 in Miami.
With just about his entire team returning this fall, Meyer spent
all season coaching under intense pressure and sky-high
expectations. He said he welcomed it all as the defending national
champions tried to become just the second team in the last 14 years
But the season was far from smooth. Florida dealt with
distraction after distraction, prompting Meyer to call it "the
year of stuff."
Meyer is married with three children - the oldest recently
started college at Georgia Tech - and has said repeatedly he
planned to leave coaching to spend more time with his family.