Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A prominent college football coach makes the jump to the NFL and it goes poorly. Sounds familiar, right? Because it happens all the time. Nick Saban, Chip Kelly, and more have tried to make the jump and only a few have been able to turn their collegiate success into a successful NFL career. In fact, prior to Urban Meyer’s ascension to the Jaguars head coaching job, the list of previous NCAA coaches to make the leap didn’t have a great track record. Here’s a sample of some of these names.
- Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals 13-18-1
- Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans 52-48
- Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles 26-21
- Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-21
- Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers 44-19-1
- Bobby Petrino, Atlanta Falcons 3-10
- Nick Saban, Miami Dolphins 15-17
- Steve Spurrier, Washington Football Team 12-20
And now, we can add Urban Meyer to that list, as it appears his 2-11 season in Jacksonville is about to get even worse.
Reports have recently surfaced that paint a less than desirable picture of the Jaguars organization this season, as coaches and players are beginning to tire of Urban Meyer and his head coach stylings, both on-field and off.
Veterans leaving the Jaguars facility in protest, Meyer bad-mouthing his coaching staff and calling them “losers”, and to top it all off, there’s the juvenile mid-game benching of James Robinson. The Jacksonville Jaguars are burning down their own house, while locked inside with the man who lit the first match, Meyer himself.
Let’s look at this James Robinson situation, as an example of why Meyer is failing his NFL litmus test with flying colors.
James Robinson was signed by the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent ahead of the 2020 season. After proving himself worthy, Robinson was named the starting running back, an honor that was not lost in him by any means. The 2020 season could have been an absolute bust for the Jaguars as they trudged along, trying to land a high draft pick and hit the reset button, but Robinson was a revelation. With 10 total touchdowns on the season, and eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards, Robinson was poised to become a fan favorite and a solid running back, at little to no cost to the Jaguars. Simply put, Robinson was found money.
And then Urban Meyer took over control of the Jaguars. If you’ve watched a Jaguars game, you’ll understand that Urban Meyer loves using the bench as a motivational tool. If you don’t believe me, ask James Robinson about it. In Week 13, Meyer benched Robinson after fumbling on the Jaguars opening possession against the Rams. Carlos Hyde, the former 49ers back who also played for Meyer at Ohio State took over the rushing duties. When pressed about why he sat Robinson, Meyer told reporters that Robinson’s benching was “injury related.”
That was a lie.
In fact, after Robinson’s benching, Meyer instructed his running backs coach Bernie Parmalee to prevent Robinson from re-entering the game. It wasn’t until rookie QB and the Jaguars first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence called Meyer out on Robinson’s benching that he was allowed back in the game. When speaking to reporters the week following the 37-7 loss to the Rams, Lawrence did not hold back. “Bottom line is James is one of our best players and he’s got to be on the field and we addressed it,” Lawrence said. “I feel like we’re in a good spot and the whole team, we’re good.”
So what does this have to do with Meyer’s ability to coach an NFL team? Everything, but mainly that fact that Meyer doesn’t know the difference between a college player and a professional. In the NCAA, a coach can bench a player as a punishment, because that’s exactly what it is. It’s putting a player in timeout, and punishing them by removing their ability to play, to get out on the field and prove they belong in the NFL. College Football nowadays is all about getting playing time and proving your worth to NFL scouts. That’s it. It’s why the Transfer Portal is so active. Players need to be on the field. Benching is a tool for college coaches.
In the NFL, benching is no such thing. You’re going to bench one of your best players… to teach them a lesson? Cool. I’m glad “not trying to win the football game and field the best team possible” is a fantastic strategy. I can’t wait to see what teams get to the playoffs after punishing players for mistakes!
Instead, that kind of coaching mentality breeds contempt from the players. In the NFL, a head coach needs players on their side. Why do you think Bill Belichick and Tom Brady‘s names are always mentioned in the same sentence?Because they needed each other. In the college game, it’s the opposite. Players come and go, but a coach can be a legend at a school for decades.
So when Urban Meyer continues to act like a college coach, it starts to make sense as to why the professionals are having such a difficult time with him.
Even when he’s off the field, carousing at bars with young women after a huge loss, acting like it’s no big deal, the Jaguars personnel can see that. It’s apparent that Urban Meyer thought he was going to waltz into Jacksonville and get the Ohio State treatment. Not so much.
If the Jaguars truly want to put a competitive football team on the field and actually compete for the Lombardi Trophy, the conversation needs to be had about Meyer’s future with the team. Perhaps it’s time for someone to remind Meyer that this is the NFL, not Gainesville. The Jaguars do not need Urban Meyer the way that Florida and Ohio State did, but Meyer has failed to read the room.
Perhaps it’s time to kick Urban Meyer to the curb and call Eric M. Bieniemy, Jr.
- / 12 months ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.