If you solely focus on on-field performance and set aside the racist strength coach or Tim Tebow’s brief appearance, Urban Meyer’s tenure as Jacksonville Jaguars head coach has so far consisted of one humiliating 37-21 defeat by the castoffs of the Houston Texans. (The final score would’ve been 37-14 if not for a garbage-time touchdown with five seconds remaining.) With USC firing Clay Helton on Monday after two games—let’s try to put this in the least passive way possible—there has been unfounded speculation that Meyer could pull a Bobby Petrino and leave his NFL gig to build another college program in his image. That was shot down today with a very convincing denial:
The intrepid reporter who laid that one up was hoping to be swatted down. Who asked it, Ariel Helwani? Actually, it wasn’t even in the form of a question. “Unfortunately for you, some rumors came out yesterday connecting you to the USC job. Just wanted to give you the opportunity to refute it, put it to bed.” Meyer’s answer was equally as sharp: “No chance. I’m here and committed to trying to build this organization.” Warning: Your screen might not be able to handle all this energy!
Hypothetically, to pick between the two, keeping a job with the Jaguars seems more appealing than leaving for the Trojans. Right now Meyer has low expectations, an undisclosed but presumably lofty salary, and a highly coveted quarterback prospect in Trevor Lawrence. Even in the most humiliating of outcomes this season, it’s hard to think that ownership wouldn’t give him a second year to turn things around. The Jaguars would be thrilled with anything in the range of a .529 winning percentage, and Week 1 performance aside, the AFC South has some pretty beatable competition. If he went to USC, Meyer would have to deal with recruiting, a program rebuild, and an NCAA system different than when he was at Ohio State. The transfer portals are more active, and players can make a little money now. While choosing the Jaguars over USC seems like a smart pick for those who are wise and lazy, it’s important to keep in mind that Meyer, as a football coach, is not a normal man. He might not be able to handle one month, much less a season, of looking like a failure. The Buckeyes lost a total of nine games in his seven seasons.
But why is this possibility being discussed in the first place? Could it be that the introduction of the Urban Meyer Postgame Physical has riveted the nation to the point where it has sparked a conversation on the coach’s job status? I can’t say for sure, but yes. Another explanation is that at this point in his career, or life, no one trusts Urban Meyer. And why should they? There are many, many things that reflect poorly on this man, but boy, it does not speak well of his prior decisions that a significant percentage of the public already thinks he’s the type of person who would ditch a coaching job after one game. It’s also not encouraging in the long term that the Jaguars would feel the need today to declare that all is well:
Meyer’s denial only happened today because on Tuesday, the team did not make him available for a call. Amy Palcic, the formerly beloved Houston Texans flack who now works for the Jaguars, said she made the decision to keep the coach away from the media. That might have been a smart move, but not for the reason she intended. Each time he talks, it’s worth less.