It is difficult to write about a coach you have photographed for so many games in so many cities and in so many scenarios when you know they are not truly leaving the game of college football.
Urban Meyer made legendary status in Gainesville, especially by the journalists who cover him, in such a short tenure. It is odd thinking that his six years as a Gator has a record that is comparable to other coach's entire careers.
I am no sports writer. For anyone that follows my spastic blogging knows that my writing is filled with pictures and videos, because that is the best way I know how to tell a story. So writing a blog on a person who many professional journalists find difficult to write about is going to be a stretch.
I met Urban Meyer for the first time in the dreamiest of fashions. I was a freshman at the University of Florida, and it was my first day on campus before summer classes had started. On my way to the parking office to pick up my parking pass for the semester, I saw a man in a gray T-shirt and blue shorts jogging toward me. It was Urban Meyer, and I had no idea what to say. So I instinctively reverted to the cheesy commercials I saw on TV about UF, looked Urban in the eyes and said, “Go Gators,” he then repeated the phrase.
For coach Meyer to be the first person I run into on campus as a freshman was a treat. I felt special, and despite how he will be remembered as a hard coach, difficult to work with or even a pain in the ass - Urban Meyer has a way of making you feel important. This has been said by his players, recruits and anyone affiliated with Gator football.
Two-and-a-half years later, I watched a family walk off a football field after one of the most difficult wins I’ve ever seen while covering the Gators. It was a family of Meyers, players and staff.
Coach Meyer stepped down from his coveted position to spend more time with his family, and I could not agree more with his decision. In the past year, I have traveled over 50,000 miles, spend countless nights in random hotels working far from home. This is minuscule compared to the year Urban Meyer has had.
Anyone who knows college football knows of Urban Meyer. They also know of his health problems, resignations and returns to the game.
Covering Gator football is a roller-coaster ride that seems to never end. Each time my iPhone goes off it could be a friend calling to meet for lunch or a new breaking story from the Gators. Both are normal in my life; especially when it comes to working with coach Meyer.
It will be sad to see him leave Florida Field, but like all programs, there will always be another game no matter who is leading the team out of the tunnel.
So as coach Meyer jogs off into the sunset and Will Muschamp takes on one of the most rigorous coaching jobs in the country, I will continue to work, learn and enjoy the time I have covering college sports. Urban Meyer will never leave college sports and I don’t think the passion shared by the media that covers it will leave anytime soon.