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Urban Meyer blames ‘fragile’ players, coaches for firing from Jacksonville Jaguars

Matt Johnson
Urban Meyer
Corey Perrine / USA TODAY NETWORK

Urban Meyer is out as the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach and will likely never work in the NFL again after accusations of kicking a player, belittling his coaching staff and creating an even worse culture in Jacksonville. But the former head coach sees another problem that led to his exit.

In a lengthy interview with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Meyer apologized to Jacksonville for not getting the job done and denied Josh Lambo’s allegations that he kicked the veteran kicker in August. But the 57-year-old college coaching legend also cited a changing culture in the United States and football as a reason why things didn’t work out.

  • Urban Meyer coaching record (NFL): 2-11

When asked by Rapoport if his style of coaching can work in today’s modern world, either in the NFL or college, Meyer suggested players and coaches are “so fragile” that his ways might no longer work.

“I think college has changed quite a bit, too. Just society has changed. You think how hard you pushed. … I believe there is greatness in everybody and it’s the coach’s job to find that greatness however you do that. Positive encouragement. Pushing them to be greater, making them work harder, identifying flaws and trying to fix [them]. I think everything is so fragile right now. And that includes coaching staffs. When I got into coaching, coaches weren’t making this kind of money and they didn’t have agents. Everything is so fragile where it used to be team, team, team. I remember talking about it in a staff meeting three days ago. I got into this profession because I had the greatest high school coach and it was all about team. All about the huddle.”

Former NFL head coach Urban Meyer on why his coaching style may no longer work

Meyer is one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of college football and his success in an industry where student-athletes don’t have a players’ union or real power allowed him the freedom to operate however he wanted.

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But he quickly learned that doesn’t exist in the NFL, with players backed by a union and far more spotlight put onto things NFL coaches do.

A month into becoming the Jaguars’ head coach, Meyer hired Chris Doyle as the team’s director of sports performance. It came less than a year after the former college strength and conditioning coach was dismissed from Iowa after multiple players spoke out about Doyle using racist language against them and treating them differently based on their race. Facing immediate criticism from NFL analysts and the Fritz Pollard Alliance, Meyer defended the hire and his vetting process.

That same vetting process helped Meyer build his first NFL coaching staff, the same coaches who he reportedly called “losers” and demanded they defend their resumes during the 2021 season.

The Urban Meyer bar video drew attention and resulted in the entire locker room losing respect for their head coach and mocking him when he wasn’t in the room. But it also highlighted Meyer’s lack of understanding for the level of preparation NFL head coaches put into their jobs, which includes studying film on flights home instead of relaxing at a nearby bar.

But Meyer’s poor treatment of players, most often done to those he could seemingly get away with doing it towards, proved even more costly.

There’s a possibility Meyer coaches again in college, given the level of desperation at many programs. But the salaries for the highest-paid coaches in college football are skyrocketing and student-athletes are now profiting off their name, image and likeness. If that is too much for Meyer, coaching and leadership of young men aren’t for him.