Urban Meyer is the focal point of Fox’s star-studded pregame show. He’ll steer this vessel on a daunting mission and meet ESPN’s College GameDay head-on in open, choppy Saturday seas. It’s a new challenge for a man who has proven himself year after year to be one of the finest coaches in college football.
In a media landscape increasingly dependent on new stars, Meyer is a known entity. His work as a television analyst has previously been encouraging, but like on the field, a bit behind Nick Saban’s abilities. The former Ohio State and Florida head coach is no enigma. Fox should have no questions about the man they’re getting and what makes him tick.
They should know that with Meyer, the exit door is always ajar, even if his feet are on the floor. He left football only to return once, and most people assume he’ll eventually do it again. That’s baggage, even if he stays away year after year.
And this would be baked in even if he didn’t address it. That he’s confronting it in the Los Angeles Times is admirable, but promises to only increase speculation.
“I believe I’m done but I’ve also learned to just live in the moment,” Meyer said. “I love what I’m doing and I hope I do this for a long time.”
Honestly, it’s probably smart for Meyer to give himself an out here. He’s put himself in the position where his words and actions didn’t line up before, so perhaps this is growth.
The question remains for Fox: how do you build around someone who seems allergic to digging deep into the foundation? How do you put pieces around a guy whose suitcase may be packed upstairs in the hotel room and jumps ship for greener pastures?
How do you operate when Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, two of Meyer’s co-hosts, are on the record saying they’ll recruit him to take over the USC job if Clay Helton struggles again this year? That seems less than ideal.
Getting Meyer for one year would help get this show off the ground. And it’s not like he’s totally irreplaceable talent-wise. Name recognition is another story.
Perhaps the best thing for them to do is just take Meyer’s advice. To live in the moment without worrying about what comes next. To heed the wisdom of an old AIM away message. Let the good times roll until the inevitable more attractive opportunity presents itself, then cross the personnel bridge when they come to it.
Fox knew what they were getting with Meyer and it’s already begun. His eyes tend to wander. All they can do is hope that happens later, not sooner.