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The College Football Notebook


December 9, 2010 7:24 AM

Meyer Steps Down At Florida

UrbanMeyerRetires.jpgLast year at this time, Urban Meyer shocked the college football world when he announced he was taking a leave of absence from Florida. He eventually decided to come back and his team buried Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl to complete a 13-1 season. Florida was expected to be down this season at all media outlets except the Notebook, which picked them to reach the national championship game. But no one expected them to be this far down, as they lost five games and looked lethargic most of the time. Perhaps now we know why. Meyer has announced his retirement at the young age of 46, and placing this in context, it seems a reasonable guess that he just was not as driven as in years past.

I had the chance to listen to Lou Holtz on ESPN last night talk about the pressures of big-time coaching and "Dr. Lou" was right on the button regarding the absurd expectations of fans and alumni. Florida's season was seen as a disappointment last year because they didn't win the national championship. Are you kidding me? A 12-0 regular season, a Sugar Bowl win and the only loss to eventual champ Alabama and that's a disappointment? But this type of expectation is not at all unusual. The conspiratorial side of me wants to think that the New York Yankees have strategically slipped their fans and the accompanying mindset into college fan bases across the country. In reality, the 24/7 news cycle, the Internet and the ever-present shortsightedness of gamblers, who drive a lot of the TV ratings, give rise to a focus where only the last game matters and it's not whether you win, but how much you win by. Congratulations to Meyer on a great career, winning two BCS National Championships at Florida and the Notebook looks forward to what seems to be his inevitable return in a few years after he re-charges his batteries and his kids grow up.

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This has normally been the space where the Notebook's been running discussion of individual awards for each conference. Today I had planned to do the SEC, but the announcement of Meyer upstaged that, and quite frankly it's just as well, because there are only so many words I can use to say that Cam Newton is a runaway choice for Player of the Year. If you go game-by-game and look at his production, he really is as good as the hype. For a look at some of the quality running backs in this league, click here. And a shoutout to South Carolina's great receiver Alshon Jeffrey, along with defensive line gamechangers Nick Fairley (Auburn) and Justin Houston (Georgia).

Coach of the Year goes, ironically, to Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, who edges Arkansas' Bobby Petrino for the honor. Petrino's 10-2 season and Sugar Bowl bid were a solid achievement, but not as much as Mullen's eight-win campaign in Starkville, as difficult a place as there is to win, given the location and the competition. I call this ironic, because Mullen used to be offensive coordinator for Meyer at Florida and is a leading candidate to be in Gainesville next year.



Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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