So much for the speculation. After Twitter suddenly blew up with rumors that Urban Meyer would be stepping down this evening, this one is now official mere minutes later. Urban Meyer held a meeting with his team this afternoon to tell his players that he would be stepping down, and Florida has scheduled a press conference for 6:00 this evening. Per the official Florida athletics website, Meyer released the following in an official statement:
I have been a Division I football coach for the last 25 years and, during that time, my primary focus has been helping my teams win titles,” Meyer said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and I am a fierce competitor to my core. At this time in my life, however, I appreciate the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field. The decision to step down was a difficult one.
Most important, I will be forever grateful to the student-athletes I have had the honor to coach and from whom I have learned so much. I will profoundly miss coming to campus every day to coach this team, but I will always be a Gator at heart, and I am confident that the program will continue to reflect the highest ideals of the University of Florida and collegiate sports."
Meyer will coach the Outback Bowl against Penn State, but will step aside once that game is over. I suppose it's hard to call this one too much of a surprise given his temporary retirement last year, his health issues, and the struggles that Florida had on-field this season, but even so any time something of this magnitude happens it is obviously a huge move.
Where does Florida go from here? Given the on-field struggles they had this season, I imagine they move on from the current staff and hire a new coach from outside, especially since both coordinators from their glory run have moved on to other coaching jobs. Surely Dan Mullen will be the odds-on favorite early in the process, and admittedly it's hard to see him turning that job down, but I'm sure there will be several more names floated as well. Mullen or not, given the predominance of offense at Florida as well as all of the skill position talent generated in-state, I imagine they would go with an offensive hire even if Mullen passes. One way or the other, we'll update when more news becomes available.
Update: Travis Reier for the win:
Urban steps down without having reached the end zone in Tuscaloosa.