Made official not long ago, the Jaguars have landed one of the best collegiate coaches in history and perhaps one of the most prolific head coaches in general, at any level.
“This is a great day for Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere,” said Jaguars Owner Shad Khan.
“Urban Meyer is who we want and need, a leader, winner and champion who demands excellence and produces results. While Urban already enjoys a legacy in the game of football that few will ever match, his passion for the opportunity in front of him here in Jacksonville is powerful and unmistakable. I am proud to name Urban Meyer the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”
“I’m ready to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars,” said Meyer.
“Jacksonville has an enthusiastic fan base, and the fans deserve a winning team. With upcoming opportunities in the NFL Draft, and strong support from ownership, the Jaguars are well-positioned to become competitive. I’ve analyzed this decision from every angle—the time is right in Jacksonville, and the time is right for me to return to coaching. I’m excited about the future of this organization and our long term prospect for success.”
Urban Meyer, formerly the head coach at both Ohio State University (2011-18) and the University of Florida (2005-10), has been named the head ball coach in Jacksonville, and with that comes plenty of optimism, but potentially plenty of questions, too.
After much speculation whether or not Meyer would even return to the coaching ranks, a clear decision has been made, a return to Florida is now squarely in his future.
With that, what exactly are the Jaguars getting in Meyer, and what does it say about the team’s future?
Here are three immediate takeaways from the hire:
1. A high-risk, high-reward situation is in store for Jacksonville
While hiring Meyer appears at first glance to be a slam-dunk, there are plenty of risks to go along with it. The Jaguars have aimed high and their ability to make this work will be of the utmost importance.
While Meyer has had plenty of success, winning 85% of his games at the collegiate level and particularly in his stops with the Gators (two National Championships) and the Buckeyes (one National Championship), he also has had a couple of dark spots within his tenure at both universities.
Meyer has retired twice before the age of 54 due to health concerns. Once in 2010, and again in 2018. Since his retirement, Meyer has worked as an analyst for Fox Sports with a concentration on the Big Ten. While health reasons are not negative in terms of his ability to coach a football team, it is something to consider moving forward.
Meyer has never coached at the pro level, all of his success has come at the collegiate level. While this has not been an issue for some coaches, the change from the college ranks to the pros can become overwhelming. It has been seen in the past with current Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who coached just two years with the Miami Dolphins (2005-06), earning a record of 15-17, and leaving to become Alabama’s head coach shortly thereafter.
The high reward portion of this hire has already essentially been outlined, however, if Meyer works out — and that doesn’t appear to be too big of an if considering the potential selection of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence — this could be the start of a renaissance of sorts within the organization and for the city of Jacksonville.
2. The structure of power will be something to watch
With Meyer comes a lot of speculation regarding just how much control the soon-to-be college football Hall of Fame head coach will have. Early in the process, it was reported that Meyer would want plenty of control of the personnel within the organization, from players to potentially the strength and conditioning staff.
To put it in perspective, here is what SI’s Albert Breer reported on Jan. 6 when it comes to what Meyer could bring to Jacksonville:
With the former Florida and Ohio State coach, the transformation would involve more than assistants. It’d be strength coaches and player development staff and nutritionists—really, he’d be bringing in a program more than a staff. So I believe he’d need, more than just a certain salary, a budget to overhaul much of the organization, in the same sort of way he did in Gainesville and Columbus.
Essentially, this could be a fresh start for much of the Jaguars organization. While the Jaguars entered the offseason with an interim general manager in Trent Baalke, they could find themselves in a position similar to that of the 2019 Houston Texans with Bill O’Brien. O’Brien was essentially the team’s general manager, making all of the personnel decisions.
While Meyer’s situation will certainly be different, it will be yet another responsibility he has never had, at least not at the pro level.
What Meyer does bring, however, is the ability to re-build a program. Even in the NFL, there is plenty to be done in regards to overhauling a franchise. That comes down to facilities and other advancements, and the overall culture. What the Jaguars need, and what they are getting in Meyer is a CEO, a person to right the ship, and rebuild the franchise.
3. The Jaguars waited patiently and hit their target
This was not a typical offseason hiring cycle for the Jaguars, nor the NFL as a whole. While it was not exceptionally early, the Jaguars were one of the first of seven teams to fill its vacant head coaching position. After interviewing several candidates, including Meyer just last week, Jacksonville and owner Shad Khan put a pause to the interview process, allowing Meyer to come to a decision.
Meyer was the team’s No. 1 target from the start of the offseason, with reports circulating a month prior that Meyer was one of the coaches Khan was most interested in.
Prior to the hiring process taking place, and shortly after Khan announced that Doug Marrone would no longer be the team’s head coach, he preached a willingness to be patient in the process, making sure the team does its due diligence when it comes to making the right choice at the right time.
“Well first of all, on timing, I think this is something that we’re not doing that often, so we’re going to take our time to make sure we’ve looked far and wide and really at a whole variety of candidates,” Khan said last week. “So I really can’t give you the timing, unless when it’s right, obviously, we’ll be sharing it with you.”
Prior to hiring Meyer, the Jaguars reportedly interviewed several candidates, including Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, Atlanta Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
Certainly, there were other candidates out there, but the Jaguars nailed the large majority of the big-name targets that were floated prior to the offseason beginning. They took their time, landed their guy, and now it’s time to see if it will all work.