Urban Meyer is sorry, just not about that.
Less than 24 hours after he was fired as head coach of the Jaguars, a “devastated” Meyer broke his silence and apologized, though not specifically to the players and coaches he allegedly mistreated during his brief tenure with the team.
“I just apologize to Jacksonville,” Meyer told NFL.com in an interview done Friday and published Saturday. “I love Jacksonville. It’s one of the reasons I took the job. I still think Shad [Khan is] a great owner. It’s heartbreaking. I just had a dream of it becoming a destination place with a new facility he agreed to build and some day to walk into that stadium where it’s standing room only. Because I know how bad the people of Jacksonville want it. So, I’m just heartbroken that we weren’t able to do that. I still believe it’s going to be done. It’s too good of a place.”
Meyer’s dismissal came after weeks of turmoil in Jacksonville. The last straw appeared to come Wednesday when the Tampa Bay Times published an account from kicker Josh Lambo, who claimed that Meyer had kicked him during a practice in August. The Jaguars finally announced they had fired Meyer later on Thursday after midnight.Urban Meyer described being fired by the Jaguars after 13 games as “heartbreaking.”Getty Images
Meyer denied that the incident with Lambo — a source told NFL.com that two players who saw it described it differently to a Jaguars executive — along with the specifics of a reportedly heated exchange he had with veteran receiver Marvin Jones.
“It was like, ‘Wait a minute, where is this coming from?'” Meyer said. “I’ve certainly made a few mistakes but those weren’t right.”
Meyer pinned his frustrations to all the losing. The longtime successful college football coach went just 2-11 in his short jump to the NFL.
“I tell people, losing eats away at your soul,” Meyer said. “Once you start losing, it’s hard on everybody. I thought at one point, when we won two out of three, there was some momentum, great energy, the defense was really playing well. We were running the ball and then when that dried up on us, then we started turning the ball over. We had that bye week and then James Robinson gets hurt.”
Instead, the losing continued, capped off by a loss to the Titans, after which Meyer had a frosty handshake with Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel, his former Ohio State assistant.
“That had nothing to do with him,” Meyer said. “That’s probably one of my issues why I’ve thought some of the things I said: I can’t take losing. I try to accept it, it just eats away at my soul. And I believe our players deserve better.”
The 57-year-old Meyer, who said his next career step was “to be determined,” was also asked whether he believes his style of coaching can work in the NFL.All of the Jaguars’ losses were getting to Urban Meyer.Getty Images
“I think college has changed quite a bit, too,” Meyer said. “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.”