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Can Urban Meyer be taken seriously again as a college football studio analyst after one of the most disastrous NFL head coaching tenures in recent memory? Fox Sports apparently believes so.

According to Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, Meyer and Fox Sports are “in deep negotiations” for a return to the network, indicating that a deal is imminent. Few who follow or cover sports media could say that’s a surprise. Shortly after Meyer was drawn by the Jacksonville Jaguars Last December, speculation about whether or not he would return to television began.

It looks like the Fox Sports version of the old Jedi mind trick. Are executives Eric Shanks and Mark Silverman wiggling their fingers to distract us and change our thoughts?

It wasn’t the coach who went 2-11 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bob Stoops did not replace Meyer on Big Noon Kickoff last season. You love Big Ten football. Urban Meyer was an outstanding Big Ten coach. Oh, and uh, ESPN doesn’t have a hugely popular college football pregame show either! Kirk Herbstreit? He plays NFL Thursday Night Football!

Returning to training certainly didn’t seem like a likely option for Meyer. Certainly not in the NFL. His tenure in Jacksonville was so bad that the team fired him before he could even finish his freshman season. The Jaguars were 2-11 when Meyer was fired shortly after a Tampa Bay Weather report in which former Jacksonville placekicker Josh Lambo alleged that the coach kicked him during practice.

This story broke a few days later a report from the NFL Network detailing tensions between players and assistant coaches with Meyer. Wide receiver Marvin Jones was reportedly so upset with the coach criticizing his stance group that he left the team facility and later got into a heated argument with Meyer during practice. Assistant coaches have had their accomplishments and resumes belittled at staff meetings.

Also, running back James Robinson was pulled from a game for fumbling and wasn’t allowed to return until quarterback Trevor Lawrence questioned why the team’s best offensive player was not used.

The perception of Meyer’s ability to coach an NFL team and deal with older professionals was already in deep doubt by then. After a Week 4 loss to the Bengals, Meyer remained in Ohio while the rest of the team returned to Jacksonville. A coach not traveling with his team after a defeat has drawn widespread criticism. But the scrutiny intensified when video of a woman provocatively dancing with Meyer at her Columbus restaurant gone viral.

However, Meyer demonstrated shortly after the Jaguars signed him that he apparently didn’t think anyone would question his authority. Less than a month into his tenure, he added strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle to his staff. Doyle left the University of Iowa in light of accusations of bullying black players and racial slurs. Amid the uproar surrounding his hiring, Doyle quickly quit.

Given Meyer’s questionable decisions and conduct during his short stint with the Jaguars, no athletic director or college president would hire him as head football coach either. How would he explain his behavior, all the incidents mentioned above (and others that weren’t mentioned), to the families of the young men hoping the head coach would take care of his players?

So the question must be asked again: Can Meyer be taken seriously as a college football studio analyst now?

Presumably, Fox Sports executives and producers would say that Meyer’s experience as an NFL coach should have no bearing on his qualifications as a college football commentator. His record as a college coach is still dazzling. Three national championships. An overall winning percentage of .854 (187-32 record).

Additionally, Meyer garnered fan and media acclaim for his first stint with Fox during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He showed a knack for clearly explaining concepts such as run-pass option, successful offense on the goal line and effective rushing passing techniques. The network Midday kick-off The pre-game show became popular with viewers, especially among Big Ten fans.

Maybe Fox Sports executives think some college football fans don’t even know Meyer left the studio to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars. It seems unlikely. But some people are fans of one sport without paying attention to others. So as far as they’re concerned, perhaps Meyer took a sabbatical to study current football offenses and defenses. Or maybe he took a year off to spend time with his family. Maybe something personal or medical happened.

What the network surely believes is that Meyer’s recent past doesn’t matter. Fox Sports has shown with previous hires that past transgressions don’t influence hiring decisions.

It was the network that brought Matt Millen back after being one of the worst executives in NFL history with the Detroit Lions. Alex Rodriguez was hired as a baseball studio analyst after the end of his career was marred by the disgrace of PED. Fox even hired Pete Rose, who is still banned from Major League Baseball! Meyer’s truncated NFL coaching career fits right in.

Ultimately, Fox Sports is right. Much outrage will be expressed among social media, sports media critics and media that covers the industry. Anything Meyer says about culture, team spirit, leadership, work ethic and trust will be outright mocked.

But as loud as these voices may be, they only represent a fraction of the public. Viewers just want to watch the football game or tune in to the pre-game show for some quick news, maybe a look at the day in college football and information on the two teams about to play. player. They probably won’t care that Urban Meyer was a disaster as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And with that, he can begin to rebuild the reputation that was demolished. As sports and the news media have shown, there is no better place to rehabilitate a career than on television.


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