Urban Meyer is right on schedule. The accomplished college coach has produced an .854 career winning percentage as a head coach between 17 seasons as the head coach at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State -- taking a personal year in 2011 after walking away from the Gators and another in 2019 after walking away from the Buckeyes. But as recently as one month ago, Meyer had already begun leaving breadcrumbs that he may not be done coaching just yet.
"I've been in a fight for 33 years, and now you're not in that fight," said Meyer when asked about life as a retired coach.
"So how do you fulfill that fight? And I feel that every morning. Every morning. "It's all about a win and a loss for 33 years. I mean every day was. Not just you're getting ready for a game. No, no, no no. You're recruiting every day. You're going against Alabama and Clemson every day. The Team Up North every day -- now you're not. That's the number one void: you're not in the fight."
Meyer's name has been tied to a potential vacancy at Southern California this upcoming offseason ever since he took a broadcasting job with Fox Sports -- with an office located less than an hour away from USC's facilities. Convenient, Coach Meyer. Very convenient, indeed.
But might there be another destination? A new challenge with a familiar face to welcome him into the fray? Yes -- I'm talking about quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the Washington Redskins, with their suddenly very available head coaching job in 2020.
Meyer's never coached at the pro level before, but then again -- what does Meyer really have left to prove in the college ranks? He's won 187 games as a head coach, plus a 12-3 record in bowl games. Meyer has three national championships (2006, 2008 with Florida and 2014 with Ohio State) to his name and has been named the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year in 2004 during his tenure with Utah. Meyer, at 55 years of age, is watching his window close on the opportunity to try the pro game -- and while many all-time great college coaches have never tried their hand at coaching in the NFL, many others have.
Nick Saban (242 wins). Steve Spurrier (228 wins). Pete Carroll (97 wins). Lou Holtz (249 wins). Jimmy Johnson (81 wins). John McKay (127 wins). Barry Switzer (157 wins).
Urban Meyer (187 wins)?
It's the kind of "splash" hire that you know Washington owner Daniel Snyder would absolutely love to make. Washington is slowly tumbling into the abyss in 2019 and hasn't really been able to captivate their fanbase over the last several seasons. As fan interest, ticket sales and national media coverage wanes, a power play is a move you can be rest assured Washington will look to make in an effort to strong-arm their way back to relevancy.
Don't believe me? Don't look any further than their first rumored target -- Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. ESPN's Ed Werder reported on Tuesday that a source "who knows Dan Snyder well and is aware of his thoughts on potential next Redskins head coaches" would start with Pittsburgh's Tomlin -- despite Tomlin being under contract with Pittsburgh, working for an organization that has had three head coaches since the time Richard Nixon took the Oval Office in Washington back in 1969.
Dan Snyder wants Tomlin? Good luck! Unless he's planning on channelling Nixon and sabotaging Pittsburgh from the inside out, it's extremely difficult to see Tomlin not back in the Steel City for the 2020 season. Would Washington trade assets to Pittsburgh in return for Tomlin? They don't have that much at their disposal -- with the exception of a 2020 1st-round pick likely to land in the top-5 overall. Pittsburgh just finished trading their own 1st-round pick to Miami for DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, so you have to figure it'd entice the Steelers...but you can't make this deal if you're Washington. So move to Plan B.
Snyder was a big catalyst in Washington drafting QB Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State with the team's original 1st-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Snyder knew Haskins courtesy of his son attending the same high school Haskins graduated from in 2016 -- the Bullis School. Haskins was reportedly the only player Dan Snyder met with at the 2019 NFL Combine. And Snyder doesn't seem like the type of man to bail on his own pet project after one season with a lame-duck head coach who didn't want him to start the season. Snyder will want someone in house to work with his preferred target to play under center in hopes of proving his own intuition right.
Who better to call upon than the man who helped coach Haskins into being a 1st-round pick at Ohio State in Meyer? Meyer has always had eyes for Haskins. Four years ago, Meyer told Bruce Feldman on "The Audible" podcast that Haskins was the best quarterback prospect he's ever had. Including 2005 number one overall pick Alex Smith.
"I've been blessed to be around some incredible quarterbacks. But (Haskins) is the best that I've seen at his age since I've been coaching," said Meyer.
"His release, his arm strength, his size...and his footwork. He's so well-coached. We have such admiration for his technique."
Haskins would go on to make Meyer look pretty damn smart -- exploding in 2018 as his first (and only) season as Meyer's starting quarterback, notching 4,831 passing yards and 50 passing touchdowns in 14 games while completing 70% of his passes. The marriage couldn't have gone smoother between the two. Would a reunion at the NFL level work? Who knows. But if there was a single organization in the NFL that would try to make such a wild idea work, try to suggest it would be any other team besides Washington.
Heck, this isn't the first time Washington would have tried to recreate college magic under the watch of Snyder. Remember when Steve Spurrier signed on to be Washington's head coach in 2002? 11 of the team's starts that season were split between -- wait for it -- former Florida Gators quarterbacks Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel. The other quarterback on the roster was a 1st-round quarterback drafted by Washington that year, Patrick Ramsey. That experiment didn't go well -- but then again neither has much Washington has tried in the time since Snyder bought the team in 1999. Washington has six winning seasons since then -- and just three division titles.
The primary question would center around how much of Meyer's spread offense would translate to the NFL game, where defenders are a tick faster and cover extra ground -- whittling away at a quarterback and offense's margin of error on each play. It's hard to say. Spurrier's offense didn't work, either -- Washington finished 25th and 22nd in the NFL in points scored back in 2002-2003.
Ultimately, Meyer checks the right boxes to be a logical candidate for Washington. Ignore the uncertainty of his college offense and whether or not his coaching style would be well received at the pro level. Instead, focus on what he can provide to Washington:
- A big, splash hire that would get people buzzing about the team
- A coach already on the market, preventing the team from mortgaging the future to hire him
- A coach with supreme familiarity with Snyder's preferred quarterback in Haskins -- guaranteeing Haskins will get the structure he needs to play best
And Meyer gets to scratch his competitive itch with a brand new challenge -- one that doesn't involve the rigors of recruiting and can potentially add to Meyer's legacy as a football coach, all while reuniting with "the best quarterback prospect he's ever had." Meyer will try to play coy and suggest he's not interested in getting back into the coaching pool -- but even he can't even lie well enough to hide the writing on the wall.
"I'm not there at the moment...next year can I say that? We'll talk again next year and we'll see."
Indeed we will, Coach. Indeed we will. But where will we see you?