Meyer resigning from Gators after Outback Bowl

GAINESVILLE, Fla. | Florida coach Urban Meyer is leaving one of the premier jobs in college football for the second time to spend more time with his family.

In a campus news conference Meyer said he wants to make being a husband and father his top priority.

“I have not seen my two girls play high school sports. I can’t get that time back,” he said.

The 46-year-old coach led Florida to two national titles but briefly resigned last December, citing health concerns, but returned the next day. He had been hospitalized with chest pains after the Gators lost to Alabama in last season’s Southeastern Conference championship game.

“Last year was a knee-jerk reaction,” Meyer said. “This year was just completely different.”

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said he had no “second guesses” about how he handled Meyer’s very brief resignation last year.

“He’s at peace with his life,” Foley said. “He wasn’t at peace a year ago, and this institution helped him get there.”

Meyer called Foley on Saturday to tell him he was contemplating retirement. They met Tuesday to finalize his intentions.

“He’s put his heart and soul into college football,” Foley told The Associated Press before the news conference. “He’s not sick. This is a totally different situation than a year ago. He just wants to take a step back and spend time with his family.”

Foley said the coaching search will begin immediately and hopes to have a new coach in the next 2½ weeks.

Meyer’s announcement caught players, fans and the rest of college football by surprise.

He called assistant coaches, many of whom were on the road recruiting, earlier this week to relay the news. Quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler told the AP he was “stunned” and that no one saw this coming.

“We’ll be fine,” said Loeffler, adding that Meyer was planning to meet with his staff Wednesday night. “It happens in this profession. We’re just happy for him. He’s doing it the right way.”

AOL FanHouse first reported the resignation, and fellow coaches were quick to praise his efforts at Florida.

“The world of college football will miss Urban,” said former USC coach Pete Carroll, who like Meyer was one of the decade’s best college coaches but opted to leave his job — in Carroll’s case for the NFL’s Seahawks. “He did a great job coaching at Florida. He had major personal issues and health issues a year ago, and I’m sure that he did everything he could to fight it off. Now he’s making decisions that are probably exactly what he needs to be doing. … He brought a lot of excitement to Florida football, the SEC and all that. Everybody’s going to miss him.”

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