I like serious people. I like aggressive people. I like ambitious, smart, forward-thinking people.
For all those reasons, I like Urban Meyer.
From mainstreaming the spread offense, to revolutionizing recruiting through text messaging, to being the first college football coach to exploit the coach's timeout rule in attempting to "freeze" field goal kickers, Meyer has pushed the envelope, manipulated loopholes and been on the leading edge of almost every major trend in college football the past five years.
Urban Meyer lives in the grey area between fair and dirty play mining for any advantage he can give his team. There's nothing wrong with that. He sees an opening or a weakness – be that on an opposing team or in the NCAA rulebook – and he attacks it.
But as more details of Meyer's tactics on the recruiting trail surface, it's clear Meyer isn't simply playing the margins when it comes to bringing talent to Gainesville, he's a cheater.
Urban Meyer has gone far beyond bold and innovative on the recruiting trail. He's unethical, he's immoral and he's a cheater.
For a great brief synopsis on Meyer's mounting legacy of dirty tricks in recruiting, read ESPN college football reporter Bruce Feldman's blog. You'll need to scroll down a few stories before coming to "Meyer at center of controversy."
To summarize, Meyer landed a top JUCO wide receiver this season by doggedly recruiting the player's girlfriend, a gymnast, to come to UF. This is a blatant violation of a basic NCAA rule forbidding football coaches from recruiting for other sports and also an infraction regarding frequency of contact.
He further would orchestrate a call between that player and Tim Tebow at the Heisman Trophy ceremony which is also a clear violation of NCAA rules.
He lied to a Michigan recruit about a conversation he had with UM coaches attempting to trick the player into believing the Michigan coaches felt the player would be better off at Florida. The conversation never took place; a clear ethical and moral breech.
Finally, Meyer told a top QB recruit (Jevan Snead, formerly at Texas, now at Ole Miss) two years ago that his only interest in scouting Tim Tebow was as a linebacker after promising the player he was the only quarterback the Gators were recruiting. Another blatant lie. Another dramatic ethical and moral breech. But worse still, the gross act of a grown man trying to screw with a teenager's future, the ultimate act of deceit, brokering on built up trust to deceive a kid for your personal gain.
Sickening. Each and every case.
These are not the acts of a man with integrity.
This is not merely coloring outside the lines or being a fierce competitor. This is cheating. There's no other way to view it.
Urban Meyer is a cheater.
The problem for the rest of the college football world is that these are only secondary violations in the eyes of the NCAA and it appears as though Meyer couldn't give a damn about racking up more secondary violations than bimbos at a Poison concert. At most he'll get a slap on the wrist from the NCAA, maybe lose a few phone call privileges or be docked a visit here or there, but when you're at Florida, you have so many built in recruiting advantages, you can risk minor sanction in pursuing the crown jewel players because you're going to get your fair share of blue chippers regardless.
Meyer's administration clearly approves of his conduct, Meyer personally has no conscience about his crooked behavior, Gator fans are obviously on board and the NCAA lacks the stones to punish him for what are obvious and wanton violations of both the spirit and letter of its laws.
The University of Florida is a great school with a beautiful campus, a wonderful tradition, outstanding facilities, resort weather, a great head coach and it's located in the middle of some of the best recruiting turf in America, its coach doesn't need to cheat to land top talent, but that's just what he's doing.
What Meyer's supporters will tell you in attempting to defend his underhandedness is that all coaches and all schools bend the rules when it comes to recruiting.
That may be so, but Meyer has gone well beyond just bending the rules, he's taken a bamboo pole, jammed it up the backside of the rules, broken it off, taken the remainder and plunged it in the rules' eye, kicked the rules in the groin and then spit on them as he walks away.
Urban Meyer treats the NCAA rulebook on recruiting like some perfect combination of Eddie Gilbert, Ric Flair and Abdullah the Butcher. He uses charm, guile and outright brutality.
Urban Meyer doesn't do anything half speed. When he coaches, he coaches all out. When he recruits, he recruits all out. When he cheats, he cheats all out.
Urban Meyer is no fool. He's no dope. He's one of the smartest coaches in any sport and he knows exactly what the NCAA rulebook says about recruiting. He knows what's allowed, when, and how often. He knows what a major violation is; he knows what a minor violation is. He has chosen to knowingly break the rules, repeatedly. Meyer knows exactly what he's doing and he continues to do it.
He has what appears to be a pathological aversion to sportsmanship when it comes to recruiting.
What can be done to stop Urban Meyer?
Only one group of people can bring him under control and that is his peers.
It's up to the coaches who do it right, heavyweights like Mark Richt, Tommy
Tuberville and Les Miles within the conference and big names at big schools with big platforms outside like Pete Carroll and Mack Brown to use their stature to stare down and reign in Meyer because he's proven he won't stop on his own and with the force of a major university and program like Florida's behind him, he'd just steamroll the weak.
The coaches within the SEC need to go to the commissioner, report suspected violations, let the league put pressure on Meyer to clean up his act. They should use the media as well as back channels within the coaching community to let Meyer know that what he's doing isn't going unnoticed and if it continues, he'll be blackballed in the community and hounded by more investigations than the Clinton Administration.
Coaches need to drop the dime on him. Inform on him. Bog the Florida administration down with so many reports of violations to investigate that they become sick of it and bring him in line.
Urban Meyer brought this upon himself by being a cheater. He's been rolling around in the mud, if some other coach pushes his face in it he's only getting what he asked for.
If a coach hears something from a recruit about a possible violation or lie, inquire about it with Meyer. If you don't get a response or a satisfactory response, drop it to a newspaper. Repeated stories of misconduct in the L.A. Times or Atlanta Journal-Constitution will bring Meyer kicking and screaming into the community of honorable behavior.
Virtually everything about the recruiting process makes it rife for abuse and there is no coach with perfectly clean hands, but Meyer's egregious rule breaking and consistently galling lack of ethics demands action to curtail.