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Meyer Returns to Sidelines With NFL’s Jaguars Hire

Written by:
Associated Press
Published on:
Jan/14/2021

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Urban Meyer has won everywhere he’s coached. Small colleges. Big-time programs. He’s been a difference maker at each stop during his storied career.

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He’s ready to try something new: the NFL.

Meyer agreed to become head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, leaving the broadcast booth and returning to the sidelines after a two-year absence that followed another health scare.

The 56-year-old Meyer was team owner Shad Khan’s top target for weeks, maybe even months, and the deal was signed shortly after their third and final meeting in seven days. They met last Friday on Khan’s yacht in Miami, again Wednesday and once more at the facility Thursday.

Hiring the longtime college coach with three national championships signifies a new direction for a franchise that has lost 105 of 144 games since Khan took over in 2012.

“This is a great day for Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere,” Khan said in a statement. “Urban Meyer is who we want and need, a leader, winner and champion who demands excellence and produces results.

“While Urban already enjoys a legacy in the game of football that few will ever match, his passion for the opportunity in front of him here in Jacksonville is powerful and unmistakable.”

Meyer went 187-32 — a staggering winning percentage of 85.3 — in stops at Bowling Green (2001-02), Utah (2003-04), Florida (2005-10) and Ohio State (2012-18). He ranks seventh all time in collegiate winning percentage, trailing only Notre Dame legends Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy among coaches at major programs.

But some doubts remain about Meyer’s ability to make a smooth transition to the NFL, where motivational tactics tend to be moot and losing multiple games every year is a given. Meyer never lost more than five times in any season as a college head coach; he went 83-9 at Ohio State.

Still, Meyer has been eyeing an NFL move for months. He researched the league with help from former players and friends, started assembling a potential staff and learned how the front office works. Meyer and Khan have been friends for years, building a relationship while both were living in Big Ten country.

“I’ve analyzed this decision from every angle — the time is right in Jacksonville,” Meyer said in a statement. “And the time is right for me to return to coaching. I’m excited about the future of this organization and our long-term prospect for success.”

Jacksonville was the most attractive opening. The Jaguars have 11 picks in the 2021 draft, including five in the top 65, and are nearly $100 million under the projected salary cap. Adding to the appeal: Khan, a billionaire businessman, has shown a penchant for patience and a willingness to spend big.

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