JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – The Jaguars have hired Urban Meyer as their new head coach, enlisting the services of one of the most successful college coaches in NCAA history to help turn around one of the league’s poorest teams.
In a statement, team owner Shad Khan stated, “This is a terrific day for Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere.” “Urban Meyer is the type of leader, winner, and champion we want and need, someone who expects perfection and generates results. While Urban already has a legacy in football that few will ever match, his enthusiasm for the opportunity that lies ahead of him in Jacksonville is palpable.”
Meyer was hired after he and the Jaguars had regular communication. Meyer had been gathering a coaching team, including several assistants from the college ranks, ahead of taking the Jaguars job, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Meyer said in a statement, “I’m ready to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars.” “Jacksonville’s fans are passionate, and they deserve a successful club. The Jaguars are well-positioned to become competitive, with upcoming opportunities in the NFL Draft and strong ownership support. I’ve given this choice a lot of thought, and I believe the moment is perfect for me to return to coaching in Jacksonville. I’m optimistic about this organization’s future and our long-term prospects for success.”
A source told ESPN’s Todd Archer and Jeremy Fowler that former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who was at LSU in 2020, is emerging as a top candidate to become Meyer’s offensive coordinator in Jacksonville.
Meyer coached at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Ohio State, where he won three national titles and had a 187-32 college coaching record. He won two of those titles with the Gators (2006, 2008), leading them to a 65-15 record in six seasons. He also led the Buckeyes to the 2014 national title and compiled an 83-9 record in seven seasons in Columbus, Ohio.
He will be the sixth head coach in Jaguars history, replacing Doug Marrone, whom Khan fired Jan. 4 after the Jaguars finished their worst season in franchise history (1-15). Marrone had a 25-44 record (including playoffs) in four seasons with the Jaguars.
The Jaguars gave up a franchise-record 492 points last season, becoming the fifth team since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978 to allow at least 20 points in every game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Offensively, the Jaguars ranked 28th or worse in yards per game, rushing and scoring. They ranked 21st in passing, which is largely a product of falling behind big in games and having to abandon the run.
But Jacksonville has assets with which to launch a rebuild. The Jaguars own the No. 1 overall pick, the team’s first ever, for the 2021 NFL draft, which they are expected to use on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They are also projected to have $76.2 million in salary-cap space this offseason, the most in the NFL.
Meyer began his head-coaching career in 2001 at Bowling Green, where he led the Falcons to a 17-6 record in two seasons before moving on to Utah, where he went 22-2 in two seasons. Led by quarterback Alex Smith, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, the Utes went 12-0 in 2004 and played in the Fiesta Bowl.
He was then hired by Florida to replace Ron Zook in December 2004. The Gators went 8-5 in their first season under Meyer as they struggled with the transition to his spread offense. But his biggest win came off the field, when he secured a commitment from quarterback Tim Tebow, who was also considering Alabama.
The Gators took off in 2006, with Meyer using Tebow as a change-of-pace quarterback to Chris Leak. The Gators beat Arkansas in the SEC title game and routed Ohio State to win the program’s second national title. Two years later, the Gators won their third national title with a rout of Oklahoma.
A loss to Alabama in the 2009 SEC championship game derailed the Gators’ hopes for a first perfect season and signaled the beginning of the end of Meyer’s tenure at Florida.
The night after that loss, Meyer was rushed to a Gainesville hospital after his wife was unable to wake him up. Meyer had been experiencing chest pains and suffered from dehydration, and the incident scared him. Meyer later announced that he was resigning after Florida’s bowl game for health reasons but changed his mind the following day and instead said he would take a leave of absence.
First-Time NFL Head Coaches
Meyer was diagnosed in January 2010 with esophageal spasms, which caused the severe chest pains he had been experiencing. He began taking medication, made significant lifestyle changes and eventually resumed coaching at the start of spring practice in March 2010.
One day after the Gators’ final regular-season game in 2010 — a 31-7 loss at Florida State — Meyer announced he was resigning for good and that his final game would be the Outback Bowl.
Meyer worked as a college football analyst for ESPN into November 2011 before he accepted the head-coaching job at Ohio State. He led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record in 2012, but the school was ineligible for postseason play because of NCAA sanctions related to former players receiving impermissible benefits from a booster during former coach Jim Tressel’s tenure.
Two years later, Meyer led Ohio State to the national title, upsetting No. 1 Alabama 42-35 in a College Football Playoff semifinal and routing Oregon 42-20 in the championship game.
However, Meyer had another health scare in 2018 when he dropped to his knees on the sideline during a game against Indiana with severe pain in his head. Meyer later revealed that he was dealing with an ongoing issue related to a congenital arachnoid cyst in his brain, which included severe headaches that had gotten worse over two years.
Meyer also was embroiled in a controversy during his final season in Columbus after he was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 1, 2018, after reports surfaced that Meyer knew about spousal abuse allegations against assistant coach Zach Smith. Ohio State had fired Smith the previous week.
After an investigation, Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season. The Buckeyes went 12-1 but missed out on the College Football Playoff, and Meyer announced that he was retiring from coaching after the Rose Bowl for health reasons.
Meyer has spent the past two college football seasons as an analyst for Fox Sports.
The Jaguars are hoping his collegiate success will translate to the pro game. Jacksonville has had just one winning season since 2007 and has lost 10 or more games in nine of the past 10 seasons. The outlier was 2017, when the Jaguars went 10-6, won the AFC South, hosted their first playoff game since the 1999 season and made a surprising run to the AFC Championship Game. The Jaguars won 12 games that season but have won just 12 since.
Meyer will be the fourth coach in Khan’s nine seasons as owner, during which the team is 41-106, including playoffs. In addition to Marrone, Khan has also fired Mike Mularkey (2012) and Gus Bradley (2016).