On Football: Hernandez's troubles bring scrutiny on Meyer's tenure at Florida

  • Article by: RALPH D. RUSSO , AP College Football Writer
  • Updated: July 10, 2013 - 7:10 AM

Aaron Hernandez's troubles have become Urban Meyer's problem.

A murder charge against Hernandez, who played for Meyer at Florida from 2007-09, has led to greater scrutiny of Meyer's time as Gators head coach — a six-year run highlighted by two national championships and Tim Tebow's Heisman Trophy, but also marked by about two dozen players making the police blotter.

Hernandez was not one of the 25 players who accounted for 31 arrests during Meyer's tenure, but he had issues — "relatively speaking ... very minor stuff" — Meyer said in a recent interview with The Columbus Dispatch.

Those issues included Hernandez's one-game suspension for failing a marijuana test; involvement in a bar fight that police records say left a man injured (no charges were filed); and being questioned as a witness in a shooting.

Meyer, who turned 49 Wednesday, answered critics of his oversight while at the school, saying in a recent statement to the Dispatch and the Gainesville Sun: "Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible."

Yet when Meyer was there, he often spoke out about the virtues of his players.

"I want to make sure that our players, this team goes down as one of the great teams in Florida football history," he said the morning after Tebow and the Gators beat Oklahoma 24-14 in south Florida to win the 2008 national title. "It's one of the greatest groups of young people I've ever been around, and I'm starting to get a little bit of experience behind me now, 20-something years, and that's saying a lot because I've been around some great young guys."

Later in the news conference, Meyer was asked what he had learned about running a program like Florida after stops at Bowling Green and Utah.

"It still comes down to getting guys to go as hard as they can, it all comes down to getting guys to graduate, to live right. At the end of the day you want a bunch of players that are committed to the right thing. And it's not easy to get that. It's not easy. In 20-something years of coaching, on one hand I can hold the amount of teams that I've been around the kids that do it the right way. I'm not talking about a few, I'm talking about the core of your team if you do it the right way, and we've got it here at Florida."

Meyer set the bar high for his players and his program. When it failed to meet those standards, he became an easy target for his critics — of which there are now many.

"When a coach starts talking about how strong he is on discipline, and then things go wrong, people get all over him — when actually he's no different from anybody else," said former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who went 0-5 against Meyer's Gators and considers his old rival a friend.

Meyer certainly didn't pick up many fans at rival schools during his time at Florida. His Gators feasted on most of the Southeastern Conference and dominated the school's fiercest rivals. Against Georgia, Tennessee and Florida State, Meyer went 16-2 and showed no mercy in doing so.

When Meyer resigned for a second time as Gators coach — but this time for good — after an 8-5 2010 season to address health issues and spend more time with his family, many Florida fans felt abandoned and betrayed by him.

He left Gainesville with the program trending down, went to work for ESPN during his season away from coaching, and was introduced as coach of the Buckeyes in his home state of Ohio less than a year after he quit at Florida.

"That comes with the territory," Bowden told the AP in a phone interview Tuesday. "How many times can you think of a successful coach leaving a school and that school not feeling some animosity toward him?"

The Hernandez case has provided an opportunity to re-visit Meyer's record, and also to note that despite his proclamations, not all was right with the Gators. A case can be made that Meyer was a) lax when it came to discipline, and, b) willing to take on players of questionable character.

"Every coach has some skeletons in his closet somewhere," Bowden said.

And right now, Meyer's is being inspected.

____

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

  • related content

  • Video: Allegation: Hernandez told Wallace he shot Lloyd

    Wednesday July 10, 2013

    Carlos Ortiz, one of the alleged accomplices in the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation, reportedly said that he was told...

  • FILE - In this Dec. 27, 2010 file photo, Florida head coach Urban Meye...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close