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Kickin' back: Life 'really good' for Gainesville's newest idol

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published March 20, 2005


When he took over as Florida football coach on Dec. 7, Urban Meyer said he had three priorities in his life: his children, his wife and football - in that order. For the past 103 days, Meyer has been concentrating on the latter. Spring practice is under way and Meyer is preparing to make his mark on the Gators football program. Meyer spent a few moments with Times staff writer Antonya English to talk about family, his ideal evening and what might have been his other profession.

What was the first thing you did after you decided to take the Florida job?

The first thing I did was start calling people about putting together a coaching staff.

Who was the first person to call and congratulate you after it was made public?

My family. My sisters and my father.

Your sister was quoted shortly after you took the job saying she told you, "Let's get a boat and move to Florida." Did you get the boat yet?

No, we don't have a boat (laughs).

Did anybody call after you took the job that surprised you?

Yeah, I had a great relationship with (Oklahoma coach) Bobby Stoops. It wasn't like we go way back, but ever since that Thursday night before I took the job. Friday I took it, and I believe it was Thursday night, I was on the phone with him for 11/2 hours. We're of very similar backgrounds and I was surprised at how open he was and his actual concern that I evaluate the whole thing before I decided which school I was going to go to. (By then Notre Dame had thrown its hat into the ring).

What's the first thing you put up in the office when you arrived?

My kids. As you can see, they are all around (pointing to multiple pictures of his children Nicole, 14, Gigi, 11, and Nathan, 6.)

Last book you didn't finish?

(Long pause). I don't finish a lot of them. Oh, I remember, Wild at Heart.

Last movie you saw.

(Even longer pause). I was just watching one the other night. I was sitting at home and a good one came on and I watched it. I can't remember the name. I'll have to come back to that one.

If you had $1 for every time you were asked a multiple wives joke by people who didn't live in Utah, how much money would you have?

A bundle. A huge bundle (laughs).

Have you ever met Donny and Marie?

No.

What's the most money you've ever spent on a watch?

I've never spent any. ... I have too many bowl watches.

You're driving down a road and Bobby Bowden, Mark Richt and Phil Fulmer are stranded with flat tires. You're in a convertible and you only have one seat. Who gets the ride?

Bobby Bowden, because he's won so many games.

Which would you rather run, 5K or 10K?

5K. It's shorter.

I read where your wife, Shelley, beat you in a distance race. Have you ever beaten her?

Not in a running race, no.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs. I'm not a big cat man.

Slurpee or milkshake?

Milkshake. That's one of my vices.

Gatorade or Powerade?

No question which one, for obvious reasons. (Gatorade was developed at University of Florida).

Your father, Bud, jokingly said the reason you're so good at coaching is because you work so hard at it. And the reason you work so hard at it is because you don't have any other skills (Meyer has a degree in psychology from Cincinnati and a master's in sports administration from Ohio State). If you weren't coaching, what would you be doing?

You know, I've often thought about that. I almost went to law school. I love law. My wife talked me out of that. But there are no interests for me other than my kids and coaching.

What was your idea of a perfect evening 15 years ago before your children were born, and what's a perfect evening for you now?

A perfect evening 15 years ago was probably a Jimmy Buffet concert with my wife, and a perfect evening now is being with my kids doing nothing.

What's the best part about being a high-profile college football coach?

The best part... is the relationship with players. That's the only reason I do what I do.

And the worst part?

The worst part is dealing with off-the-field issues like South Carolina is dealing with now. ... You wouldn't wish that on your worst enemy because it's horrible ... so many lives affected. That's the horrible part of coaching.

What are you most looking forward to on Sept. 3 (season opener)?

Seeing the pageantry and watching our team play with discipline, excitement and passion. I'm real excited for that day.

They chant your name during timeouts at basketball games, among other things. Has any of the idolatry or massive attention you've gotten from Gator fans surprised you?

No. It surprised me at Bowling Green and Utah because it's not this. And when I left Utah it was like this. So probably it surprised me more there than here. Here, it is what it is. This is one of the top five (programs).

So far, has everything been good?

Oh, it's been really good. Really good.