Arizona State’s 34-13 loss to Utah at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday highlights an obvious and hugely controversial point: Ray Anderson needs to call Urban Meyer.
ASU is looking for a new leader after the abrupt departure of Herm Edwards, and there’s pressure on Anderson to make a bold impression with hiring as major programs realign with superconferences. lucrative.
Talking to Meyer is nothing if not daring.
Urban Meyer’s career has been marked by success and scandal, so much so that it’s hard to imagine a more polarizing candidate. He’s either a misunderstood winner or whatever is wrong with big sports. And if I’m the athletic director at Arizona State, I’m making the call anyway.
Meyer put Utah on the map in the early 2000s before winning three national championships with Florida and Ohio State. Before Meyer, Utah was a midfield program in the Mountain West, just as likely to finish with a losing record as it was to a Las Vegas Bowl, Freedom Bowl or Copper Bowl.
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Meyer showed up in time for the 2003 season and went 22-2. Utah had gone 26-20 in the four years leading up to it.
In 2004, Meyer led Utah to a 12-0 record, a Fiesta Bowl victory and a 4th-place finish. It remains one of the best seasons in the history of a program that dates back to 1905.
Meyer’s two-year run, in many ways, set the stage for the success Utah enjoys today. His defensive coordinator and successor was Kyle Whittingham, who led Utah to a second-place finish and appearances in the Roses and Sugar Bowls over the past 19 seasons.
After Utah, Meyer went to Florida, where he led the Gators to two national championships in six seasons.
From there, he won another national championship at Ohio State, as well as victories in the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Cotton Bowls.
If that was all there was to Urban Meyer’s story, his hire would be a no-brainer, assuming ASU could even afford it.
But in Florida, he chaired a program that saw more than two dozen players arrested on various charges, according to a tally compiled by the Orlando Sentinel.
At Ohio State, Meyer was suspended for failing to properly supervise an assistant coach who was abusive toward his ex-wife.
Then, during a brief stint in the NFL, 13 games with the Jaguars in 2021, Meyer was fired with a 2-11 record. Players said he was verbally abusive and skipped a team flight to go clubbing with a woman who was not his wife.
And if I’m Ray Anderson, I call him to set up an appointment.
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I would ask about each scandal in detail. What happened? When did it happen? And above all, what did he learn?
Was there anything he could have done to help Aaron Hernandez, a player who would later be convicted of murder before killing himself in a jail cell? Hernandez was questioned in a shootout and charged with hitting a nightclub bouncer while in Gainesville. Looking back, did Meyer do enough to help?
It could be that Meyer reached out to help a struggling young man and prepared him for a life-changing opportunity in the NFL. It could be that Meyer’s influence subsided and stabilized before the inevitable.
Anderson should ask and find out.
What about the domestic abuse charges against former assistant Zach Smith? Meyer said at the time that he tried to get his former protege treatment for anger and drug issues, and eventually fired Smith. Sounds like a good mentor, to me. But does Meyer stick to that? Was it enough? What else could he have done in hindsight?
Considering all the issues, it would be a high bar to cross before recommending Meyer for the ASU job, but he’s been vetted and cleared of enough wrongdoing to qualify and get other top jobs. .
After Florida, he was hired by Ohio State. After Ohio State, he is hired by Jacksonville. And he currently works as an analyst for Fox Sports.
But the punch Utah put on ASU on Saturday shows the need for strong leadership with the Sun Devils.
At the very least, Anderson could tap enough into Meyer’s brain to gather ideas on how to run a successful program.
But it could be that being bold enough to give Meyer a new opportunity will bring ASU the level of success it so craves.
Anderson should call Meyer and figure it out.
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