It takes a giant story to get us to aim our coverage below the Mason-Dixon, and this is a giant story. By now everyone knows that Ohio's own Urban Meyer will step down as head coach at The University of Florida after coaching the fifth-ranked Gators in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the third-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats. At forty-five years old, and just five years into his tenure, the sympathetic consensus of fans of the sport everywhere is that college football has lost a legend far too soon.
Thankfully, the sporting world isn't literally writing an obituary for Mr. Meyer, who selflessly made the decision on his own accord, and with his troubling heart still beating -- although, reading coverage of the resignation this morning it's easy to forget that Meyer is alive and well.
Where were you when you found out? I ask, not to borrow from the rhetoric of the far more serious assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but to point to the shock-waves that commandeered our attention. I myself missed almost the entire fourth quarter of the Meineke Car Care Bowl, when Chris Spielman broke the news. I jumped out of my chair, flipped open my laptop and desperately cycled through ESPN.com and SportsIllustrated.com to find coverage. Two and a half minutes later, it was confirmed. Later, while dining with family at a local Italian restaurant, I found myself craning my neck to watch the television in the bar as silent updates scrolled on the newsfeed.
That is the effect Urban Meyer has had on our sport. He came and went so quickly, but the energy he brought with him stormed the FBS landscape. It was Meyer's Utes that were the first team to crash the BCS from a non-automatic qualifying conference in 2004. Two years before Chris Peterson and the Boise State Broncos shocked the Oklahoma Sooners with a two-point overtime Statute Left, Meyer's Utah team took down Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. It was Utah's first undefeated season since the Great Depression.
My introduction to Meyer was anything but pleasant. I watched from 40 yard line seats as Meyer's underdog Gators destroyed one of the greatest Buckeye teams to ever play the sport in the 2006 BCS National Championship. There was another rising legend in the building that night too, Number 15.
Tebow and Meyer are inextricably linked. The former led the team, the later, the personnel. Like a mythical father and son, the pair graciously ruled college football. Even in times of gossip and defeat, both were refreshingly true to themselves.
That's why, in the soft light of a December Sunday morning, I think that perhaps this was how it was met to be. After all, it's hard to picture Meyer on the sidelines without Tebow. Now, in a sort of poetic arc, both can take a final bow together.
Urban Meyer was a coach who burned twice as bright, twice as fast.
He will be missed.