Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer talks with his players during their annual spring game on April 13 in Cincinnati. (AP Photo)
ORLANDO, Fla. — Urban Meyer did not want to leave Florida, but he said he did not have a choice because of serious health concerns.
The sudden departure left a bad taste in the mouths of Gators fans and later would leave Meyer with a sense of regret with how everything ended in Gainesville.
At least this is how Meyer recalls his unpopular decision as his second season at Ohio State approaches.
In a wide-ranging interview with CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler, a former Gators beat writer for the Orlando Sentinel, Meyer said he would still be coaching football at Florida if not for health concerns that led to a brief retirement after the 2009 season and his decision to step down a year later.
Meyer told CBSSports.com in February 2011 he telephoned Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley and told him, “I made a mistake,” Meyer recalled.
“Once I felt like everything was under control, it was like, 'Oh my gosh, what did I do?' " Meyer told the website.
Meyer said he discussed getting back into to coaching, with Foley being “very supportive.” Working at ESPN during the 2011 season did not fill the void leaving coaching had created for Meyer. He accepted the Ohio State job before the end of the season, or 11 months after he “retired.”
Meyer maintains he did not expect for things to play out this way.
For some Florida fans, two national championships in six seasons under Meyer does not remove the sting. The Buckeyes going 12-0 in his first season did not help ease any hurt feelings.
“I look back now, the way it ended certainly was a regret,” Meyer told CBSSports.com. “Does that mean it haunts me? Not at all.
“It just wasn’t a normal way to move on.”
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