Oh, there’s life after Tim Tebow at the University of Florida. Urban Meyer, who stepped down as the head coach of the Gators for all of about 2 minutes, is back and ready to lead UF again 2010. Tebow is gone, but Florida just reloads its roster with talented young kids from around the state and country. Under center will be John Brantley, a highly touted high school signal caller that has been waiting for his turn behind Tebow for an opportunity to run the show. Well, that time is just about here. College football is less than two months away, and though Florida finds itself outside the top five in most preseason polls, they’ll be right there come November and December competing for an SEC title and perhaps more.
Meyer joined 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis to talk about his health, what it was that was bothering him physically, losing a leader like Tim Tebow, how he thinks John Brantley has a lot of the same skills as Chris Leak, how he tried not to get caught up in the hysteria surrounding Tebow’s draft status earlier this winter and spring, and how he and his team are going to try to enjoy themselves more this coming season as the hunters rather than the hunted.
On how he’s feeling physically:
“I feel really good. I found out what was causing the issues and taking care of it, feeling good, I have a good football team, a great family so I’m looking forward to it.”
On if he’s comfortable talking about what was ailing him:
“Well for three years I was just dealing with chest pains, and I was getting them checked out by cardiologists around and they said your heart’s in good shape. I’ve had some friends with heart issues in the coaching profession, so I was getting a little worried about it, and then it got real bad this year. I had a couple situations that were pretty scary. And then they found out it had to do with esophageal spasms and you have to get control of it or it could become something serious. I’ve been on medication, and it’s a little deeper than that – I’ve got to learn to take care of myself a little bit better – but that’s what the source of the problem was, which caused a lot of the anxiety. You’re worried about that you’re having an issues, that doesn’t make life any easier.”
On replacing Tim Tebow:
“Well I miss Tim. I speak to him about once a week. Obviously our relationship is as close as I’ve ever had with a player. We’ve got a guy named John Brantley, who’s a tremendous talent, he’s a different style of player, he’s more of the Chris Leak mold from 2006 when he was our quarterback. Very good young team around him. It’s maybe not a team of superstars, but it’s a team with some very, very good players that I can feel has a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, which is great to coach a team that has a chip as opposed to being the targeted one all the time. So it’s a little different this year, but we have good players.”
On why he thinks Tebow ended up being drafted in the first round when it appeared as if he had no chance of going so high during the lead up to the draft:
“Yeah, I actually wasn’t doing interviews for awhile because it was just nonsense. You were sitting there talking about one of the most prolific football players of all time, the highest passer percentage in SEC history and the second rated passer in the history of college football. Two national championships, a Heisman Trophy, and someone’s saying I’m not sure he can play quarterback. But the people who know – certainly Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels and Jack Del Rio, they weren’t saying that. To be honest, I don’t know who was saying it. I was hearing it, but I wasn’t watching the talking heads very much. But the people I was talking to, he was going to be a first round draft pick the whole time.”
On how much time he spends with his players trying to get them to maximize their ability:
“If that’s what people think then I think we’ve done a good job, and I think our staff all believes in that. Two years ago, after the ’08 National Championship, Chuck Heater who’s been with me a long time was sitting there talking about how the intent used to be just to get guys degrees. Nowadays, a college degree won’t even guarantee you a job. So now we’ve taken it to the next level and we call the ‘Real Life Tuesdays’. We’re teaching them how to interview, we’re teaching them the whole process of life after football, and it’s not just get your degree, get your degree, because that’s not going to guarantee you a job. There’s a lot of people getting their degree that are having a hard time finding work. So the best way to do that is to bring in other athletes and community leaders. We meet in small groups, we have one-on-one’s and then we have big lectures about life after football. So we’ve devoted a lot of even practice to make sure these young guys have a life after football.”
On what he expects out of Brantley this coming fall:
“I think he’ll be one of the best throwers. The leadership, the toughness and all those things are all to be determined. But what he’s shown so far in practice and in spring ball, and from what I hear he’s doing this summer, he’s going to be a really, really good player for us.”