UPDATE (7/13): "I'm not going to Notre Dame. Ever." -- Urban Meyer (h/t: Pat Dooley)
Original Post (7/7):
Would Urban Meyer leave Florida after the 2009 season? That's what Paul Finebaum is spouting -- and rival coaches are using it on the recruiting trail (don't buy it, Matt Elam!)
Circumstantially, it is not entirely a wack-job theory:
*Urban should be coming off his 2nd straight national title, his 3rd in 4 years. Anything left to prove? Hardly.
(Alternative: With the ridiculous recruiting classes the past few years, the team should only get better -- he came to Florida to win championships. His work hasn't even begun to return substantial dividends yet: The whole "2 titles in 3 years" thing is a bonus.)
*His favorite player of all time -- Tim Tebow -- will be leaving the program for the NFL.
(Alternative: And so he would want to go to, say, Notre Dame and coach... a QB he didn't recruit? John Brantley is no Tim Tebow -- frankly, he's a better pure passer and will bring an interesting intellectual challenge for Meyer, Adazzio and Co. to creating an offense around him.)
*The Notre Dame job -- Meyer's so-called "dream job" -- will likely be open next year, after Charlie Weis underachieves...yet again.
(Alternative: Meyer will be coaching well into January. Notre Dame's job may be open as early as mid-November. Meyer wouldn't leave early, and Notre Dame may not be interested in waiting 6 weeks for a new coach -- even Meyer. And no coach would want to enter a situation that late, either.)
So let's get real: Meyer isn't leaving Florida after the 2009 season. He isn't going to Notre Dame after the 2009 season -- perhaps not for a decade after that, either.
If I was a rival coach trying to push a theory, I would go with this:
It is well-established that Urban Meyer loves Bill Belichick. They are, within the coaching fraternity, best friends. Meyer visits the Pats; Belichick visits Gainesville. Meyer models Florida after the way Belichick runs the Patriots.
Patriots owner Bob Kraft loves Urban Meyer, too. Bill Belichick has long been on the record as admiring Tim Tebow, both as a competitor and as a player around whom innovative schemes can be built. Just the kind of challenge Belichick likes.
You see where I'm going here.
The Patriots will draft Tim Tebow, putting him in the enviable position of learning from Tom Brady, while taking a handful of "Wildcat"-style snaps in goal-line and short-yardage situations. At some point, Belichick will retire. At that point, Kraft and Belichick will call Urban Meyer and give him the chance to coach for the best NFL organization, arguably the best NFL owner and reunited with his favorite player.
I'm not saying Meyer will leave Florida to take it. But if he was ever going to take an NFL job, he would take it with the team he admires more than any in the game. It represents a much more compelling opportunity than simply winning more college titles at another university.
So will Meyer leave Florida in 2009 with his star protege? No.
Will he leave eventually? Yes. I give him as many years as it is until Bill Belichick retires from the Patriots.
Then Meyer heads to the NFL, secure in his college football legacy after a half-dozen national titles.
(If it doesn't work out in the NFL -- and maybe it won't -- Meyer would be able to pick his college opportunity: Yes, including Notre Dame. But between his next 5-6 years at Florida and his 3-4 years in the NFL before he decides he doesn't like it, that puts him in South Bend in 2020.)