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Urban Meyer lost 11 of the 13 games the Jacksonville Jaguars played this season, but the reason he was fired Wednesday night is he ultimately lost something much more valuable: the trust and respect of owner Shad Khan.
Khan fired Meyer 11 months into his five-year contract.
“After deliberation over many weeks and a thorough analysis of the entirety of Urban’s tenure with our team, I am bitterly disappointed to arrive at the conclusion that an immediate change is imperative for everyone,” Khan said in a statement. “I informed Urban of the change this evening. As I stated in October, regaining our trust and respect was essential. Regrettably, it did not happen.”
In October, Meyer responded to a Thursday night loss to the Cincinnati Bengals by curiously not flying back to Duval County with his team. He stayed behind in Ohio, he said, to attend a wedding.
That weekend, the coach of a struggling team was not in his office trying to correct course but rather was seen at a bar with a woman (not his wife) grinding on his lap as they held beverages and music played.
That’s when Khan first spoke of the coach needing to regain trust.
Sadly for Meyer, he was a mess at his assignment.
He reportedly had disagreements with players and called his assistant coaches “losers” while telling them he is a “winner.”
All while the Jaguars continued losing.
On Wednesday, Meyer was named in a story in the Tampa Bay Times as having kicked his former kicker Josh Lambo during warmups prior to a preseason game against Dallas.
“I’m in a lunge position. Left leg forward, right leg back,” Lambo told the newspaper. “… Urban Meyer, while I’m in that stretch position, comes up to me and says, ‘Hey Dips–t, make your f–king kicks!’ And kicks me in the leg.
“It certainly wasn’t as hard as he could’ve done it, but it certainly wasn’t a love tap,” Lambo added. “Truthfully, I’d register it as a five (out of 10). Which in the workplace, I don’t care if it’s football or not, the boss can’t strike an employee. And for a second, I couldn’t believe it actually happened. Pardon my vulgarity, I said, ‘Don’t you ever f–king kick me again!’ And his response was, ‘I’m the head ball coach, I’ll kick you whenever the f–k I want.’ “
Meyer denied the incident happened the way Lambo related it, but that’s not the point. The fact Lambo was released after he missed his first three field goal attempts to start the season also isn’t the point.
The point is the Jaguars have enough problems being a team that generally has less talent and experience than its opponents, and so they’re struggling with a 2-11 record. That’s bad enough.
But, unfortunately for the franchise, that’s not all because the coach is having management issues and people skills issues that add drama.
And in the worst possible timing ever, this latest drama came on the same day quarterback Trevor Lawrence talked about the need to turn the volume down on drama.
“You’re always going to have some form of drama,” Lawrence said, according to the transcript released by the Jaguars. “I’ve learned that even just the NFL is more drama in general than college, no matter where you’re at. But you’re right, there’s been a lot, and to your point, I do think that has to change. That’s something that we need to work on for sure.
“You can’t always be in the headlines; you just have to go play football. That’s where we’re trying to get, and I have no doubt we’ll get there.”
The fact the face of the franchise was speaking in this manner gave Khan yet another reason to fire Meyer. Because if Lawrence was feeling this way, it’s a good bet the majority of the players were as well.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell becomes the interim head coach in Jacksonville for the final four games.
“[General manager] Trent Baalke continues as our general manager and will work with Darrell to ensure that our team will be inspired and competitive while representing Jacksonville proudly over our final four games of the season,” Khan said in his statement. “In the spirit of closure and recharging our players, staff and fan base, I will not comment further until some point following the conclusion of the NFL season.”
It’s obviously too early to know what direction the Jaguars’ imminent coaching search will take. Former Eagles coach Doug Pederson is likely to be considered, as will Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who interviewed with the team in the last coaching search.
There is also a chance this will be a noteworthy search if Khan gives Baalke significant say in the matter. If that happens, Baalke could suggest interviewing Ryan Day, who was the quarterback coach with the San Francisco 49ers the final year Baalke was the general manager there in 2016.
Day is currently the head coach at Ohio State, where he’s enjoyed great success with a 33-4 record.
And it would not go unnoticed the man Jacksonville just fired was also once the head coach at Ohio State, where he enjoyed great success.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero