Urban Meyer addressed the media from New Orleans Sunday explaining his decision to take an indefinite leave of absence 24 hours after announcing his resignation.
"During this past week I was offered and encouraged to take a leave of absence," Meyer said. "After spending time at practice this morning, I've decided to take this leave of absence to focus on my health."
Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley presented this option to Meyer during week-long discussions about the coach's future. Meyer also said family members and close friends encouraged this course of action.
Meyer said his relationship with players played a large part in his decision to not completely relinquish his role. He went on to say his role in the Sugar Bowl will be that of head coach before turning over the reigns to Steve Addazio. "It's full speed ahead and we are going to do everything we can to win this game," Meyer said.
Foley said his reasoning for giving Meyer this leave of absence was out of a sense of fairness to him (Meyer), that it was "the right thing to do for the institution" and the program at Florida.
Meyer said his health had deteriorated over the last four years with increasing chest pains and fatigue. He also stated he wanted to re-focus his commitment to his family and his faith. After several consultations, doctors advised him his health should be his chief concern in the near future.
As to what changes he would make, Meyer said, "It's something I've got to figure out. I'm going to attempt to get this fixed."
Meyer did not have specific plans for his convalescence, stating he wanted what was best for the program and his family.
He did say he plans to return to the sidelines in 2010 but qualified the statement saying things would be discussed with parties involved following the bowl game.
Foley said he wanted Meyer to take as much time as needed and that he was confident that the program would remain headed in the right direction.
Steve Addazio, current offensive coordinator at Florida, will take the role of interim head coach in the meantime. Addazio is in his first year at Florida after a stellar high school head coaching career and several years as an assistant including stops at Syracuse, Notre Dame and Indiana before joining Meyer's staff in 2005 as offensive line coach. According to Florida Gators coaches bio website, Addazio coached in eight bowl games and four BCS games in the past twelve years and has coached some 21 players drafted into the NFL.
"I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program," Meyer said in a statement. "I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to reevaluate my priorities of faith and family."
Meyer is 56-10 in his five years at Florida with two SEC Championships and BCS Championships.Powered by Sidelines