As Fox Sports is reportedly courting Urban Meyer to bring him back to its airwaves, his most recent employer has a message for anyone considering hiring him.
He’s not to be trusted.
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan opened up about his experience with Meyer in an interview with USA Today’s Jarrett Bell published on Tuesday. He was blunt.
“When you lose the respect, the trust and an issue of truthfulness, how can you work with someone like that?” Khan said. “It’s not possible.”
Khan didn’t make his comments in the context of Fox Sports’ reported interest in Meyer. But his message was relevant for a network considering entrusting Meyer with a national broadcast platform.
The Jaguars fired Meyer as head coach in December before he could complete a disastrous first and only season with the team. Khan announced the firing himself in a statement that he was “bitterly disappointed” to have to do so. Meyer left him little choice.
Why Khan couldn’t trust Meyer
Meyer’s ouster wasn’t about wins and losses – though Jacksonville’s on-field product certainly didn’t help his cause. It was about an onslaught of controversy that mired the franchise in Meyer’s 11-month tenure that eroded the Jaguars’ trust in their head coach.
The breakdown started when Meyer hired exiled Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle last winter, apparently unconcerned that he was fired by the Hawkeyes amid allegations of bullying, intimidation and racist behavior. Doyle resigned in short order when what was obvious in decent society became apparent in Jacksonville. Doyle has no place working in a position of leadership – in the NFL or otherwise.
But it wasn’t obvious to Meyer when he hired him. That, or he just didn’t care.
Then came the Urban Meyer’s Chophouse incident last fall. Fresh off a road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Meyer declined to return to Jacksonville with his team. He instead chose to stay behind in Ohio for a night out at his namesake restaurant and bar in Columbus. There, he was recorded on video, ahem, “dancing” with a woman who was not his wife.
The backlash prompted a public apology from Meyer to the Jaguars and his wife for what he described as a “stupid” incident. Meanwhile, new ownership eventually took control of the Columbus eatery and promptly removed Meyer’s name from the marquee.
The incident was a clear breach of conduct and protocol for a man entrusted with leading an NFL locker room, if only for the fact that he declined to travel home with his team after a road loss. This was four games into his NFL career.
Alleged kick sealed Meyer’s fate
The final straw was a Tampa Bay Times report in December that Meyer kicked and belittled ex-Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo during practice.
“‘Hey dips ***, make your f *** ing kicks,'” Lambo quoted Meyer as telling him in his interview with the Times.
That arrived on the heels of an NFL Network report that tension was boiling over between Meyer, his staff and Jaguars players. Per that report, Meyer referred to members of his coaching staff as “losers.”
Meyer denied the allegations in both reports. But Khan had seen enough. Meyer was fired within hours of the Times report. Khan expounded on the difference between his decision to fire Meyer and the end of other Jaguars coaching tenures to USA Today. It came down to a matter of trust.
“It wasn’t about wins and losses,” Khan said. “I think when you know someone is not truthful, how can you be around someone, OK?
“We had Doug Marrone here for four years. We had Gus Bradley here for four years. I have nothing but the utmost respect and friendship with them. That’s why they got the time, because it wasn’t a matter of respect or truth. It was a matter of wins and losses over four years. This is much bigger than that. “
This is fine with Fox Sports?
This is a man that Fox Sports is reportedly in “deep in negotiations” with to bring back to the network as a college football analyst, according to The Athletic. It’s a role he held prior to joining the Jaguars and a role that Fox Sports is apparently more than happy to see him return.
The network apparently has no qualms with entrusting Meyer with a microphone on live national TV, despite its crumbling credibility.
It turns out that he’s “well-liked by top Fox Sports executives,” according to The Athletic. If he’s ultimately hired, that’s apparently all that matters. Never mind his well-established track record a stark warning from an NFL owner.