Urban Meyer to Step Down as Head of Gator Nation

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University of Florida's head coach Urban Meyer gestures to the bench after team failed to score against Vanderbilt University during the second quarter of their NCAA football game in Gainesville, Florida November 7, 2009. REUTERS/Scott Audette

And fans at the University of Florida say, “Here we go again.”

Urban Meyer, who has been at the helm of Gator Nation since 2005, stepped down from his post for the first time on Dec. 26, 2009 because of health issues with esophageal spasms and headaches that resulted from an arachnoid cyst. But the next day he announced that, upon further reflection, he would take a leave of absence instead. By March he was back in the hot seat.

(Read TIME’s article, “Are College Football Coaches Out of Control?”)

There’s reason to believe he has considered his decision to retire more carefully this time around. Last year’s decision came after he was placed in hospital suffering from chest pains and dehydration. Adding insult to injury, that occurred the day after Florida lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

Here’s how Urban framed his retirement yesterday in a statement issued by the University of Florida:

“I have been a Division I football coach for the last 25 years and, during that time, my primary focus has been making a difference in the lives of the young men I have been so fortunate to have coached and building championship programs. At this time in my life, however, I fully grasp the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field.”

(See the Top 10 Sports Superstitions.)

He went on to say he’d like to have time to “cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports.”

During six seasons at Florida, Meyer has led the Gators to two national championships and three SEC East crowns, and will enter the Outback Bowl with a 64-15 record. Under his tenure the Gators also won a school-record 22 consecutive games, and re-established their dominance over traditional rivals Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida State. (via NY Times)