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Urban Meyer as a Gator

Terron Sanders Replies to Sporting News Article on Urban Meyer

I’d like to start this article with a warning,  I’m simply going to state MY prerogative, my feelings on Urban Meyer & the Gator football program and what I witnessed and learned during my five years at the University of Florida.   If that’s something you feel the need to rebuke, I tell you this….you weren’t shooting in the gym with me. 

Since I announced I would be addressing this issue, I have gotten a lot of questions from my friends, family and fans which I plan to answer each. But before I do, I have one point for my supporters and critics… If Urban Meyer were still coaching in Gainesville, would that article have even been written? Would there be so many people out there rocking the Urban Liar shirts? So many fans saying that our program is broken? That Urban Meyer is a bad person?  Personally I believe these kinds of “expose” (and I say that lightly) articles only surface when feelings are hurt, judgment isn’t utilized, and the victims tend to usually be on their way upward (Coach Meyer).  Unfortunately this article also puts my Gator brothers in the category of victim.  I know the team doesn’t pay much attention to these spiteful articles but who wants to read their program is “broken” when they’re focusing on getting better for their current coach?

Terron Sanders lines upFor the 5 years I was under Coach Meyer at the University of Florida, I went through a lot of ‘growing pains’ and had to learn QUITE a lot.  There were good times and bad times, both with Coach Meyer & my teammates, but in hindsight….I can tell you that I was the determining factor in that equation.   At one point in my career, I was told that at that moment I would not have my scholarship renewed because I was indulging in “college life” a little too much.  That was my wakeup call and I could not thank Coach Meyer enough for that moment.  He saw something better in me and by pushing me even harder, he brought it out.  A year after that sit-down with my parents and Coach Meyer, I turned my ways around, and he invited me to join the Leadership Committee.  This committee was organized by Coach Meyer and was a compilation of players from each recruiting class that were hard working, productive on and off the field, and had the teams’ best interest at heart. The Leadership Committee was used for multiple purposes, team issues, events, or something even as small as what uniforms we were going to wear for each game.  This invitation wasn’t given to me because I smiled at Urb, kissed his ass, or was “special.”  It took a lot of hard work and maturing throughout my first two years with the Gators.  During those first 2 years when I was forced to either mature or avoid success, I never once felt like Coach didn’t want me in this alleged “circle of trust”, I just hadn’t earned recognition because I hadn’t WORKED yet.   I wasn’t rewarded because I wasn’t doing things that I had committed to when I signed the letter of intent to become a Gator.   I wasn’t developing or producing in the way the coaches expected from me on the field.

Fans sometimes tend to overlook that although not as cut-throat, college football is still as much of a business as the NFL.   It is a job for both the coaches and the players;  a job that just like NFL franchises, each University pours massive amounts of money into to have the best team in the nation.   Our jobs as a student athlete on scholarship, is to win games, go to class, and stay out of trouble.   A coach can only have so much control over his players’ actions and decision making.   Coaches are not there to babysit or hold players’ hands if they decide to have a lapse in judgment or maturity.  If a player decides to smoke weed, go out, and get drunk every night then why should they get special treatment?  That wasn’t the case at Florida….we produced both on and off the field and held ourselves to a higher standard.   

For all those Urban Liar proponents, I was asked if I believe Urban would have stayed at Florida had his health came back within a year?  I can’t necessarily answer that spot-on but I can tell you that Urban Meyer recruited me in 2006, and the reason he came back that final year was to send his last recruiting class out. He had made a promise to our class to be there with us our full career at UF, and he wanted to keep that promise.  He cared about all of us, even after Spikes, Tebow, and Hernandez left…much to the bandwagon haters’ dismay….Urban Meyer didn’t treat us all like dirt and praise our big name players.  We were all equal if we put in the effort to succeed.

John FairbanksOn that note, I’d like to tell you about John Fairbanks (our long snapper during my time at Florida) John’s family moved from California to support his decision to come to the Gators as a walk-on.  After seeing Fairbanks’ dedication to our team, hard work and display of good moral character, Urban awarded him a scholarship that ultimately helped pay for his Master’s program.   The spring semester after John’s final season, his scholarship was still awarded despite the fact he was no longer an asset to the team.   During his time at UF, Fairbanks married his wife and had a son.  Coach Meyer always treated John’s wife like family and ensured his son could come to any of our practices. That’s just one tiny example of Coach Meyer’s kindness and good nature, but there are plenty more before and after.

If you still believe that I’m blowing smoke up you’re a**, and that Urb is such an awful person, just stop and take a minute to look back at all of the good that he has done for the city of Gainesville.  He put our football team back on top and made our program one of the most dominant and feared in the NCAA, donated thousands of dollars of his own money for Thanksgiving Day feasts for needy families, and making sure ‘his’ boys were always safe and tried to assure they 'act right.'

If Coach Meyer was such an awful person to all of these former players then how was he able to get us to perform at such a high level and bring home three 13-1 seasons, and two SEC and National titles? Another thing to look at is the fact that during his six year tenure at UF, every year his seniors graduated with one of the highest combined GPA’s in the nation, and the team as a whole always ended the semester in the same fashion.

Coach Meyer never treated a man on his team a certain way unless he was deserving of it. Some kids come into the program with a sense of entitlement because they were highly-rankied recruits out of high school and weren’t ready for the cruel reality of ‘college.’  Just like normal students, some students thrive with the freedom college brings, and some fail miserably.   If you were CEO of a company who was in charge of making sure your associates performed to the best of their ability or else you would lose your job, would you not do whatever you had to do to make that team excel?  I know that personally, if someone wasn’t doing their job or making any attempt to learn from my coaching, I would look at them differently and place another hard-working individual in their place.

I’d like to conclude this article with my personal feeling on the kind of man Coach Meyer is.  On Christmas night I was involved in a car accident which I lost a cousin and best friend, and subsequently my football career.   Two days later I received a call from Coach Meyer checking to make sure that I was physically and mentally OK, to express his  condolences, and told me that if I needed anything to just give him a call. Now I wasn’t a first round pick and I’m not in the NFL making millions of dollars, I was an average player who busted my hump to turn my life around and capitalize on the opportunity I had been given by Coach Meyer.   The one point that disgusted me most about the original article is that we players were given scholarships, a chance to earn a degree from a prestigious school and better our lives, and this is the thanks they show the man who ultimately selected them for this honor. 

Meyer family celebrates beating GeorgiaWe should be thankful for the good things that Urban Meyer brought to this University and the city of Gainesville, and not treat Urban Meyer like an ex who cheated on us with our best friend.  Nobody is perfect and just because someone doesn’t agree with Coach Meyer’s coaching tactics or decision to leave for his home school, that does not make him a bad person.  Urban is simply a man doing what he has done for years before he got to UF; that is simply bring in great talent, win games, and get his players to walk across that stage with a diploma.

In conclusion, I feel that if you want to see a coach with bad moral character, go watch the ‘real’ news or read a newspaper to see the top stories.  Let Coach Meyer continue on with his life to rebuild his current program and let’s support Muschamp and our boys instead of dwelling on any negatives in the past. 

About Terron Sanders

Terron Sanders's picture

Terron Sanders is a former Florida Gator defensive tackle, starting for the Gators in 2008 and 2009 and 2010. Being a former Gator, he has a unique perspective that he brings to his writing. Follow Terron on Twitter at @TerronSanders92.

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