News broke early Thursday morning that former Utah head football coach Urban Meyer is finalizing talks to become the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Meyer is "highly interested" in the job, "and the two sides are interested in trying to finalize a deal this week." Meyer has been linked with the Jaguars since the team fired coach Doug Marrone on Jan. 4, and he met with owner Shad Khan six days ago in Florida to discuss the job.
But according to reports, a lot of the holdup has ben due to issues regarding facilities and the finalizing of the staff. Khan wanted to hear more about Meyer's plans on who he planned to hire, not originally being sold on the idea of Meyer's infatuation with certain current college coordinators. But Meyer has now received assurances on who he wants on staff, which was the final remaining hurdle.
Utah fans should be excited that one their former coaches — and one of the greatest college coaches of all-time — is landing an NFL head coaching gig, especially when it further validates his coaching lineage regarding current Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham.
But there is another reason Utah fans want to pay close attention to this development. There have been rumors that Meyer is incredibly high on current Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley, a former player of his who is widely regarded as one of the top young defensive minds in all of college football.
It's unknown at this point if Scalley is being targeted for either the defensive coordinator position with the Jaguars or as a position coach. But it's rumored that he's considered to be one of Meyer's top targets to have on staff.
“Well, when I first heard, obviously Morgan Scalley is like a family member to us and we’ve stayed very close contact,” Meyer told KSL Sports in July, 2020. “I texted him right away, stayed in touch with him throughout, dove into it a little bit. But, I can’t speak to that situation and I won’t because I’m not educated enough to do that. I am educated enough to speak to who Morgan Scalley is as a person because I was very close with him. For those two years, I mean, he was my captain, he’s my leader. The amount of conversations that we had man, so much beyond football, I used to do firesides with him. That’s how much respect I have for him and I love Morgan Scalley, love his family, love his parents and so hopefully this all works out.”
The question remains though, would Scalley leave the snow and the mountains of Salt Lake City for the sunshine and the beaches of Jacksonville?
It's definitely worth asking as the answer isn't imminent. Scalley is Utah born and bred, a former star high school and college player in the state who loves everything about the Utes — and he's made it known in the past that he wants to one day be the Utah head coach.
That's why as of Dec. 2019, his contract had the terms and title 'Head Coach In-Waiting' added to it. It signified his commitment to the Utes and their commitment to him as it became known that Whittingham was nearing the end of his coaching career.
But disaster struck this past summer for Scalley.
Following stunning allegations that he used a racial slur in a text message exchange with a recruit back in 2013, he was suspended pending the results of the investigation.
After the turmoil, it was announced by Utah athletic director Mark Harlan and Whittingham that Scalley would remain on staff as defensive coordinator, albeit with certain changes to his current contract among other things.
1) Coach Scalley will engage with leadership of the University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team, including Vice President Mary Ann Villarreal. He will participate in regular and on- going diversity and inclusion education, and will be expected to be a key partner in addressing issues of racism and bias in the Utah Athletics Department, the University and the broader community.
2) In December 2019, the University and Coach Scalley verbally agreed to a multi-year extension of his contract, increasing his annual compensation to $1.1 million. Instead, his new contract will revert to his 2018 compensation level in the form of a one-year term for $525,000.
3) In December 2019, Director of Athletics Mark Harlan extended a verbal offer to Coach Scalley to become the Head Coach In-Waiting, which Harlan has now rescinded.
“It’s been a blessing just to be back with the players again, understanding that I’ve got a lot of work to do in gaining their trust back,” Scalley said. “I had a lot of very open and honest conversations with our players. It’s been fantastic. ... I love my job. I love teaching and coaching, not only doing things with our team but with our athletic department. It’s been a blessing to be back with the players I love.”
With that title now stripped of him and his pay significantly diminished, there's nothing holding Scalley to the Utes now. If Meyer comes with a lucrative offer and the opportunity to coach at the highest level, it's something Scalley will have to consider.
The question is though, if Scalley still wants to be the head coach of Utah one day, is this technically the correct move? Moving to the NFL is smart career wise but taking over one of the worst defenses in the league in Jacksonville, a team with very little talent on that side of the ball, could be a monumental task for a first-time NFL defensive coordinator.
If Scalley is offered the safeties position coach, the same job he's held his entire 13-year tenure with the Utes, it's unlikely that an NFL position coach will then be directly offered a college head coaching gig.
There's another potential move for Scalley to make. He could use his agent to negotiate with the Utes and get his 'Head Coach In-Waiting' title back as long as he stays with the program.
The entire situation is still fluid as of Thursday morning — Meyer hasn't even officially been named head coach yet. But this is definitely scenario is something Utah fans want to keep an eye on...
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