To say Urban Meyer's 13-game tenure as the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach was filled with drama and controversy would be an understatement. And on Monday, the former college and NFL head coach himself spoke on those controversies.
On 'Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich', Meyer took questions on the differences between the NFL and college, why he thinks his tenure with the Jaguars went wayward, what losing in the NFL did to his psyche, and the now-infamous kicking allegations from former kicker Josh Lambo.
Meyer was fired on Dec. 16 after just 13 games as the Jaguars' head coach, going 2-11 during that time. His tenure ended as one of the shortest and most disastrous in NFL history, and led to the Jaguars undergoing yet another coaching search this offseason.
The final major story to come out during Meyer's tenure with the Jaguars was, of course, Lambo's allegations to the Tampa Bay Times that Meyer kicked him during a warmup before the 2021 season. This story was not the reason Meyer was fired, but was seen by many as the most significant indictment on Meyer and his tenure.
“I’m in a lunge position. Left leg forward, right leg back,” Lambo told the Tampa Bay Times. “... Urban Meyer, while I’m in that stretch position, comes up to me and says, ‘Hey Dips---, make your f------ kicks!’ And kicks me in the leg.”
“It certainly wasn’t as hard as he could’ve done it, but it certainly wasn’t a love tap,” Lambo told the Times. “Truthfully, I’d register it as a five (out of 10). Which in the workplace, I don’t care if it’s football or not, the boss can’t strike an employee. And for a second, I couldn’t believe it actually happened. Pardon my vulgarity, I said, ‘Don’t you ever f------ kick me again!’ And his response was, ‘I’m the head ball coach, I’ll kick you whenever the f--- I want.’”
Meyer refused the allegations on Monday, telling Dakich that he even had other players back up his side of the story when it came to the Lambo allegations. Despite his refusal of Lambo's version of events, however Meyer did admit to making contact with Lambo with his foot.
“When you come out and say a player was kicked, that’s not true. That's not true at all,” Meyer said on Monday.
"I certainly did not,” Meyer said. “To say I didn’t tap him with my foot… To kick someone? Come on. I’ve done this 37 years. Kick a player? And you know, the other players came up to me and said, ‘We saw the whole thing.’ Because I’d mostly forgotten about it.”
The Lambo incident was far from the only noteworthy failure of the Meyer era, of course. Meyer's demeanor throughout the season was noticeably poor in front of media, players, and coaches, something Meyer noted on Monday was the result of the Jaguars' losing ways.
After rarely losing in college, Meyer faced a massive adjustment at the NFL level. Despite taking over a 1-15 team that was the worst in the NFL in 2020, Meyer evidently wasn't prepared for the losing ways that are frequently present in professional sports, especially with the Jaguars.
This was evident during the Jaguars' five-game losing streak to open the season, a losing streak that Meyer said impacted him to great extents, with Meyer calling it the "worst experience" of his professional life.
“What really got me, I almost don’t want to say people accept it, I mean, you lose a game, and you just keep…I would seriously have self-talk. I went through that whole depression thing too where I’d stare at the ceilings and [think] ‘are we doing everything possible’ because I really believed we had a roster that was good enough to win games," Meyer said. "I just don’t think we did a great job."
“It eats away at your soul. I tried to train myself to say ‘okay, it happens in the NFL. At one point, the Jaguars lost 20 in a row. Think about that. 20 games where you’re leaving the field where you lost. And we lost five in a row at one point and I remember I…just couldn’t function. I was trying to rally myself up, I was in charge of the team, obviously, and then we won two out of three, and I really felt like we flipped that thing."
The Jaguars, of course, didn't flip it. Those two wins -- one against the Miami Dolphins on a game-winning field goal in Week 6 and one in a 9-6 upset of the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 -- were the only wins of Meyer's NFL career. The Jaguars would win just one game in the four games following Meyer's firing as well.
There are countless reasons why the Jaguars failed during Meyer's tenure, ranging from Meyer's mistakes on and off the field, the team's lack of talent around rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Lawrence's own struggles, and the fact that the Jaguars were just one year removed from the worst win/loss season in franchise history.
Meyer noted that one reason for the Jaguars' failures was also the fact that the NFL was so radically different from the college landscape he found massive success in. While the differences between student athletes and professional football players are obvious, there is also the difference between responsibilities held by a college coach and an NFL coach.
These are differences Meyer admitted on Monday he wasn't prepared for -- ranging from practice time to schematic changes to the lack of recruiting at the NFL level.
“You know, the amount of reps you get before you go play a game, to me, was shockingly low," Meyer said. "For example, we would practice, you maybe get one or two reps at something, next thing you know you’re calling it in the game. In college, you never do that. In college, you’re gonna get at least a dozen opportunities to practice that before you ask a player to go do it in the game.
"In professional football, there’s no recruiting. So it’s all scheme and it’s all roster management. You’re getting guys rolling in on your organization on a Tuesday and they’re gonna play for you on a Sunday. So there is some obvious differences to the two games.”
Meyer's tenure with the Jaguars will long go down as one of the biggest failures in NFL history. And judging by his comments on Monday, it was a failure that was long in the making.