The Jaguars have hired Urban Meyer as their new head coach, turning to one of the most successful college coaches in NCAA history to help spur a turnaround of one of the NFL’s worst franchises.
“This is a great day for Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere,” team owner Shad Khan said in a statement. “Urban Meyer is who we want and need, a leader, winner and champion who demands excellence and produces results. While Urban already enjoys a legacy in the game of football that few will ever match, his passion for the opportunity in front of him here in Jacksonville is powerful and unmistakable.”
Meyer’s hiring comes after regular communication between him and the Jaguars. Sources previously told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Meyer had been assembling a coaching staff, including some assistants from the college ranks, ahead of taking the Jaguars job.
“I’m ready to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars,” Meyer said in a statement. “Jacksonville has an enthusiastic fan base, and the fans deserve a winning team. With upcoming opportunities in the NFL Draft, and strong support from ownership, the Jaguars are well-positioned to become competitive. I’ve analyzed this decision from every angle — the time is right in Jacksonville, and the time is right for me to return to coaching. I’m excited about the future of this organization and our long term prospect for success.”
Former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who was at LSU in 2020, is emerging as a prime candidate to become Meyer’s offensive coordinator in Jacksonville, a source told ESPN’s Todd Archer and Jeremy Fowler.
Meyer won three national championships and compiled a 187-32 college coaching record during stints at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. He won two of those titles (2006, 2008) with the Gators, whom he led to a 65-15 record in six seasons. He also led the Buckeyes to the 2014 national title and compiled an 83-9 record in seven seasons in Columbus, Ohio.
He will be the sixth head coach in Jaguars history, replacing Doug Marrone, whom Khan fired Jan. 4 after the Jaguars finished their worst season in franchise history (1-15). Marrone had a 25-44 record (including playoffs) in four seasons with the Jaguars.
The Jaguars gave up a franchise-record 492 points last season, becoming the fifth team since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978 to allow at least 20 points in every game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Offensively, the Jaguars ranked 28th or worse in yards per game, rushing and scoring. They ranked 21st in passing, which is largely a product of falling behind big in games and having to abandon the run.
But Jacksonville has assets with which to launch a rebuild. The Jaguars own the No. 1 overall pick, the team’s first ever, for the 2021 NFL draft, which they are expected to use on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They are also projected to have $76.2 million in salary-cap space this offseason, the most in the NFL.
Meyer began his head-coaching career in 2001 at Bowling Green, where he led the Falcons to a 17-6 record in two seasons before moving on to Utah, where he went 22-2 in two seasons. Led by quarterback Alex Smith, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, the Utes went 12-0 in 2004 and played in the Fiesta Bowl.
He was then hired by Florida to replace Ron Zook in December 2004. The Gators went 8-5 in their first season under Meyer as they struggled with the transition to his spread offense. But his biggest win came off the field, when he secured a commitment from quarterback Tim Tebow, who was also considering Alabama.
The Gators took off in 2006, with Meyer using Tebow as a change-of-pace quarterback to Chris Leak. The Gators beat Arkansas in the SEC title game and routed Ohio State to win the program’s second national title. Two years later, the Gators won their third national title with a rout of Oklahoma.
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SOURCE: ESPN, Michael DiRocco