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Giger: Meyer's decision bad news for Penn State

Commentary

December 9, 2010
By Cory Giger, cgiger@altoonamirror.com

All jokes aside -- like he's retired twice at 46 while Joe Paterno is still going at 83 -- Urban Meyer's decision is bad news for Penn State.

Florida has not been very good this season. Let's get that out of the way first.

The Gators are 7-5 and have a weak offense, so they shouldn't be confused with anything close to the Tim Tebow years.

For that reason, and because perennial power Florida wouldn't care much about playing in this caliber of bowl, I gave the Nittany Lions the benefit of the doubt with my initial Outback Bowl prediction: Penn State 23, Florida 21.

Now I'm thinking PSU will get hammered.

Something like Gators 31, Lions 13.

There's a chance the Florida players will quit on their lame-duck coach and fail to show any passion in the New Year's Day game. That possibility would be great for Penn State.

But I just don't see it happening.

The greater likelihood is the Gators will be fired up and emotional looking to send off their coach the right way. Meyer, meanwhile, will have the motivation of coaching perhaps the final game of his life -- although I think he'll be back somewhere -- and will hold nothing back in the game plan.

Look for Florida to try lots of gimmick plays, do some crazy stuff like going for it in questionable situations and for the Gator offense to explode against the Lions' weak run defense that lacks playmakers.

Players often develop a special kinship with a departing coach and raise their play to another level. If that happens with the Gators, Penn State will be in trouble.

The one thought that keeps popping in my head about this whole Meyer situation is the reminder that it will be impossible for any coach to ever match what Paterno has done at Penn State.

To win 400 games at one school in major college football truly is an unbelievable accomplishment. The pressure on coaches nowadays is ridiculous, and we've seen two examples of it in the past two days.

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt was fired Tuesday despite going 26-12 the past three years. He was 10-3 just last season and 9-4 the year before that, but he couldn't even keep a job at his alma mater because he flopped in virtually every big game.

That's external pressure.

Meyer felt the opposite kind, the internal pressure that comes with the guilt of living a difficult lifestyle.

The coach is still a young man and has won two national titles in the past five years, yet he's calling it quits because he wants to spend more time with his family.

That's noble and all, but I can't help but think: Give me a break. Meyer is making $4 million a year and has one of the greatest football jobs in the world, so it's hard to feel sorry for him that he couldn't find a way to delegate responsibilities in a way that would allow him to enjoy a more fruitful personal life.

We all make sacrifices in life, and 99.999 percent of us don't make $4 million a year for those sacrifices. So this is just another example of how athletes and coaches don't live in the same reality as the rest of us.

Regardless, Meyer feels like he's had enough and that the pressures he faced weren't worth his personal sacrifices any longer.

It's just too bad for Penn State that he came to that realization now.

Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or cgsports12@aol.com.

 
 

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