Meyer to the Browns was always just a fantasy

By Jim Naveau -

I don’t know if Kevin Stefanski will lead the Browns out of the football wilderness.

I don’t know if after hiring and firing 11 coaches since 1999 the Browns are finally getting it right with this hire.

I don’t know how Stefanski, the son of a former NBA draft choice and current NBA executive Ed Stefanski, ended up as an NFL head coach.

I don’t know if Josh McDaniels was ever close to becoming the Browns coach or if he was the best candidate for the job.

But I do know this. Urban Meyer was never going to be the Browns coach.

Never. Never. Never.

Why do I say that with such certainty?

First of all, Urban Meyer is intense, passionate, driven and probably missed coaching terribly this fall, but he is not insane.

At this point in his life, Urban Meyer is not taking a bad job. And until proven otherwise, being the Browns coach is a bad job.

One of the stories Meyer has told often, and possibly embellished a bit over the years, is that when he was offered his first head coaching job at Bowling Green he told his mentor Earle Bruce he wasn’t sure he wanted to take the job because it wasn’t a good job.

Meyer says Bruce told him, “If it was a good job they wouldn’t be offering it to you.”

That was in 2001. That was the last time Meyer took anything remotely resembling a bad job. And BGSU had been more on the low side of mediocrity than terrible, averaging just under five wins a season, in the five years before he arrived.

When he left Bowling Green for Utah in 2003, the Utes had winning records in eight of the 10 years before he was hired.

The Florida job opened up for him in 2005 when Ron Zook couldn’t match the win totals of the Steve Spurrier years, but Zook’s teams still averaged eight wins a year in his three seasons in Gainesville.

And, obviously, no one ever called Ohio State a bad job.

If Meyer ever coaches again, it will be in a situation where he has the final say all the time or nearly all the time.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was never going to hand over that kind of control to any coach, even one with Meyer’s unbroken record of success.

And finally, while Meyer has adapted to different situations in each of the places he has coached, it’s not a slam dunk he’s built for the NFL, where no one has gone through a season without losing a game in the last 48 years.

Meyer approaches coaching like it is fourth down and goal to go with 10 seconds left in the game 24 hours a day seven days a week. Losing even one game eats away at him.

His intensity is legendary. Someone who worked with him when he was an assistant coach at Notre Dame once said, “Urban has an incredible fire. It either inspires you or incinerates you.”

Two of the key building blocks in his incredible success have been his ability to recruit at the highest level and being able to motivate 18 to 22-year-olds. Recruiting would be irrelevant in the NFL and a locker room full of highly paid players five or 10 years past college age might not pay attention to his attempts to motivate them.

It’s possible Meyer did test the waters about the Browns job and other vacancies in the NFL. But with the Browns all he would have had to do was stick one toe into the water to convince him to put his socks and shoes back on and say, “No, thanks.”

By Jim Naveau

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