In his only interview since being fired early Thursday, former Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said that he recently spoke to Jimmy Johnson, the last coach to follow a highly-successful college career with a highly-successful NFL career. Appearing on Fox’s Sunday pregame show, Johnson said some things that shed some light on the things that Meyer surely said to Johnson.
“Going to Jacksonville, just like when I went to Dallas, you knew you were gonna lose, you’re gonna have adversity,” Johnson said. “The difference is, in Dallas, I had my entire coaching staff from college. I had my administrative assistant, I had my P.R. director, I had my trainer. We were all on the same page when we had adversity. He didn’t have that in Jacksonsville. There was a lot of backstabbing, one thing or the other, because he didn’t have his people.”
Johnson made the jump to the Cowboys straight from the University of Miami, making it easier for him to transplant his entire operation. Meyer had exited coaching for two seasons before deciding to give the NFL a try.
Presumably, Johnson cautioned Meyer about the fact that it wouldn’t be as easy as taking his current staff from Ohio to Florida. But that wasn’t the point on Sunday. As noted by Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Meyer and Johnson are friends — and Johnson actually helping entice Meyer to take the job. Johnson was trying to make an excuse for Meyer, one based not on Meyer’s own missteps but on the belief that one or more people betrayed him.
Then there’s the fact that Meyer hired the various people who worked with him in Jacksonville. They may not have been “his people” in Ohio, but they instantly became “his people” in Jacksonville. And if Meyer so quickly alienated “his people” to the point that they stabbed him in the back, that’s in large part on him.
Of course, any backstabbing happened because Meyer combined an abrasive style with chronic losses. If the Jaguars had gone 11-2 and not 2-11, he’d still be there. The losses combined with his allegedly confrontation manner laid a foundation of dysfunction. His decision to not return from Cincinnati to Jacksonville after a Thursday night game became the de facto green light for disgruntled players and assistants to air grievances about Meyer to anyone would who listen.
And here we are. Under the versions shared by Meyer and Johnson, we’re expected to believe that Meyer is victim. Maybe Meyer didn’t realize how right he was when he said that “everything is so fragile right now.“