Florida coach Urban Meyer, who announced Saturday night that he would step down after coaching the Gators against Cincinnati in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day, is now having second thoughts about retirement, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com on Sunday.
Under a plan being discussed, Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio would coach the Gators in the Sugar Bowl. Meyer, who cited health concerns as the reason for his retirement, would take a leave of absence and return to the team before the 2010 season.
However, a source close to the program told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that Meyer would take a leave of absence for the entirety of the 2010 season. Adazzio would take over as interim coach for the season.
If Meyer is truly facing debilitating health problems, it doesn't seem like stepping away from recruiting for a few months or giving up coaching duties for one season is going to help a whole lot. Everything we've read since the story first broke is that the stress and impact of being a 24/7 coach finally wore him down to the point where chest pain, headaches and not eating became a part of his daily life. What happens if he returns and the problems continue just as before? Or -- and this would be just as problematic for Florida -- what if the only way he can return is by dedicating himself only half-heartedly to the job? Meyer's a great coach, but is 75% of Meyer better than 100% of Bob Stoops (just as an example)?
On the other hand, this would represent a way, WAY less painful transition for Florida. Recruiting might take a slight hit with the uncertainty surrounding Meyer's future, but Steve Addazio would be able to maintain everything as-is until Meyer's return. The insanity of a coaching search would be eliminated, the coaching staff (minus Charlie Strong, obviously) would remain intact and Meyer would be comfortable knowing that he'd have a spot reserved if/when he's ready to return. It's not like he'd have a hard time finding a job if Florida went another direction, but he probably doesn't want to be hounded for the foreseeable future with questions about if, when and where he'll be back on the sidelines.
A press conference is scheduled for 4:30 Eastern time today, and I'll be watching. There hasn't been a more interesting one in a long time.