When University of Florida head football Coach Urban Meyer announced he was retiring to save his health, an old rival understood.
“Certainly, if there are health issues involved it makes it nearly impossible to do it,” said former University of Tennessee Coach Phil Fulmer. “In this job, there’s always something else that needs to be done. There’s not a time of the year you can say, ‘OK, we’re going to slow down here.’ ”
And a day later, when Meyer backtracked and said he’d just take a leave of absence instead, a former colleague wasn’t surprised.
“It’s almost like a drug,” said Bob Davie, the former head coach at Notre Dame who worked alongside Meyer for five years there. “The highs are tremendously high and the lows are tremendously low. You get addicted to it.”
Meyer’s announcement cast a light on the high-pressure world of coaching, particularly at the nation’s major college programs — multi-million-dollar operations where, experts say, growing demands both on and off of the field can take a toll on the health of the men who run them.
“You’re essentially the CEO of a major corporation,” said Todd Bell, media director for the American Football Coaches Association. “You’re the spokesman, the chief fundraiser — there’s an awful lot of non-football work that goes into that type of position.”