Jaguars coach Urban Meyer’s social media scandal hurts team focus

By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer

Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

After the Jacksonville Jaguars week 4 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Head Coach Urban Meyer stayed in Ohio after the rest of the team left. A video surfaced of a woman dancing on him who was not his wife. I believe there are more problems than just the video. In this week’s column, I’ll discuss why I disagree with how Meyer handled it.

Meyer did not fly back with the team, and instead stayed in Ohio, where he was head coach of the Ohio State Football team for seven years. Meyer claimed he went to dinner with his grandkids and a group asked him to take pictures. They tried to get him on the dance floor, which Meyer says set up the incident. 

There are obviously several problems with what happened, but instead of focusing on the incident itself, I’d rather focus on him missing the flight. I understand him wanting to see his family since NFL players and coaches don’t get much family during the season. Since he had family close by, I understand why he would want to see them. 

My issue isn’t him seeing his family, it’s the way he handled it. Jacksonville has four players on their roster from The Ohio State University. Three of them are also originally from Ohio, and guard Andrew Norwell is from Cincinnati. 

I assume they would’ve also liked to spend time with their families. It’s unclear whether these players were also given the opportunity to miss the flight as well. If they weren’t, that seems very unfair to me. 

Why should the head coach be allowed to see his family if the players can’t? I also find it hard to believe if they were given the chance they would have declined the offer. I feel this was a bit of a selfish move by Meyer. 

The Jaguars have a bye week in week seven. I understand he was in the area, but you’re in Cincinnati on a business trip. It’s not a vacation, and it’s not the offseason either. Why couldn’t he have waited a few weeks and come back during the bye week? 

I believe as an NFL head coach your focus has to be on football. There’s a time and place for family time and I don’t believe this was the right time. Jacksonville is 0-5. If you were 3-2 or 4-1 I believe you’ve earned the right to relax a bit. That’s not the case if you haven’t won a game. 

His response to the situation also concerns me. According to NFL reporter Michael Silver, he did not apologize for this in front of the team. He only apologized individually to each position group. He also canceled a team meeting because of this situation.

This makes me question how much of a leader he really is. I believe leadership is one of the most important character traits a head coach needs. If he isn’t willing to address this in front of the entire team, that doesn’t seem like much of a leader to me. 

He went as far as to describe the woman in the video as “just dancing,” and according to Silver, as soon as he left the entire team started laughing. That can’t possibly be the best excuse you could come up with.

If I were Meyer I would’ve taken full responsibility for what happened, apologized, and ensured I wouldn’t put myself in a situation like this again. I would’ve held myself accountable instead of trying to divert the blame onto the woman or anyone else involved.

At the end of the day, this is a distraction to the team. It’s also one that could’ve been avoided if he went back to Jacksonville with the team. A distraction is the worst possible thing the Jaguars need right now. 

They are winless through four games and are about to play the Tennessee Titans. Through four games the Titans are 2-2 and running back Derrick Henry leads the NFL with 510 rushing yards.

According to NFL reporter Michael Lombardi, Meyer’s situation has led to several closed-door meetings within the organization that have nothing to do with preparing for Tennessee. The time spent on discussing this situation is time that could be spent on game planning. 

This has become a worst-case scenario. Instead of focusing on how to stop Henry, the team’s focus is on Meyer’s situation. Even if it’s not the main focus, it’s in the back of players’ heads. It’s taking their attention away from what should matter the most in beating the Titans.

I understand this is Meyer’s first chance as an NFL head coach. I also understand there’s a big difference between the talent he had at Ohio State compared to what he has in Jacksonville. With that being said, if I’m the Jaguars I would not be afraid to move on from Meyer soon. 

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