Urban Meyer Taking Leave of Absence, Could Return as Gators Head Coach


NEW ORLEANS — Less than 24 hours
after he resigned, Florida coach Urban Meyer is instead taking an
indefinite leave of absence that opens the door for his return to the

A person familiar with the decision
told The Associated Press on Sunday that Meyer has changed his mind.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school had made
no announcement.

Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio
will run the team during Meyer's absence, a second person close to the
situation told the AP.

Meyer is to speak at a news
conference in New Orleans on Sunday. On Saturday night, he shocked
college football when he said he was stepping down after five seasons
as Gators coach because of health concerns.

After the Southeastern Conference
championship game three weeks ago, he spent several hours in a
Gainesville, Fla., hospital because of chest pains.

The University of Florida student newspaper, The New York Times and ESPN.com first reported Meyer's change of plans.

The person familiar with Meyer's
decision said the coach was with his players at a short practice on
campus Sunday and realized he wasn't quite ready to call it quits.

"There's no guarantees here," the
person said. "He could still walk away. He's got some significant
concerns about his health and his tank and his family. But instead of
cutting the cord, he's going to take a step back and see how he feels."

The 45-year-old Meyer will coach No. 5 Florida against Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.

He is 56-10 with Florida, including
32-8 in the SEC and a school-record 22-game winning streak that was
snapped by the Crimson Tide in the conference title game on Dec. 5.

"I have given my heart and soul to
coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus
years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five
years to the Gator football program," Meyer said in a statement
Saturday. "I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments
have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family."

Last month, Sports Illustrated
chronicled Meyer's coaching career and reported that he suffered from
persistent headaches caused by a cyst that becomes inflamed by stress,
rage and excitement.

Meyer told the magazine that since the diagnosis in the early 2000s he has tried to stay composed during games.

A tireless recruiter and creative
motivator, Meyer came to Florida from Utah in fall 2004 amid
speculation he would end up at Notre Dame.

Meyer brought most of his staff with
him – some of whom worked with him at Bowling Green (2001-02) and Utah
(2003-04). Together, they restored the program to national prominence
two years later with the school's second national championship.

The Gators upset Ohio State 41-14 in Glendale, Ariz.; they won another one last January by beating Oklahoma 24-14 in Miami.

With just about his entire team
returning this fall, Meyer spent all season coaching under intense
pressure and sky-high expectations. He said he welcomed it all as the
defending national champions tried to become just the second team in
the last 14 years to repeat.

But the season was far from smooth.
Florida dealt with distraction after distraction, prompting Meyer to
call it "the year of stuff."

Meyer is married with three children
– the oldest recently started college at Georgia Tech – and has said
repeatedly he planned to leave coaching to spend more time with his

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