GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Urban Meyer resigned Saturday as Florida's football coach after five seasons and two national titles because of health concerns that came to light when he suffered chest pains following the SEC championship game earlier this month.
The 45-year-old Meyer will coach his final game at the Sugar Bowl against Cincinnati on New Year's Day.
He leaves No. 5 Florida with a 56-10 record that includes a 32-8 mark in league play and a school-record 22-game winning streak that was snapped by Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game 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. "I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family."
Meyer said he consulted with his family, doctors, school president Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley before deciding it was in his best interest to focus on his health and family.
Meyer will hold a news conference in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.
"Coach Meyer and I have talked this through and I realize how hard this was for him to reach this decision," Foley said. "But the bottom line is that Coach Meyer needed to make a choice that is in the best interest of his well being and his family. I certainly appreciate what he has meant to the University of Florida, our football program and the Gator Nation. I have never seen anyone
more committed to his players, his family and his program. Above all, I appreciate our friendship."
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."
It included preseason talk about perfection; flulike symptoms that ravaged the team; Tim Tebow's concussion; opposing fans hijacking cell phone numbers; facing former assistant Dan Mullen; linebacker Brandon Spikes' eye-gouging incident; Meyer's hefty fine for criticizing officials; defensive end Carlos Dunlap's drunk-driving arrest; a few controversial calls; some close games;
and what seemed to be a season-long offensive slump.
Indeed, the Gators went through just about everything in 2009. Still, the loss to Alabama was the most crushing blow - until this.
The Crimson Tide derailed Florida's perfect season and left Meyer in a Gainesville hospital. Team officials initially said he was treated and released for dehydration. But players and coaches later said Meyer had chest pains. Meyer refused to talk about his hospital stay, but acknowledged that he needed to take better care of himself.
"He puts a lot on himself and he cares a lot and he takes a lot of the burden on himself," Tebow said last week. "That's something we talk about a lot. You've got to take care of yourself. Although we're both very passionate, you can't always let it all feel like everything is on your chest.
"And I think he's doing a better job of doing that. But when you have guys kind of not doing the right thing and you get beat in a game like that, it can weigh on you a little bit. I think he felt a little bit of that. But I think he's doing a little bit better now, though."
Meyer has a wife and three children - the oldest recently started college at Georgia Tech - and has said repeatedly he would never stay in coaching long enough to be like Florida State's Bobby Bowden or Penn State's Joe Paterno.
Nonetheless, his tenure will be remembered.
"He leaves a lasting legacy on the field, in the classroom and in the Gainesville community," Machen said. "I am saddened that Urban is stepping down, but I have deep respect for his decision."
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