The NFL is a whole different ballgame than college football and Urban Meyer found that out the hard way.
The former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach spoke about his short-lived stint in the NFL on Wednesday in an appearance on the “Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich” podcast, reflecting on what went wrong and how different things were at the NFL level.
“It was the worst experience I’ve had in my professional lifetime,” Meyer said. “What really got me, I almost don’t want to say people accept it, I mean, you lose a game and you just keep …. I would seriously have self-talk. I went through that whole depression thing, too, where I’d stare at the ceilings and [think], ‘Are we doing everything possible?’”
Losing was not something Meyer was used to at the college level. As a college head coach he held a 187-32 record and won three national titles with Florida and Ohio State.
But in Jacksonville, he lost 11 of 13 before he was ultimately fired.
“I really believed we had a roster that was good enough to win games. I just don’t think we did a great job. It eats away at your soul. I tried to train myself to say, ‘okay, it happens in the NFL.’ At one point, the Jaguars lost 20 in a row. Think about that….and we lost five in a row at one point and I remember I …just couldn’t function.”
Not only was the level of talent and parity an adjustment, but so was the preparation for game.
“It is different. Just the amount of time you get with your quarterback. Just the amount of time you get with your team. The roster management. How you practice,” Meyer said. “The amount of reps you get before you go play a game, to me, was shockingly low.
“For example, we would practice, you maybe get one or two reps at something, next thing you know you’re calling it in the game. In college, you never do that. In college, you’re gonna get at least a dozen opportunities to practice that before you ask. Player to go do it in the game. So, there are a lot of differences.”
Meyer also faced challenges in roster management — something that is constantly fluid in the NFL whereas in college you have your roster set before the season begins.
“Used to be in college, the reality is you spend 75 percent of your time recruiting,” he said. “In professional football, there is no recruiting. It’s all scheme and it’s all roster management. You’re getting guys rolling in your organization on a Tuesday and they’re gonna play for you on a Sunday. So there is some obvious differences to the two games.”