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It was an Urban legend

Matt Lozar | Friday, December 3, 2004

For the second time in three years, the Notre Dame football program won’t be getting its top choice to fill its vacant football head coach position.

ESPN.com and the Orlando Sentinel are reporting Urban Meyer has accepted the head coaching position at the University of Florida Friday.

According to The Orlando Sentinel, Florida President Bernie Machen said from his home Friday that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley offered Meyer the Florida head coach job Thursday morning during a trip to Utah.

At least two University officials, including Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White and University President-elect Father John Jenkins, flew to Utah Thursday afternoon and returned to South Bend at 1:53 a.m. EST Friday morning.

According to the Washington Post, a plane expected to be carrying Foley was headed to Salt Lake City following Notre Dame’s arrival in Utah.

According to flight data tracking information, the plane departed Gainesville, Fla. at approximately 9 p.m. EST Thursday evening. After a stop in Colorado Springs, Colo. the plane continued to Salt lake City and arrived at 3:27 a.m. EST Friday morning. The plane returned to Gainesville, arriving at approximately 8 a.m. EST.

Reports of Meyer’s apparent acceptance of Florida’s offer were reported early Friday afternoon.

After Tuesday’s firing of Tyrone Willingham, it appeared the University’s first choice was Meyer as numerous television and print outlets covered the trip of White and Jenkins to Salt Lake City.

In 2001, many reports said then Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was the first choice for Notre Dame, but a deal could not be finalized. Then-Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary was announced Dec. 9, seven days after Bob Davie was fired, as Notre Dame’s new head coach. On Dec. 14, O’Leary resigned after admitting he lied on his resume.

Florida fired its head coach, Ron Zook, Oct. 25. When Zook was fired, he had a record of 20-13 as the Gators head coach. Steve Spurrier, the Gators head coach before Zook, had 27 total losses in 12 seasons in Gainesville, Fla. Zook coached the Gators to a 3-1 record in the four Florida games following his firing.

As Utah’s president, Machen hired Meyer Dec. 12, 2002 to be the Utes’ head coach.

Meghanne Downes and Matt Bramanti contributed to this report.