Urban Hire: Meyer returns to sidelines with NFL's Jaguars

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FILE - Ohio State NCAA college football head coach Urban Meyer answers questions during a news conference announcing his retirement in Columbus, Ohio, in this Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, file photo. A person familiar with the search says Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars are working toward finalizing a deal to make him the team's next head coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, because a formal agreement was not yet in place. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Urban Meyer has won everywhere he’s coached. Small colleges. Big-time programs. He’s been a difference maker at each stop during his storied career.

He’s ready to try something new: the NFL.

Meyer agreed to become head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, leaving the broadcast booth and returning to the sidelines after a two-year absence that followed another health scare.

The 56-year-old Meyer was team owner Shad Khan’s top target for weeks, maybe even months, and the deal was signed shortly after their third and final meeting in seven days. They met last Friday on Khan’s yacht in Miami, again Wednesday and once more at the facility Thursday.

Hiring the longtime college coach with three national championships signifies a new direction for a franchise that has lost 105 of 144 games since Khan took over in 2012.

“This is a great day for Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere,” Khan said in a statement. "Urban Meyer is who we want and need, a leader, winner and champion who demands excellence and produces results.

“While Urban already enjoys a legacy in the game of football that few will ever match, his passion for the opportunity in front of him here in Jacksonville is powerful and unmistakable.”

Meyer went 187-32 — a staggering winning percentage of 85.3 — in stops at Bowling Green (2001-02), Utah (2003-04), Florida (2005-10) and Ohio State (2012-18). He ranks seventh all time in collegiate winning percentage, trailing only Notre Dame legends Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy among coaches at major programs.