In the press he cited the need to be with his kids. He said he knew there was a problem when he was texting recruits during church. He said his doctor told him the stress would kill him before he turned 50. I was impressed that he was willing to place faith and family over a brilliant career.
Then he waffled.
I don't know if he woke up the next day and said, "Wow. $4 Million? Did I really just quit a $4 Million a year job?!!!" Or, perhaps, someone told him he could go back to work and be healthy if he just didn't try so hard to win games. Maybe, just maybe, he decided that health or no health, faith or no faith, family or no family, coaching football at the highest level possible is the only life he could imagine for himself.
Why is Coach Meyer going through this personal crisis? He has worked hard for years. What's new about his situation? Nick Saban at Alabama works, I suspect, just as hard. Why isn't he having chest pains? Does he just have a stronger constitution than Meyer?
If I could ask Coach just one question it would be this: "Did Tebow's faith get to you?" I've watched quotes from Meyer migrate from being focused on football and integrity (two themes he hit hard when he became coach) to faith, football and integrity. He indicated that it was Tebow's example that convinced him to go with his church (he is Roman Catholic) on a short term mission trip. I have read that he is a major donor to the building of a Catholic high school in Gainesville (along with basketball coach, Billy Donovan). And I've just gotten the sense, from following the program, that he has had an awakening.
And so, from the outside of the situation, I can only wonder if Tim Tebow hasn't ruined our ball coach by giving him a vision of something that's more important than football (a blasphemous thing to say about a football coach, no matter how many Christian platitudes he might regurgitate). I wonder if this crisis is new to him because faith has given him a glimpse of the need to bring his life into balance and shown him that can no longer turn a blind eye to faith and family in order to bolster his career while making fans like me happy.
I've been a fortunate fan during the past decade. My favorite NFL team, the Colts, were led by a man who took faith so seriously that he decided to quit coaching. My favorite college coach did the same thing ... almost.
Our culture of success demands a lot of our achievers, be they entertainers, athletes, politicos, or business owners. Not a minute is left fallow for fear that some young, energetic, focused upstart will begin to undermine their success. And so they will.
Ministry isn't immune from this either. Ministers who work super hard, ignoring Sabbaths, are usually driven by the fear that the cool church across town, or across the street, will steal away the low hanging fruit--those folks who fill pews, give money, and bring with them the popular belief that the Spirit is present in a place. And so they will.
That's why the idea of Sabbath is more anchored in faith in God than we usually realize. The faith of Sabbath is the faith that your energetic competitors, though they may win the day and the bigger prize, will not undermine your life. God upholds you, not the seventh day of the week. Our decision to rest (or not to rest) will be determined by whether or not we really believe it is God who is the true giver of the biggest prize.
If Coach Meyer called me, I would tell him that I want him to remain as coach of the Gators, but only if he can keep a Sabbath.