Over the last decade or so there have been a few coaches go from success at the college level to taking their talents to the NFL (with Doug Marrone and Kliff Kingsbury immediately coming to mind), but no one recently comes with the same type of profile that Urban Meyer has in Jacksonville.
It really shouldn't come as much of a surprise to hear that Urban, who is in the NFL ranks for the first time ever in his coaching career that stretches back to 1986, would like to see NFL free agency more closely resemble college recruiting. Recruiting is something Urban and his staffs dominated at Florida and Ohio State, leading many to believe his staffs led some of the best recruiting efforts of all time, and his 2010 class at Florida remains one of the highest rated classes in college football history.
However, filling roster spots via NFL free agency is quite a different process.
Once upon a time, when a free agent was exploring his options, he'd fly to a city where he was considering playing, meet with the coaches and key front office members over a meal, and maybe even tour the team facility. They would repeat that process a few times, visiting with the teams that they're considering joining.
That is no longer the case, as teams have not been able to meet with free agents for quite some time now, which makes the job of general managers, head coaches, and front office personnel much more difficult than they need to be in a lot of cases.
When asked what he thought about the free agency process his first time around, Urban didn't mince words
"That was awful. I don't agree with it, but no one asked my opinion."
"I guess in the old days you could bring them in and meet them, then have dinner with them and find out their football intellect, find our their character and things like that. So we had to do a deep dive on every guy that we signed."
Urban goes on to share that responsibility in Jacksonville lies on the shoulders of Ryan Stamper and Marcus Pollard, who he leans on for personnel assessment unless coaches on the staff have worked with the players, or recruited them, previously.
"To answer your question, it was awful," Urban went on to share. "I don't believe it should be that way. I'm not sure how that rule came about, but, to me, that's not good business."
As a head coach in college football, investing in the kid (pre-NIL days) meant a scholarship, a roster spot that is capped, and the time and effort of the staff. The NFL is a different animal altogether, because now your investment is millions of dollars that need to fit in neatly into a salary cap and you're asking coaches to do that without being able to sit and meet with the players to get the full scope of him as a person.
NFL Free agency, when you compare it to what Urban is used to in the recruiting process with daily communication, official and unofficial visits, in-home visits, and extensive background checking, well...the two approaches couldn't possibly be more different.
But the NFL has free agency rules in place for a reason, even if a college coaching veteran turned newcomer to the league doesn't see that just yet.
See Urban's full comments in the clip, and stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.