GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Coach Urban Meyer is stepping down after the worst season of his career, giving up one of the premier jobs in college football for the second time.
Meyer called Athletic Director Jeremy Foley on Saturday to tell him he was contemplating retirement. They met Tuesday to finalize his intentions.
"He's put his heart and soul into college football," Foley told The Associated Press. "He's not sick. This is a totally different situation than a year ago. He just wants to take a step back and spend time with his family. He's totally at peace with his decision."
Nonetheless, Meyer's announcement caught college football by surprise.
Meyer called assistant coaches, many of whom were on the road recruiting, earlier this week to relay the news. Quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler told the AP he was "stunned" and that no one saw this coming.
"We'll be fine," said Loeffler, adding that Meyer was planning to meet with his staff Wednesday night. "It happens in this profession. We're just happy for him."
The 46-year-old Meyer led Florida to two national titles but began to show the strain of his high-profile job when he briefly resigned last December, citing health concerns, but returned the next day.
He had been hospitalized with chest pains after the Gators lost to Alabama in last season's Southeastern Conference championship game.
This time he did not mention his health being an issue.
"At this time in my life, however, I fully grasp the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field. The decision to step down was a difficult one," he said in a statement released by the school Wednesday. "After spending more than two decades motivating and celebrating the young men I've been so proud to coach, I relish the opportunity to cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports."
Florida finished 7-5, the worst record of Meyer's 10-year head coaching career. time the Gators had lost five regular-season games since 1988.