The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to replace head coach Doug Marrone and are making a run at least one possible big-name replacement.
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the team has shown interest in former Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who has been lining up a staff and telling people he’s close to in the football community that he expects to land in Jacksonville.
Meyer has weighed big-time job opportunities in the past, with the University of Texas being the most recent.
Over the past two years, NFL head coaching jobs are said to have intrigued him.
However, Meyer has not firmly committed to coaching at all next year.
Currently, he is a Fox Sports college football analyst and to grab any job would take him away from his family, including his grandchildren.
And then there are those massive stress related headaches Meyer has suffered from for years.
Former Ohio State great Cris Carter last year shared alarming details about Meyer’s health and how it affected his well-being and ability to coach.
“Urban’s a very, very close friend of mine. His biggest problem is he wants to coach, but physically he can’t coach,” Carter said. “I think it’s been well-documented, as far as the cyst on his brain. When he gets agitated, upset … when he gets in coaching mode, it becomes very to almost impossible for him to coach because the cyst begins to leak fluid, which leads to — not a migraine headache, but a splitting headache. When we saw him double over on the sideline, that was not because of anything else but the cyst and it rupturing.”
Meyer suffers from an arachnoid cyst, which can reveal itself especially during stressful situations.
“I started dealing with some issues last year,” Meyer said. “We had conversations back then. It’s not your elbow or your foot.”
Meyer was diagnosed with the cyst in his brain back in 1998 while an assistant coach at Notre Dame.
So what, exactly, is an arachnoid cyst?
“It’s a benign cyst on the membrane tissue that covers the brain,” says Dr. Robert Brodner, a board-certified neurosurgeon at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach. “They occur congenitally in about 5 to 6 percent of the population — with the vast majority being asymptomatic.”
In other words, most people who have one are never even aware of it.
However, sometimes people do suffer symptoms (as was described in Sports Illustrated of Meyer experiencing two episodes of blinding head pain while on the sidelines during games in 1998 and 2003).
When that happens, it’s because, says Brodner, “Over time, the cyst can slowly, progressively enlarge as it imbibes spinal fluid. The enlargement can then exert pressure on the part of the brain in closest proximity to the cyst.”
The associated symptoms depend on which part of the brain is being pressured.
But, Brodner said, the most common ones are “headaches, nausea, vomiting and gait disturbance.”
From the 2009 book, Urban’s Way:
“Since his days when he blacked out and nearly fell while on the sidelines as an assistant at Notre Dame, Meyer had tried to learn how to better control his emotions. It turned out to be an arachnoid cyst on his brain, benign, but it also caused severe migraines when aggravated by emotional stress. The doctors told Meyer to “cool it with the screaming and yelling”, which he did until he became a head coach at Utah. During a game against Oregon, in a tense moment or the fourth quarter, he almost passed out. Doctors helped him pinpoint those emotional outbursts – usually, in the fourth quarter – and he began to alter his behavior pattern.”
Meyer had brain surgery in the spring of 2014 after suffering consistent headaches for nearly a month.
The complex surgery removed a subdural fluid collection caused by the cyst to relieve increased intracranial pressure, according to Dr. Thomas.
After that surgery, Meyer had been able to manage the pain. It flared up at times in 2015 and 2016.
The problem returned in full force in his final season at Ohio State and it led to his decision to quit his dream job.
While broadcast duties can be intense, it will be nowhere near the pressure of being a head college football coach, and health professionals believe Meyer’s cyst can remain under control if he gets rest and takes care of himself.
“By the time someone takes on a stressful job, the brain has already adapted to the presence of an arachnoid cyst,” said Dr. Nicholas Marko of UC Health. “Stress by itself may not affect arachnoid cysts, but other issues around stress – poor sleep or diet, for example – can complicate life with it.”
If Meyer is not the eventual choice, or decides to stay retired, Jacksonville is expected to look hard at the offensive side of the ball.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day, whose team is currently set to face Alabama in the NCAA National Title game, is also set to receive interest from the Jaguars according to Rapoport.