Urban Meyer Leaned on the History of the Dallas Cowboys When Making His Gutsy NFL Coaching Decision

Last year, rumors were swirling that Urban Meyer and the Dallas Cowboys potentially had some interest in joining forces. That, of course, didn’t happen as the Cowboys now have Mike McCarthy, and Meyer recently became the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, the Cowboys still played a small role in him making the jump to the NFL. He ultimately discussed his decision with former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, who had success in the NFL and in college.

Urban Meyer is the Jacksonville Jaguars’ new head coach

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Urban Meyer has been one of the most successful college coaches in the history of the sport. He won two national championships with the Florida Gators and then one with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Now, after not coaching at all the past two seasons, Meyer has recently taken over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags, though, went 1-15 in 2020 and have only been to the playoffs once since 2008.

“I’m ready to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars,” Meyer said in part of a statement, according to ESPN. “Jacksonville has an enthusiastic fan base, and the fans deserve a winning team. With upcoming opportunities in the NFL Draft, and strong support from ownership, the Jaguars are well-positioned to become competitive.”

It’s unclear how much success Meyer will be able to have in the NFL. Only a few coaches have been able to succeed at both levels. One of those coaches, though, is Jimmy Johnson.

Jimmy Johnson had success in college football and the NFL

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Jimmy Johnson is one of the few coaches to succeed in college and the NFL. 

After spending time at Oklahoma State, Johnson became the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes in 1984. He ultimately took Miami to the Fiesta Bowl in his first season there, before leading them to a 10-2 record and the Sugar Bowl in his second season. Then, after going 11-1 in 1986, Miami was the best team in the country in 1987. The Hurricanes went 12-0 that year and won the national championship.

Then, after Johnson and the Hurricanes went 11-1 in 1988, he decided to make the move to the NFL in 1989, becoming the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach.

Johnson and the Cowboys ultimately missed the playoffs in his first two seasons there, but Dallas then reached the postseason in three consecutive seasons with him from 1991 through 1993. They didn’t just reach the playoffs, though, the Cowboys thrived. They ultimately won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993.

The 1993 season, though, was Johnson’s final season in Dallas. He then coached the Miami Dolphins from 1996 through 1999, and Miami didn’t have one losing season with him. The Dolphins also made the playoffs in three of those four seasons.

Urban Meyer looked to Jimmy Johnson and the Dallas Cowboys

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Meyer would really prove how great of a coach he is by just having half the success that Johnson had in the NFL. Meyer actually leaned on Johnson when making his decision, too.

“I had a few phone calls with [Johnson] recently,” Meyer said, according to Jacksonville.com. “He will be a resource for me. He will be a guy I speak to quite frequently. He told me you have to be much different than you are in college than you have to be in professional football, but he made it clear that players want to win.”

Johnson then revealed to ProFootballTalk that he received a text message from Meyer before the news of his hiring became public.

“Losing’s gonna be difficult for Urban. He knows that,” Johnson said, according to ProFootballTalk. “But he’s got a better team with more draft picks than I had when I got to Dallas. … I think he can turn it around fast. But he goes into it with his eyes open.”

He continued: “He knows it’s different than college. But I think it’s a great hire for Jacksonville, and a great move for Urban. The opportunity is there, and just like anybody who has had the success in college that he’s had, it’s always in the back of your mind, ‘Can I meet that challenge in the NFL?’ That’s what’s driving him now. For a competitor like him, with the resources Jacksonville has, it’s a fantastic opportunity.”

No, Urban Meyer didn’t make the jump to the NFL when the Dallas Cowboys had an opening at head coach last year. He still looked to the Cowboys, though, when making his decision and will probably try to replicate what Johnson and the Cowboys did together way back when.

Stats courtesy of Sports Reference and Pro Football Reference