Meyer, Florida face uncertain future

NEW ORLEANS -- As Florida's football program lurches into an uncertain future, the most striking sign of an emotional week was in the eyes of Shelley Meyer.

The coach's wife had tears in them after the Gators' 51-24 annihilation of Cincinnati in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Her husband, Urban, is taking a leave of absence. He announced that Sunday, one day after shocking the college football world by announcing he would resign after this game.

Meyer is not resigning, but as of Saturday, he's also not working. For now.

That seems to run counter to his family's wishes, at least given its comments last Saturday night when the resignation was announced. What exactly this leave of absence means and how long it lasts remains unknown -- but the strain involved in reaching this point was evident in Shelley Meyer.

"I'm scared," she said after the game. "I don't know -- I don't know what it's going to be like. Urban has always coached.

"I've been so OK that he needs this [coaching]. He needs this really bad."

What he needs now, Shelley said, is a break. A chance to remove himself from the withering work pace that put his health in jeopardy and landed him in the hospital the day after losing the SEC championship game in early December.

"We just need to step back right now," Shelley Meyer said. "There's no time to think. We need time to relax and think and step back."

Urban Meyer said after the game that he'll do "everything I can to keep this train going in the right direction," but that specifics of his new role "will be discussed in the next few days."

Quarterback Tim Tebow cracked that Meyer had "better be looking forward to getting beat at some golf."

A Florida administrator said Friday night that he believes Meyer will be the coach when the Gators open the 2010 season. But nobody can offer anything concrete yet.

"[In] my gut," Meyer said, "I feel like I'll be back."

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.