Urban Meyer has reached the top of the sport at multiple stops, giving him a unique perspective on the landscape of college football. During an appearance on the All Things Covered podcast with Bryant McFadden and Patrick Peterson, Meyer was asked to speak from that perspective and rank the top five jobs in college football. He named, in order: Georgia, Ohio State, a tie between Florida and Florida State, LSU and USC.
What's interesting is that while he did circle back to call it a "top-five" job in status, McFadden noted that Meyer did not include Alabama among the six schools he had in his ranking.
Omitting Alabama from the initial top five may surprise many, but the fact that this is the opinion of Meyer should not surprise anyone who has followed his career and approach to success in college football. Meyer was a dogged recruiter during his runs at both Florida and Ohio State, and earlier in the podcast he was quick to stress the importance of talent acquisition in his analysis of a job.
"You know, I put something in front of prestige and tradition, and that's talent."
Meyer's focus on recruiting and the quality of talent near a school were evident right away when he quickly named Georgia as one of the best jobs in college football.
"Georgia, within three or four hours of that campus, you stumble over players," Meyer said, adding "here's the interesting thing about Georgia, I think think the high school coaching is as good as anywhere in the country."
Meyer went on discuss LSU being a top job because of its hold on talent from Louisiana, joking that he didn't even take recruiting trips to the state because he knew his out-of-state staff didn't stand a chance. He put Florida and Florida State in a tie because of the comparable recruiting footprint, and then noted USC for his fifth place selection, highlighting the talent in Southern California in terms of producing future pros.
"Draw a circle within 300 miles of that campus," Meyer said of USC, "and then go check the NFL Draft."
When finally pushed on why Alabama was not initially named, Meyer returned to his focus on the in-state talent.
"I think Alabama is a great job tradition-wise, history-wise," Meyer said. "I was there early on when Alabama didn't have Nick Saban, they did beat us one year pretty badly. Alabama high school football is fantastic, but I don't know if you have the same numbers as you have as a Georgia or an LSU."
Before the conversation moves on, Meyer did seem to acknowledge that Alabama is a "top-five" job, but he clearly sees things differently than those who would rank the Alabama job higher because of its tradition and prestige. Meyer went 2-2 against Saban's Alabama program, splitting back-to-back SEC Championship Game matchups in 2008 and 2009 before losing a regular-season game with the Gators in 2010. He would then go on to defeat the Crimson Tide with Ohio State in the 2015 College Football Playoff semifinals.