GAINESVILLE -- Steve McClain cut me off before I could ask Urban Meyer. It's the question everyone wanted answered: Will the Florida Gators' coach be back this fall?
Who is Steve McClain? He's the air-traffic controller during Urban Meyer's post-game interviews. On Saturday, he seemed more like a bodyguard. His message: If you're going to ask difficult questions, then this interview is over. The kid gloves being used for Meyer seem so bizarre to me, but bizarre and out of the ordinary is an everyday thing for this football program recently.
Will Meyer be back? No one can say for certain, not even the guy who likely be in charge if Meyer stepped down tomorrow. On Saturday, Steve Addazio was stuck answering the difficult question I wanted to ask Meyer. I felt kind of bad putting Addazio on the spot. But, hey, that's the gig.
QUESTION: Steve, can you say for a certainty that Urban is going to be back in the fall?
After a long pause, here's what Addazio said.
ADDAZIO: "I can't even respond to that question, you know what I mean."
MY REPLY: Well, you would be the guy to be the head coach.
ADDAZIO: "Here's what I would say to you. I'm hoping to make it -- I don't get hit by a car when I walk across the street right here. Seriously, I can't even comment on that. I'm just so fired up right now. He's great -- looks good, feels good. I think you just enjoy the heck out of what we're doing and thrilled to death. I can't wait to start the season. I see what you see: energy, passion. I see it all. I'm not worried about anything, OK."
Addazio will be filling in for Meyer this summer during the annual booster club tour. My suggestion to fans: Go meet Steve Addazio. This man is a top-notch motivator and a great guy. Here's how Addazio describes the attitude of the coaching staff right now:
"It's a foxhole mentality," he said. "When you get in that foxhole and you got a lot of good things around you, you feel good."
Never been in a foxhole and never want to be a foxhole, but if I was, I would want Addazio covering my six.
As for Meyer, I guess shielding him from the press is necessary, and I can accept that. His health is the most important thing here. Meyer said on Saturday that avoiding the press is part of the plan to reduce stress. I just don't get it. It doesn't have to be that way, but whatever.
Meyer met with reporters for about nine minutes on Saturday. He spoke with the press for about 20 minutes the entire spring. Covering Florida is a challenge these days. You've got choose your words carefully. You never know if that last interview is going to be the last time you get a chance to ask Meyer a question. Saturday was actually the first time I've had a chance to ask Meyer a question since National Signing Day. I was covering the Florida-BYU basketball game the first time Meyer spoke. I was covering the Final Four the second time.
I would much rather have asked about the spring game, but that didn't seem like the best use of my precious questions.
QUESTION 1: Urban, what's the reason or thought process behind scaling back the news conferences and booster club meetings?
MEYER: "I just did some research on my own, and [sports information director] Steve [McClain] and the administration, we did some research on what other places do and the focus is on recruiting, our players, our team and obviously raising my children and the coaches raising their children and doing it the right way," Meyer siad. "So, if that takes away from other stuff, that's got to happen."
QUESTION 2: And, what are some of the ways you've learned to manage stress here in the last few months?
MEYER: "Manage stress?"
MEYER: "By cutting back on media. [LAUGHTER] By seeing Ron Powell and Sharrif Floyd and some of these great players walking around here. That's how I manage stress."
QUESTION 3: And, are you going to be back ...