JACKSONVILLE – Jaguars Owner Shad Khan made it clear quickly Friday:
Urban Meyer wasn't the only choice to coach the Jaguars, and he wasn't the only good choice. But Khan said he absolutely was the best choice.
"He's the man we want and need; he's ready," Khan said.
Meyer, one of the most successful head coaches in college football history and a three-time national champion at Florida and Ohio State, on Thursday became the sixth head coach in the Jaguars' 27-year history. He and Khan spoke to the media via videoconference Friday.
"I felt like this was not only the right time for me to return to coaching, but the right place in Jacksonville as well," Meyer said. "Duval is a very special place to me."
The Jaguars finished the 2020 season 1-15, and enter the offseason holding the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. It's the first time in franchise history they have held the first pick.
Meyer called the selection a "huge" factor in his decision and said there were multiple reasons he believed this was the right time and place to return.
"I'm not going to jump into a situation where I don't believe we can win; I won't do that," he said, adding, "We have to be in position to go win a game and I believe this is the place."
He also made clear he took the position because he believes in Khan. Meyer since leaving Ohio State University following the 2018 season has said he would only return to coaching if the situation were perfect.
He was asked Friday what made the Jaguars perfect.
"I think you said it first: Shad," he said.
The pair met at last year's Super Bowl, and Meyer said they spoke extensively at the time. He also said they spoke extensively during the interview process.
Meyer, who worked as a college football analyst for FOX Sports the past two seasons, said he spent much of the last six months studying the NFL. He spoke to multiple former players extensively about the difference between college and the NFL – and said those were topics of the conversations he had with Khan.
"I was just intrigued, you know, why does this organization win, why does this organization fail to win," said Meyer, who went 187-32 during a 17-year career at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. "The research was very strong. I was not surprised at the results. Players will tell you. The players know. Players are the ones who play the game. I really value the guys that I have in the NFL.
"I spent hours upon hours, I did work on this and I spoke to Shad about that. That was our conversation, we really had a nice conversation at the Super Bowl a year ago, I believe it was in Miami. And then we just recently had a very in-depth conversation, for many, many hours."
Khan, who attended Illinois and remains heavily involved with the Illini program, said he had long admired Meyer when Ohio State played Illinois – and that he immediately reached out to Meyer after announcing last Monday that former Head Coach Doug Marrone would no longer be in the position.
"I was just absolutely blown away at how he can help us and really reinvigorate the Jacksonville Jaguars," Khan said. "I'm obviously delighted he's here."
Khan on Friday called the offseason an inflection point for the organization. For the first time since 2013, the Jaguars will have a new head coach and new general manager, with Khan saying he hopes to announce a general manager sometime in the next week. Because of the first overall selection, the Jaguars also have a chance to select a quarterback in a draft that Meyer said he believes includes multiple elite quarterbacks – including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson.
"A lot of things have happened which really put us in a position really to win and the choice of the head coach was probably the most important thing," Khan said. "I'm really gratified, and I'm delighted obviously Urban's on board."
Khan on Friday also addressed the issue of organization structure, saying that his idea is that the organization be "coach-centric," an idea he said he has been working toward for the last 15 months – since parting ways with former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin near the end of the 2019 season.
Khan said Meyer and the new general manager will report to Khan but described his vision as one in which "the head coach really has to lead the kind of players he wants, the kind of team we need to be, and the general manager, myself we have to support that vision.
"Somehow, someway that had been lost and the idea here is really more about transparency, collaboration, teamwork and accountability," Khan said. "I shared this with Urban, and he's on board, both of them will be reporting to me but everybody in the organization, we're going to be carrying out obviously Urban's vision of the team and the kind of players we want."
Meyer said his vision for the team is of one that plays fast, and that his vision for the organization is that when people in Jacksonville see the Jaguars emblem, "There's a sense of pride and 'let's go, man. Let's go.' I see a fast team; I see people that care deeply about that organization.
"The two things I always talk about that inspire, are part of inspiration, are love and ownership," he said. "I want you to own it. If you don't want to do that, you really can't be here. Own that emblem."