JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s no longer a myth, or an urban legend.
Urban Meyer, the Jaguars’ new coach, is bringing a new era to the Jaguars. He and Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan spoke publicly Friday for the first time since Thursday’s announcement.
Both are optimistic they can turn the team around from worst to first, and many fans are excited -- as are Jacksonville businesses.
Matthew Smith, the co-owner of Sports Mania in Jacksonville Beach, says business relies on the Jags’ success.
“It’s been a tough year,” Smith said.
He’s seen a dip in sales due to the pandemic, and due to a few dismal seasons.
But he’s already noticed excitement around the team’s new head coach and he started selling Urban Meyer T-shirts overnight.
“We’re excited to have Urban Meyer come and give our city and our small family business a resurgence,” Smith said.
String Sports Brewery in Springfield revolves around sports, obviously. Just miles away from TIAA Bank Field, manager Scott Adeeb says the Jaguars mean big business for home and away games.
“Even this last year with a 1-and-15 season, we still get a good Jaguars crowd out here,” Adeeb said.
He hopes the new hire -- along with the likely Trevor Lawrence draft for quarterback -- will turn up the heat.
“If you were to tell me two months ago we were gonna trade out Doug Marrone and Mike Glennon for Urban Meyer and possibly Trevor Lawrence -- I’m fired up,” Adeeb said.
Some fans have concerns about Meyer’s longevity after he left winning teams at the University of Florida and Ohio State abruptly, citing health reasons. Meyer addressed that in his opening news conference.
“Well if you’re asking me if I’m going to enjoy losing, I think we all know the answer to that. I’m older, it’s something I’m going to be very conscientious of, something I’m going to watch very closely,” Meyer said. “I will be the head coach but I’m going to hire great coaches that are going to be expected to do their job, I’m not going to be running around like a nut on the practice field. Those days are gone.”
Khan says everyone is invested.
“I think actions speak louder than words,” Khan said. “I’ve been here nine years. We’ve not won, but it’s not because of lack of effort. Where we are today it’s positioning us to win in the future.”
Fans that spoke with News4Jax responded positively.
“It shows progress and change in direction,” said Mike Gaskell, a fan. “Hopefully change is good. It does show signs of trying something for the future.”
“It’s a big name. I think It’s good for the community. He’s got a good record. We’ll see how he does in the pros,” said Jaguars fan Dwight Schober.
Khan formally introduced the former Florida and Ohio State football coach Friday morning, saying he has confidence Meyer will turn the team around.
“He’s the man we want and need in Jacksonville, and as you’ll see shortly, he wants the challenge,” Khan said.
Despite the worst season in franchise history, the Jaguars ticket office has experienced “8x the normal number of season ticket deposits.”
Half came in the past 24 hours.
The team should be asking existing season ticket holders to renew their seats in March.
Meyer fielded questions and concerns about his health, which caused him to leave two coaching jobs. He was also asked about he making the transition to from college to the NFL. He said fans will like the product they see on the field.
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“The city of Jacksonville has done a great job when they see that Jaguar emblem. There’s a sense of pride,” Meyer said.
Meyer says the next couple weeks will be huge for the franchise as he and Shad Khan have to hire their coaching staff and a general manager.