Friday, January 26, 2007

Urban Meyer Gets Verbal Commitments from Five Notre Dame Fans' Wives

Always known as a sharp tactician and fierce disciplinarian, BCS champion coach Urban Meyer has made huge waves this week on the recruiting trail, reloading his already-talented roster at the University of Florida with a dynamic group of new players that will ensure the long-term success of the program. Mere hours after converting Notre Dame recruit Justin Trattou to Florida, five young brides from across the country gathered in Gainesville today to hold a press conference announcing their intentions to join Urban Meyer for the upcoming season.

The five women, who range in age from 24 to 46 and are all acknowledged as elite targets, all withdrew previous marriage commitments to their Notre Dame fan husbands after being persuaded by in-home visits by Meyer himself.

"It's a devastating break, really, I'm just in shock right now," said one of the husbands, lifelong Notre Dame fan and alumnus Mitchell Fellington, a market analyst from Chicago. "I mean, it just started out with some innocent text messaging... you know, 'How's the weather in Chicago?', 'Hey, did u see that BCS chsp game, LOL?'. I never really thought much of it at the time."

Fellington wasn't the only husband who was overwhelmed by Meyer's unusually cunning recruiting prowess. Anthony Engleman, an IT consultant from suburban Dallas who holds an undergraduate and MBA degree from Notre Dame, was also taken aback by the swiftness with which Meyer worked.

"I really thought I had a solid verbal commitment from Alexandra," he mused, reflecting on his wife of three years. "We were just getting settled in our new house, and we had even began talking about starting a family, you know? That's why I wasn't concerned when I heard she was taking an official visit to Gainesville two weeks ago. What's the harm? She probably just wanted to get a free vacation and take in the sights and sounds in one of Florida's ten most dynamic cities."

But things got quite a bit more serious after that.

"I guess I really started to get a sick feeling in my stomach when was at work and read online that the University of Florida jet had just touched down at the small airfield about a five minute drive from my house. Deep down, I was trying to convince myself that Meyer was just visiting the local high school to scout some juniors. I guess that's what you call denial."

Alexandra Hughley-Engleman was very forthcoming in her press conference about what ultimately led her to make the shocking decommitment.

"It wasn't an easy decision to make. I knew that if I stayed with Anthony, I'd have a guaranteed spot at the top of the depth chart, and there's certainly going to be more competition with Urban, what with him already having a wife and with the four other highly-touted wives he's bringing in this year. But, personally, I have no fear of competition. I'm very confident in my abilities as a wife and think that the competition will only push me to get better, even if it means sitting out for a year and just learning from the other wives."

Some of the other wives had other reasons behind their change of heart.

"There's no doubt, weather played a big factor," remarked Kristen Welsh-Fellington, "I mean, when I took my official visit, my plane was delayed two hours because a huge snowstorm practically shut down O'Hare Airport. Within hours of landing in Gainesville, I was in cut-offs and flip-flops. I was just getting sick and tired of being pasty to the point of translucence during the winter. I think Florida gives me a great opportunity to develop a healthy bronze. I mean, just look at [current Urban Meyer wife] Shelley, and that's after less than two years in the Florida sun. The results really speak for themselves."

Molly Fitzpatrick, a former Notre Dame wife from Somerset, NJ, mentioned two big issues that triggered her defection to the Gators.

"Being close to family is a huge priority for me. I talked it over with my mother, who just moved into a retirement home in Ocala, and really that's what both of us want. The trip from New Jersey was just becoming too much."

Fitzpatrick also cited football-related reasons for the switch.

"I mean, [former husband] Doug's doing well with his job here in Somerset, but because of his obligations and the sheer distance to South Bend, we have to save up all our vacation time to go to one, maybe two Notre Dame games a year and sit in the nosebleed section. While that's tempting, that's not really where I see myself. I've always been a season-ticket, hanging-out-in-the-owner's-box kind of girl, and that's what I prefer. At the end of the day, that makes a big difference."

When contacted by phone, Urban Meyer was candid about the ethical ramifications of his unabashed poaching Notre Dame fans' wives.

"Hey, a verbal commitment before God in a place of worship isn't the last word. I always maintain the lines of communication after a marriage because a lot can change in a year. When you're trying to build the greatest stable of wives in the country, you can't spend time worrying about what has been said in the past, you just have to roll up your sleeves and get down to work."

When asked if this year's class of wives was complete or if he had his eye on any other targets, Meyer dismissed the question, citing NCAA regulations prohibiting him from mentioning any recruit by name before signing day. He did, however, end the conversation with a knowing chuckle, suggesting his work this year is far from done.

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