Monday, October 25, 2004

Ron Zook Is Out At Florida

So Florida apparently has done what most figured it would do:  fire head football coach Ron Zook. 


Zook was on a pretty short leash since the day he came on the scene in Gainsville.  Following local legends aren’t very easy…especially when that local legend still has a lot of coaching left to do.   He is 20-13 in his two-plus seasons with Florida.   He lost more games in the Swamp than Spurrier did in his 12 seasons. 


Losing to 1-5 Mississippi State, who has a home loss to I-AA Maine on their resume doesn’t help, either. 


The Gators three losses [Miss State, Tennessee and LSU] have occurred in the final minutes.  They are 5-6 under Zook in games decided by 7 or less. 


Now, why fire him now??  He will keep coaching the Gators for the rest of the season….and possibly their bowl game.  So, he’s a lame duck coach who the players may end up not even respect much after this week.  Of course, they could rally around him and go out with a bang.   It will be interesting to see which will occur…since they are playing in the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” against arch-rival Georgia on Saturday [which Florida has won 13 of the last 14 years].   Not to mention South Carolina and Florida State still left on the docket. 


But, his firing now is basically to end the speculation that would otherwise being a frenzy for the remaining season.  I mean, even during the summer, people were already speculating that Zook could be gone since Steve Spurrier walked away from his $5M a year job as head man of the Washington Redskins.   And just as North Carolina hoops fans quickly turned on Matt Doherty…you could see the Gator Nation turning of Zook.  That’s part of it.  To this day, there are Kentucky Wildcat hoops fans that still don’t like Tubby Smith because he isn’t Rick Pitino….even though both have won National titles with the school. 


While the Mississippi State loss might have been the last straw, it was his football team getting into a fight with a UF fraternity that might have sealed his fate.  After being asked to squash the beef at the fraternity, Zook starting yelling at the students and lost his temper.  Since that incident, his university “friends” have all but left. 


Sure, the timing of the firing may get people whispering about Steve Spurrier returning.  But, Spurrier would be left with fighting against his own legacy PLUS rebuilding someone else’s mess.  He may as well just go to Texas [if Mack Brown is in trouble] and helm a legitimate title contender from the get-go…..or go to North Carolina where he will be given everything to try to resurrect a program that is suddenly in one of the “in-conferences”. 


No, look at Utah’s Urban Meyer.  Florida’s president came from Utah…and is quite fond of what Meyer has been able to do in Salt Lake City in such a sort time.  Also, it is no secret Meyer is aspiring for the big time of NCAA pigskin.   You could even see a guy like Butch Davis [if the Browns can him] taking that job. 

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