Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has been raked over the coals about a couple of his recent hires as head coach of the football program at Florida. But, there is no denying that Foley is one of the best athletic directors in the business. The overall program at Florida is one of the best, if not the best in America.
Foley has found success at hiring coaches at every venue, even football, as the athletic director, and he has been able to keep those coaches on campus winning more championships in the SEC than any other school, and it isn’t even close.
There is a little bit of a caveat with Foley and the hiring of Urban Meyer back in 2004. Much if not all of the credit there has gone to Bernie Machen, the outgoing President of the University of Florida, who also was the President at Utah when Meyer was there. The success under Meyer cannot be denied, and while it was certainly Machen’s relationship with Meyer, Foley had to do a lot of work to get him on campus after Notre Dame came calling. We should not discount all of the hard work Foley put into that.
Then we have the other two hires at the most prestigious job on campus.
Foley’s first hire as the head football coach at Florida was Ron Zook in 2004. Most of us remember the story that Zook wasn’t his first choice. Foley flew around the country on his plane that was followed by folks on the Internet. He flew to former defensive coordinator Remember then, this is when Steve Spurrier left the program in a lurch by resigning days after the Orange Bowl. There was a rush by Foley to get things done and he had to act quickly.
Zook was the third person he flew too on that trip and was the guy he landed for the job. That didn’t work out, but Foley has his reasons for hiring a coach and recruiting is of top priority, of which Zook was an excellent recruiter. He didn’t have head coaching experience and that proved to be a downfall, but he was personable and a really good recruiter and was a bright defensive mind that was coaching for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.
After Meyer of course came Muschamp. He went to the well again with a guy that hasn’t been a head coach and that was likely a mistake. However, Muschamp was the ‘Coach in Waiting’ at Texas and was slowly assuming those roles in Austin. It was supposed to be a matter of a year or two before he would take over. He should have been really close to ready. Muschamp was young, energetic, he was clean off-the-field, and a guy that had a good reputation for recruiting.
My point here is that Foley has had all the right intentions when hiring his coaches. He wants a young guy, a guy that can really recruit well, and a guy that does things the right way on and off the field. He has made two mistakes along those lines, but they were just mistakes. His approach has been right, the delivery just off.
But, his record as an overall athletic director points to him doing the right thing more times than not. So, it is time to sit back and let the man work and find the best coach for the University of Florida. I have no doubt he has learned from his mistakes and the people have shown they want the best for the University of Florida and not have to train a guy on the job like two previous hires have done.
Look for Foley to step out of one area on this hire. He won’t be getting a young guy that hasn’t proven things already. He will target the best out there for what he perceives is the best job in America. It is time for him to go to work.