New staff used dead period to get closer

After the new Florida football staff had been together for less than a week, veteran coach Randy Shannon saw something he had never seen before.

The coaching staff was spending a long night in the office going over the recruiting board and watch film on high school prospects. It’s how they’ve spent many nights since the staff got to Gainesville. With the dead period eliminating any opportunities for the staff to get on the road and recruit, they’ve spent time in the offices building a plan and handing out new offers to prospects.

One night last week, one of the assistant coaches got up from a meeting room and was going to find somewhere to eat dinner. One-by-one, Florida assistant coaches started to file out the door, wanting to go get dinner and spent time getting to know the rest of the assistants.

“It turned out to be like a chemical reaction,” Randy Shannon said. “It wasn’t nothing planned, just one guy wanted to go then the next guy wanted to. All of a sudden, we’re all sitting at a restaurant eating. That tells you how good this staff is going to be because of the chemistry of that happening. It snowballed. That was something really special that showed me last night.”

The coaching staff has been getting to know each other in different ways since coming to Florida. Most of the assistants moved to Gainesville while their families stayed behind and got things in order before joining their husbands. The assistant coaches are all staying at a hotel together, and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier joked that they’ve spent time getting to know each other in carpools from the hotel to the offices.

They’ve also needed to drive assistants to the airport for them to have opportunities to go visit their family before the dead period ends on Thursday.

“We’re all living in the same boat right now as far as, ‘who’s got a quarter to do laundry?’ and those type of things,” Nussmeier said with a grin.

It’s a big deal for a staff without many recent connections. McElwain has previously worked with all of the offensive coaches on staff, but the assistant coaches haven’t had many chances to work with each other. That’s why the last two weeks have been important in the bowels of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. They’ve been able to watch film of recruits and spend time talking, bettering a relationship that has to be close by the time the 2015 season gets started.

"I think it's important in any organization,” Nussmeier said. “There has to be unity, there has to be a focus, there has to be a process, common unified goals and there has to be leadership. In any organization, I think for you to have success, you have to have some key principles in place."

They’re already starting to learn tendencies of the other staff members in short time. When defensive line coach Terrell Williams walked into the room for his press conference, he was a little early. Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was still talking with his Mountain Dew not far away from him. Williams joked that it looked like he was filming a commercial for the drink, adding that it helps with Collins’ energy.

“I feel like we’ve got a really good defensive staff, and we spend so much time together that it’s important that you enjoy being around the guys that you are working with,” Williams said. “Because I’m just telling you, from a coach’s perspective, if you’re in a room in a room with guys that you don’t necessarily like, then it can be miserable. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had that happen yet.”

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