FOOTBALL: Comparing Zooker With Other UF Coaches

There is a huge inaccuracy out there about how Ron Zook's first 33 games at the University of Florida were the second best for any Gator coach in his first 33 games. That is so far from the truth you gotta wonder who did the research that started the story.

Here is the truth of the matter as it relates to Gator History:

Galen Hall 28 - 4 - 1 .864

Steve Spurrier 27 - 6 .818

G.E. Pyle 24 - 6 - 3 .772

Charles Bachman 24 - 7 - 2 .758

Ray Graves 20 - 12 - 1 .621

Ron Zook 20 - 13 .606

Two other coaches, William Kline (.690) and James Van fleet (.737) had higher winning percentages but never reached their 33rd game.

What's that line about lies, damn lies and statistics?

What Went Wrong For Ron Zook

One of the points many have made about the split in Gator Nation about Ron Zook is that he had too many detractors from day one. I completely agree. With Ron never having been a head coach before, many questioned his hiring on the spot. Simple human nature is that if you think the wrong guy got the job, you will seize on every opportunity to reinforce that mind set. I also think there are things he did which hurt his credibility as a head coach and undermined his support. Some of these things may seem petty, shoot they probably are, but they contributed to the level of support, which contributed to the end result.

"It's About The Jessies And Joes

When the Zooker made that statement in his opening press conference it made me cringe. Everybody has Jessies and Joes these days, some are better than others are. However, with the recruiting limits as they are and the unpredictability of how young people will develop and mature, it's much more about the X's and O's from my perspective. Combine that with his innumerable times saying, "I'm not Steve Spurrier" had the effect of making many question his whether he had the confidence that he could out-scheme and out-strategize equally or more talented teams.

Pulling Bleachers Off the Practice Field

This is something I acknowledge right up front is petty, but it DID matter to a lot of people. One thing you should never do, especially new in a situation is pick a fight with your friends. Fans who have bought tickets for years and attended spring practice regularly were suddenly forced to stand up. For what? People sat through spring practice for decades without any players protesting it was messing up their "work environment". Many of these fans are retirees for whom the edict was an extreme hardship.

Like I said, it's a tad petty, but he turned friends into enemies for nothing.

"We Will Have Gator Systems Regardless Of Coaches"

This is one that on the surface sounds good, but in reality I don't think it works. At initial glance, the concept that all Gator players year in and year out will use the same system, terminology and such makes a lot of sense. But I think locking into that is too stifling of the creativity and originality of the assistant coaches… particularly coordinators. Less than three years is not enough time to really evaluate it, but it sure seems increased freedom on offense this year is resulting in a lot more scoring and big plays.

Biggest Problems On Defense And Special Teams

To me, this is the biggest issue with the Ron Zook era at the University of Florida. Most head coaches have a background primarily on one side of the ball or the other. The success of the team in those areas is how the public and the administration will evaluate the head man as a football coach.

Ron Zook was an defensive coordinator in college and the pros.

In 33 games, his Gators allowed 30 or more points eleven times. That is almost twice as frequently as occurred during the "no defense" Spurrier era.

Ron also had excelled as a special teams coach. Yet in his three years as Head Coach at UF each kick was a new adventure. Saturday in Starkville, the Gators mishandled punts while Mississippi State returned one for a TD.

Zook Will Coach Again

There is no doubt in my mind that Ron Zook is capable of success as a head coach and will get another opportunity. I believe he will be a better coach from this experience, but would be more comfortable in a setting where expectations and media scrutiny are much lower. Look at schools in Conference USA (Tulane?) and the Mid-American Conference (Ohio? Miami-Ohio if Terry Hoeppner gets a better gig?) as ideal settings. He may take a year off, but if a good situation comes up, why not?

If Zooker does not want to wait for a head coaching opportunity, he would be in huge demand as a special teams' coach/recruiting coordinator.

Keep those emails coming!

Don't forget to email me your questions and comments, but please do not include attachments! My email address is: vettel@gatorcountry.com .

I look forward to you joining me on the radio, Sunday nights from 6:00-to-8:00 on Gainesville's WSKY-FM 97.3 (877/975-9825 toll free)

Have a great week.


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