Nine other coaches made their mark, Part I

While sentiments about Coach Ron Zook have run the full gamut of emotions from outrage over the loss to Mississippi State to outpouring of love after the win over Florida State, it is often lost in the public debate about whether Zook should stay or leave that there are nine other coaches who make up Florida's staff. Like Coach Zook, these nine men have lost their jobs, but they all have great character and all of them love the University of Florida.

I would like to share a few things I know of them in my time spent working with them.

Red Anderson: Coach Red played here for the Gators back during the same time as Steve Spurrier. He is as die hard a Gator as you will ever find. If one would ever take the time to notice following a game, Red is always almost tearful when the band plays the alma mater. He brings his spirit and his vigor to the practice field as he coaches his players up.

During recruiting visits, Coach Red is the resident historian. On Saturday nights on Florida Field, he stands in the middle of a dark field with just a spotlight on him. He tells the history of "The Swamp" and of Florida football. He has no cue cards and never misses a bit of information. It rolls off of his tongue like smooth whiskey. His voice carries through the often-time cold January air as the recruits look on and soak it up. Coach Red is a true Gator who has made a lot of players better and proud to wear the orange and blue.

Dan Disch: I have known Coach Disch less than a year but in that short time, it is easy to see why recruits and players flock to him. He is very personable and knows how to relate to players and other staff alike.

I believe we have seen improvement from what began as a very inexperienced secondary when the season started. A lot of that credit should go to Coach Disch. I haven't had the pleasure of watching him coach them up very much, but he has the respect of his players.

In recruiting, he was doing well in his first stint. He got commitments from "Pig" Baker, Tony Wright, and another silent commitment. He peaked the interest of Jonathan Demps and a few more that may not have been on the radar for the Gators. The Gators were on the verge of signing maybe the best secondary class ever, and he was a big reason for that.

Dwayne Dixon: Coach Dixon has had his share of all-Americans come through his watch. Who will forget the likes of Reidel Anthony, Ike Hilliard, Chris Doering, Jacquez Green, Willie Jackson, Taylor Jacobs, Travis McGriff, Darrel Jackson, Travis Taylor, Ben Troupe, and many more Gator greats that he helped coach up?

Coach D is always a player's favorite. From his dance on Wednesday practice to the fact he plays "ball" on the hardwood with ex-players. Every Wednesday as practice begins, he starts changing, "Today is Wednesday, the best day of the week!" The players start chanting and singing a song. He then starts doing the Coach D dance to the approval of all of the players. He also has the physical skill to still run routes and catch the ball and he's often showing them hands on how it should be done.

One thing I am sure most recruits and players will never forget about Coach D is his dancing prowess. Master of the dance floor, Coach D is not afraid to shake his groove thing in front of anyone. When the recruits ride to the stadium for their tour of the Swamp and locker room, Coach D greets them with a dance. I really don't know what to call it other than a dance.

Larry Fedora: My friends will tell you that I think Coach Fedora is the best assistant not named Stoops that has worked on staff here in the last ten years. I believe there have been a lot of fine assistants, but I put him up there at the top. Coach Fedora has an uncanny knack of relating to the players and getting an instructional point across too.

Most can see what he brings to the table in offensive play calling. The young Gator offense is first in the conference. They are first in passing yards. They are first in third down percentage. The list goes on. He is very meticulous as a coach and it shows with success on the field.

He also is a great family man, the father of four great kids and a lovely wife. He will tell you that he doesn't get to spend enough time with them. Coach Fedora has probably taught me more about football in two and a half years than the rest of my life combined. He is easy to learn from.

He is also relentless. During last recruiting season, most Gator recruitniks remember the pleasant surprise on signing day was Mike McIntosh. That one was all Coach Fedora. When McIntosh committed early in the process, he would not let him go. He stayed on him even though he never visited. Finally, on Super Bowl night, after the last recruiting weekend, McIntosh paid a visit. Not having gone through any of the amenities of a regular weekend, McIntosh was hosted by all ten coaches during the game and the Janet Jackson show at halftime. This never would have happened if Fedora hadn't stayed with him. The rest is history and Clemson is still ticked off.

Mike Locksley: Coach Locksley helped change the way recruiting is done on the staff. The new recruiting database was installed and he was key in helping make the recruiting a much more efficient and effective machine. He was brought onto the staff directly following the star studded 2003 recruiting class.

Coach Locks has a recruiting bite of his own. Derrick Harvey was the biggest name recruit in the class last year and had his choice of any school in the country. Derrick McPhearson falls into the same category and was a Locksley recruit.

Of course Coach Locks is more than just a recruiting coach. He is a key reason Ciatrick Fason has finished in the 1,000 yard club. Coach Locksley is intense on the field and expects that same intensity out of his players. He gets that from the likes of Fason, Skyler Thornton and DeShawn Wynn.

Coach Locksley has become the "fumble" coach (for lack of a better term). When a player fumbles the ball during a game, he is forced to endure Coach Locks and the ground drill. The player has to come to a stand still in front of Locks as he throws the ball away from the player. He torments them the whole time, as is his specialty, and rarely throws the ball close. Other players are invited to kick the ball or whatever if it gets in their way, but the object is for the player o have to run and land on the ball to protect it, and then bring it back to him. It is a deterrent to fumbling the ball and he enjoys making them do it.

Part II and the rest of the coaches will come tomorrow.


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