Nine other coaches made their mark, Part II

(PART II of II) 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.

BILL MILLER: Coach Miller joined the staff for the 2003 season. I've never sat in one of his meetings, but I know that he is excellent with X's and O's. Players always learn so much from him. He is another coach that loves his players and he is sincerely interested that they will have a future AFTER they finish playing football. He has not been blessed with a lot of depth at the linebacker position in his brief time here and has had to make some emergency changes at times. That alone tells you what he can do in a pinch.

He has a vast coaching background. He's worked for such high profile coaches as Jimmy Johnson, Butch Davis and Nick Saban. He loves to recruit and his area of responsibility are the talent rich muck area of the Everglades along with the Kansas and western junior colleges. He is mainly responsible for the signing of Jeremy Mincey, the Gators top defensive end performer this season. He also is responsible for keeping Reggie Nelson hanging with the Gators for as long as he has.

Coach Miller is another one of those coaches that has a million stories to tell although I don't have the time and space to print them all here. I've learned a lot from him. His ability to tell stories and relating to kids about the game of life opens so many doors for him. I think that's one of the big reasons big name recruits like Gerald Williams and Vlad Richard are adamant about Coach Miller staying at UF for them to consider maintaining their commitment with the Gators now that Coach Zook has been dismissed.

CHARLIE STRONG: Coach Strong probably hasn't gotten a fair shake in this difficult situation. Although he knew it coming in, he is not running his full defensive scheme. Coach Strong would run a 3-3 defense if he had his way. He has even gone as far as sharing what he would do with the Gators current personnel in that scheme. In a 3-3 alignment, Jeremy Mincey would be the lone defensive lineman that would move to a stand up mode at outside linebacker. Earl Everett would be the third safety and be more of a quasi linebacker/safety. What this would do, is allow the flexibility of going to a 4-3, to a 3-3, to a 3-4, without ever changing personnel.

Coach Strong is in his fourth stint at Florida He coached at UF under coaches Pell, Hall, Spurrier and Holtz, plus a few stops along the way in the south as well as Notre Dame under Lou Holtz and again under Holtz at South Carolina. He has taken a very inexperienced defense and made tremendous strides, particularly in the final three games. Their performance in the Florida State game is probably a very good indicator of things to come.

Many an off day, players would congregate in his office and shoot the breeze with Coach Strong. He always has his door open for them to come in and just talk if they wanted or needed to. At the same time they definitely have the respect of the defensive coordinator and I have never seen otherwise.

JOE WICKLINE: Coach Wick is a hard cookie to crack. When one first meets him, he comes in with a drill sergeant mentality and puts fear of God into you. He has the stare and the imposing size to make the common man worry about what he might do. His players feel the same about him when they first meet him. Then the shell breaks. He cracks one of those wry jokes about someone's girlfriend or something and everyone realizes it was all a ploy.

Coach Wick actually has the admiration of all his troops. I can honestly say that he inspires loyalty and his players play hard for him. His linemen would go through the wall for their drill sergeant. He also is a damn good teacher.

His blocking schemes are not difficult. They are quite simple actually. He drills technique and aggression, the latter being the most important. Just ask Mo Mitchell All kidding aside, he likes his guys to play mean. Not nasty or cheating, but he wants the defense to not want to go up against his guys.

Back to the drill sergeant: I can remember the first day of fall practice last year. One of the freshmen offensive linemen came out early and was ready to go all smiles. He looked back as he ran by and yelled "Hey Coach Wick" with a huge smile on his face. Coach Wick smiles and waves and looks back at me and says, "What, does he think I am still recruiting him? Watch this." He proceeded to go over and rip the kid to shreds, telling him he was out of shape, etc. It took half the practice for the kid to realize it was more or less an act. We were rolling.

ED ZAUNBRECHER: Coach Z had to endure a rough off-season. The well chronicled demotion from offensive coordinator to quarterback coach is not an indicator of the man's talent as a coach. Coach Z would have benefited much the same as Larry Fedora from having his offensive personnel a year more experienced. He has shown the fortitude to stick this awkward situation out and coach the SEC's best quarterback in only Chris Leak's sophomore year.

I worked a long time with Coach Z my first two years. He is a patient man when others are not. In that respect I am much like him. That patience isn't complacency but something he has definitely honed from a long, successful professional career. The patience shows with the production of several all star NFL quarterbacks that highlight his resume. I truly loved working for Coach Z and feel he can work anywhere and probably with anyone.

Coach Z will be a better man and coach for his accomplishments here at UF and UF is a better place for those accomplishments.

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