WHAT WE'RE HEARING: Balis to UF as S&C Coach

From our sources in Utah and confirmed through sources within the Florida athletic department, Gator Country.com has learned that University of Utah strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis will be joining Coach Urban Meyer's staff at Florida.<p><b>ALSO INSIDE: Find out which players received awards at the annual Football Awards Banquet!</b>

It is unclear if Balis will share football duties with Florida's director of strength and conditioning programs, Rob Glass, or if he will be solely in charge of all football strength and conditioning. Nor is it clear if Glass will remain as the director of strength and conditioning for all sports. Gator Country.com hopes to update and clarify this situation as quickly as possible.

Balis is a 32-year-old Chicago native who is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a masters from Aurora University. He is the 1995 Junior World Power Lifting Champion.

Prior to joining Meyer's staff at Utah in 2004, Balis served two years as the strength and conditioning coach at the University of Houston.

In other news about how the Florida staff will shape up, Gator Country.com sources at Salt Lake City's ESPN radio station, KFAN, indicated that Utah defensive backs coach Chuck Heater, a veteran of staffs at Notre Dame, Wisconsion, Colorado and Ohio State, is certain to join the Florida staff. Heater serves as the recruiting coordinator at Utah. He was considered one of college football's greatest recruiters when he was on Bill McCartney's staff at Colorado.

The Deseret News in Salt Lake City is reporting that both Utah and Brigham Young are offering the head coaching job to Utah defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham. As late as Monday it was thought that Utah would pass Whittingham over in favor of Bowling Green Coach Greg Brandon. However, apparently Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill has decided to go with Whittingham, who could accept the Utah position as early as Tuesday morning.

Brigham Young, which made a last ditch effort to put a better financial package together to lure Southern Cal offensive coordinator Norm Chow, apparently has been spurned once again, therefore will offer the job to Whittingham, who is a BYU grad who grew up in Provo, son of a BYU assistant coach to LaVell Edwards. BYU, which paid deposed coach Gary Crowton only $250,000, raised its package to somewhere around $450,000 to land Chow, but was unsuccessful. Chow makes $600,000 per year at Southern Cal.

Utah is reportedly offering Whittingham $500,000 per year. If he is named head coach, he could select Utah linebackers coach Kurt Barber as his defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Mullen as his offensive coordinator. Both Barber and Mullen were expected to join the Florida staff of Meyer.

If Whittingham is selected at Utah, it could also open the door for Meyer to make a bid to retain Larry Fedora (offensive coordinator). Other Florida coaches who may receive an offer to stay on the staff are Joe Wickline (offensive line), Mike Locksley (running backs) and Charlie Strong (defensive coordinator).

Strong was offered the defensive coordinator's job at Arkansas, but turned it down. Arkansas subsequently chose NC State's Reggie Herring to fill that slot. Strong and Locksley both has been reportedly offered jobs on Coach Steve Spurrier's staff at South Carolina. Spurrier may announce the hiring of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Bo Pelini to his staff as early as Tuesday. AWARDS BANQUET AT UF:

Junior running back Ciatrick Fason was the big winner Friday night at the University of Florida's annual football banquet. Fason, the leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference, was the winner of the Outstanding Running Back and the prestigious Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award. He was also voted along with quarterback Chris Leak as co-winners of the Ray Graves Most Valuable Player Award.

Voted as Most Outstanding were Mike Degory (Offensive Line), Dee Webb (Defensive Backs), Jeremy Mincey (Defensive Line), OJ Small (Wide Receiver), Channing Crowder (Linebacker), Brandon Siler (Freshman) and Matt Pitrowicz, Matt Leach and Eric Wilbur (Special Teams).

Jeff Whitaker won the John Eibner Scout Team Award. Anthony Guerrero won the Most Improved Player. Casey Griffith won the True Gator Award.

The James Kynes Outstanding Lineman Award went to Jonathon Colon and the Gene Ellenson Most Inspirational Player went to Kenny Parker. The Rex Farrior Team Oriented Award went to Travis Harris.

Permanent team captains were Degory and Small on offense and Crowder and Mincey on defense.


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