Coach Strong to serve as interim coach for Peach

GAINESVILLE, FLA. –University of Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley has named Charlie Strong interim head football coach for the 2004 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl as the Gators will face the University of Miami (Fla.) at 7:30 p.m. in the Georgia Dome. Former Florida head coach Ron Zook was named the head coach at the University of Illinois on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2004 at 1 p.m. CT.

"We certainly appreciate all of the hard work and effort Coach Zook put into the Florida program," said Foley. "He was a class act until the very end and we wish him nothing but the best of luck in the future."

"I respect the University's decision to have someone else coach the bowl game," said Zook . "I do wish the Gator nation, including the players and the fans, the very best in this game and in the future. I know these players will play very well and very hard in this game. They always have."

Strong rejoined the Florida staff for the fourth time in his career in December of 2002 after accepting the defensive coordinator job. He has spent the past six seasons as a defensive coordinator (four at South Carolina and two at Florida) and has 22 years of experience as a collegiate coach under his belt. Strong's 2004 Gator defense has improved in eight statistical categories over the past two seasons: scoring defense, rushing yards per attempt, yards rushing per game, average yards per catch, average yards per completion, yards per play, yards per game and sacks per game.

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