BILL FROM JACKSONVILLE WRITES: I'm still in shock that Florida got Urban Meyer. I can't believe he turned down Notre Dame. I thought for sure he would be in South Bend the moment I saw ND fire Ty Willingham. What do you think made him choose the Gators over Notre Dame?
You aren't the only one in shock Bill, although the Domers would probably spin it that they now have the guy they wanted all along in Charlie Weis. I think it showed a lot of loyalty to Florida that Meyer held to his convictions to become the coach at Florida when Notre Dame came calling. I think he felt an obligation to hear them out, but as he has said, he had already decided that he was a Gator when he interviewed with the Notre Dame people. I think what made him choose the Gators is the long term potential of the program at Florida. I think it's a situation that is far more conducive toward long term success at Florida than it is at Notre Dame. Remember, Bill, there aren't too many kids that are out there who remember the last time Notre Dame was any good. Most kids are aware of Florida's recent successes.
CHRIS FROM OCALA WRITES: Tell me something about Dan Mullen, the quarterback coach who's coming here from Utah. Is he also going to be the offensive coordinator? Are you concerned that he's not been a play-caller before?
Let's start with the fact that the two quarterbacks he has coached while working for Urban Meyer (Josh Harris and Alex Smith) have played lights out. Harris went from obscurity at Bowling Green to a record setter and he's now in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens. Alex Smith was one of the five finalists for the Heisman Trophy at Utah. Obviously, Chris Leak, whom he will coach at Florida, is further along than either Harris or Smith were when Mullen began coaching them, but both of them were pure pocket passers who were transitioned into spread-option quarterbacks. We still don't know how much of the option game will be in this offense, but Meyer has said that the offense is adapted to the personnel, not the other way around. According to the Utah website, Mullen "Mullen played an active role in the play calling decisions as well, by serving as offensive coordinator Mike Sanford's primary on-field advisor on game days." He knows Meyer's offense and that's a start, plus if he's handled some of the play calling before he should have a feel for it by now. Considering Meyer had a different offensive coordinator at both Bowling Green and Utah, I'd have to say he (Meyer) has a good eye for coaches and knows who can handle his offense.
RH FROM JACKSONVILLE WRITES: Hey Franz, what can you tell me about Chuck Heater? Wasn't he some kind of ace recruiter at Notre Dame or something like that?
Heater has a really nice resume' and a strong reputation for recruiting. He played for Bo Schembechler at Michigan where he was a second team All-Big Ten selection as a running back on teams that went 41-3-1. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints out of Michigan. In addition to Coach Meyer, he's worked for Earle Bruce (Ohio State), Lou Holtz (Notre Dame), Bill McCartney (Colorado) and Barry Alavarez (Wisconsin). He's been the recruiting coordinator at Colorado, Washington, and Utah. He produced three top 15 recruiting classes while at Washington, and I've been told by friends in the coaching profession that McCartney says he is the best recruiter he ever had on one of his staffs. Most of his coaching experience is in the secondary, although he has coached running backs, linebackers and tight ends. He was the defensive coordinator at Colorado State when Meyer was on the CSU staff. As a defensive backs coach, he's coached four first round NFL draft picks including Todd Lyght at Notre Dame. As a tight ends coach he coached one first rounder while at Colorado.
RON FROM TAMPA WRITES: I think Urban Meyer is a young Steve Spurrier. He's got a brilliant offensive mind and a lot of self-confidence. When I watched the press conference Tuesday, I kept thinking that this is Spurrier all over again except not as arrogant. I really believe this guy can lead us to a national championship. I also think he has the kind of personality that we need. The three years of Ron Zook divided a lot of Gators. Firing Zook caused a lot more division. I think Meyer is going to unite the Gator nation again.
Urban's got a lot of things about him that are reminders of Spurrier starting with the kind of self-confidence that you like to see in a head coach. He truly believes that he is going to win any time he steps out on the field. He's even got that little smirk that I loved to see on Spurrier's face. Gosh I loved the way he would smirk and it just drove opponents crazy. I think he's the kind of coach our opponents are going to absolutely despise, and to me, that's good. Bum Phillips once said that if your opponents like you a lot, chances are they schedule you for homecoming. I can't see that anyone is going to enjoy scheduling the Gators while Urban Meyer is the coach. I'll disagree with you about the arrogance. I think he's every bit as arrogant as Spurrier and again, I think that's a good thing. Spurrier's arrogance comes from supreme confidence that in any situation he will come out on top. I think Meyer has that same confidence and therefore, that same kind of arrogance. I am hoping his kind of arrogance is seen very quickly in our team. I liked the way he talked at his press conference about how he loved watching how Florida under Spurrier used to intimidate opponents just by the way they walked, talked and took the field. I like that he said "I hope you saw some of that in the way Utah played." He has every intention of instilling the swagger back into the Gators. You have to love that! I agree that far too many Gators were divided over the hiring and the firing of Zook, but that's over and done with. It's time to focus on the future and I agree with you that Urban seems to be someone who will unite the Gators.
MK FROM ATLANTA WRITES: I am very concerned about recruiting. Spencer Adkins has committed to Miami. Mincey has committed to FSU. Avery Atkins has backed off his commitment to UF and so has Dee Morley. Our best recruiters were Wickline, Fedora and Miller. They're all going to Illinois with Zook. Do you think we can still have a good recruiting class? Do you think Zook will hurt our recruiting?
I think the class will be BETTER than good. It's December and I don't even think recruiting gets into high gear until after New Year. I've always believed that anything you can get prior to New Year is just gravy, but that the real recruiting battle takes place in the month before signing day. That being said, I think it's possible the Gators can jump start recruiting with some early entries. I believe that Reggie Nelson will get the ball rolling by keeping his commitment. I find it hard to believe that he's suddenly leaning to St. Bob's Home for Wayward Boys. Getting Eddie Haupt and Ronnie Wilson in early is going to help, and I think that they will have a bearing on at least two or three other recruits. I think that the two kids from Mainland (Jonathon Garner and Atkins) will be Gators on signing day although I think Garner is going to have a tough time saying no to Spurrier at South Carolina. While Wickline, Fedora and Miller were outstanding recruiters, I think that keeping Mike Locksley on the Gator staff will help salvage a lot of recruits who have been in a holding pattern for the last six or seven weeks. I think we also may underestimate Meyer as a recruiter. Everything I hear about him is that he's death on a close. I think Zook will get some good talent out of Florida and he may even get a player or two that Florida might have wanted, but I don't think he will do much damage to the class overall.
Send your comments to Franz Beard at firstname.lastname@example.org . All letters to the editor will be read personally by Franz and those that don't make it to the weekly letters column will be put to good use to line the perch of Ralphie the macaw, the official parrot of Gator Country.