VETTEL: Part II - Foley Likes Buzz Around Urban

There's no question the last three years have been hard on Gator Athletic Director. It's one thing when most of those who cover your team criticize your selection of a new head coach, but it's another thing when the critics are proven correct. For now, however there are no critics to be found and even though Urban Meyer has the same number of coaching wins at UF that you and I do; Foley is again viewed as a genius for his best hire since wresting Billy Donovan from Marshall.

As we continue our discussions with the Florida Athletic Director, we talk about the buzz surrounding Florida Football, the resultant demand for high priced tickets which went unsold last year and Foley's role in trying to help the BCS survive its latest "tweaking".

LV: Well Jeremy you've been through spring practice, the Orange and Blue game and a dozen or so Gator Clubs and the buzz surrounding Urban Meyer hasn't subsided one bit, has it?

JF: No, it hasn't, Larry, and that's a good thing for the Gator Nation, good for the program and obviously it's a credit to Urban. He's come in here taking charge; so to speak, but when he's out among the faithful they can see what we saw in him when we hired him. He's done a very good job, worked very hard and put together an excellent staff so the buzz is loud and I imagine it will continue to grow as the season approaches. It's been fun and I imagine it will be even more fun ahead for all us Gators.

LV: The buzz has also been noticeable at the ticket window where demand has gone through the roof. How significant a sign is that at this point?

JF: It's a healthy sign. Our fans have always been great and it's not like we had a huge drop off. We always sell a lot of season tickets and continue to sell a lot of tickets. Even when things haven't gone our way our fans have always been behind us. What's encouraging is that we've sold all the premium seats (Champions Club, Touchdown Terrace) which usually takes longer to sell and are harder to sell. That shows not only the excitement around our football program but also the commitment of our fans.

LV: Let's talk about Urban a little bit, he has his own way of doing things. Now he has the players having to earn their way into the locker room. What's your view of what he's been doing?

JF: Well, I think you said it up front he has his own way of doing things, and a strong belief in his own system. I think that confidence is healthy and I think that why he has been successful everywhere he's gone. I think he's trying to send a message to our guys that there are a lot of benefits about being at the University of Florida. Candidly I will tell you occasionally I get concerned sometimes that our athletes across the board don't appreciate the resources here at the University of Florida. Sometimes they're guilty of taking things for granted and that's not good. I think Urban is coming here and trying to change a mindset and set a tone. Yeah, it's different and it generates a lot of conversation but they are things he strongly believes in, and when he believes in something he's going to follow through on it.

LV: Have you gotten much feedback from it?

JF: I have not gotten any; I mean I read the articles and hear comments people have made but I haven't heard anything from the players' point of view. They've bought into it a thousand percent just as they've bought into just about everything he's done since he's been here. I think he's just a guy who has come in here and has a goal and certainly has planned steps in order to achieve that goal and he's not going to deviate from that plan.

LV: Whenever you have transition there's always a concern whether players will buy in or walk away. Only two returning players have decided to walk away.

JF: And I think that's a very good sign and Urban would be the first to tell you he's been extremely impressed with the dedication of those players and ho hard they want to work. He told me the other day, "Jeremy these guys really want to win". He's just really excited about what's ahead.

LV: One thing all Gators hope is in the future is a return to the National Championship game and that bring me to the BCS. Once again the system college football uses to determine its national champion is undergoing a major change with the Associated Press insisting its poll not be part of the decision making formula. It seems sensible to me just to have a selection committee but there appears to be a lot of resistance to that, too. How do you think the two teams ought to be chosen?

JF: I'm on a BCS advisory committee and a year ago we came up with a new way of calculating the formula in terms of having two polls and six computer polls and recalculating the votes and percentages and everything. And I think from a BCS point of view, as much credibility as we can generate important So to come back this year and totally change our system doesn't make any sense to me. You lost the AP Poll, so lets come up with a new poll, but keep the same system. There may be some time when we come up with a selection committee I just don't think we're there yet. Yearly we'll talk about a BCS tweak and this year the tweak is a new poll, but the formula will be consistent to what it was a year ago.

LV: One other tweak a lot of us would like to see is eliminating the anonymity of the coaches' poll. We saw what happened with Texas last year and you have a problem when a coach in a conference who gets a share of the revenue generated has a vested financial interest in the outcome of the poll. Yet, there's no accountability, are you comfortable with that?

JF: No I never have been and we talked a lot about that. Some final decisions still have to be made, but I think there's going to be transparency of some kind in all these polls next go ‘round. Now how often or when I don't know but I think at some time people will be held accountable for their vote and people will be aware who they voted for. I think that's healthy and that'll be good for the BCS and its credibility. Now nothing's been finalized but I think it's headed in that direction, some transparency.

Well, I still don't like the BCS and I never will. Maybe the key to forcing the powers that be to create a playoff will be the publication of each coach's vote. Once those guys lose their shield of anonymity, they might not want to take part in this fraud. At least I can hope!

Still to come from my conversation with Jeremy a look at the state of the Gator program, facilities on the drawing board and closing in on a plan to add another women's team.


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