FOOTBALL: A Few Minutes With Coach Doc Holliday

WEST PALM BEACH -- Coach John "Doc" Holliday has long enjoyed a reputation as the best recruiter of football talent in South Florida. After 25 years of doing it for West Virginia and North Carolina State, Holliday is now opening recruiting doors for the Florida Gators in talent rich South Florida. He's spent the last three days down in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties along with Coach Urban Meyer evaluating talent. Wednesday, they hit eight schools in Palm Beach County.

At Wednesday evening's Gator Gathering hosted by the Palm Beach County Gator Club at the Marriott Hotel, Holliday spent a few minutes talking with Gator Country about recruiting for the Florida Gators.

FB: You've been recruiting in South Florida for 25 plus years and what is it that you think that has ben the biggest change in the recruiting landscape down here in the past 25 years?

DH: I think number one there are a lot more people here than there were 25 years ago as far as the number of schools that are down here recruiting. Go back about 25 years ago and there were three or four out of state schools down here recruiting and that was about it. Of course, you had Miami, Florida State and Florida. I think the biggest change is the number of schools that recruit down here … it's very competitive. The Miami area hasn't changed all that much as far as numbers go but the Palm Beach area and Broward there are more schools than there used to be.

FB: I'm impressed with the number of kids down here who have good grades these days. It seems the message has gotten out to the kids that they just aren't going to get in school if they don't make the grades. Does it seem there has been more emphasis on academics down here than say 10 years ago?

DH: I think everybody was really concerned when the NCAA came out with new rules that the SAT scores had to be at a certain level and the core grades had to be there and all that. I think that if you set the standards, the kids will rise to the standards. I think the coaches in the ara and the counselors in this area have done a great job in educating the kids on what they need for the most part. There's just a lot more kids aware of what they have to have and I think the standards are going to rise even more so it's going to be critical that the coaches and counselors get the kids ready to push it even harder in the classroom.

FB: I know you've probably been asked this at least a hundred times but after all these years of recruiting, does it ever get old?

DH: We enjoy it. There are a lot of battles that go on and a lot of things that happen but I know an awful lot of people down here. Some things never change although it's always a different fire that you're fighting every year. It is a challenge and it's fun to walk in there with a Gator on your shirt. That makes it easier than some times to an extent of what it used to be but I enjoy it. I enjoy getting out with people, and then working with a guy like Urban Meyer. I've never been around a guy who recruits as hard as he does. He gets out and works just as hard at it as we do.

FB: Does having that Gator on your shirt really get that door opened a little bit faster?

DH: I think we'll find out next year when we sign the next class. You never know until signing day. I've always felt that Florida was the best job in college football so the more I'm around and the more I'm in Gainesville to see all that Florida has to offer as far as academics and the school, the tradition and all the other things, there's an awful lot to sell. We're going to get the message out to all these kids in South Florida because Gainesville really is a special place. Coach Meyer is going to do a great job up there. Coach Meyer knows what it's going to take to win a national championship and he's going to get that done. When you combine what he brings to the table along with what Florida and the school itself brings to the table, there's no reason in the world we can't be successful in recruiting.

FB: Is it kind of fun to come down here and see a kid you recruited maybe 15 or 18 years ago and now he's teaching or coaching at a school? And what does it feel like to see a kid like that and know that you impacted his life by giving him that scholarship that he used to get a college degree?

DH: Well, there is no question I see a heckuva lot of them down here these days but what makes you feel old … the only thing I don't like about recruiting is now I'm recruiting the kids of the kids I once recruited. That just tells you I'm getting pretty damned old to run around recruiting those kids. It's rewarding and it's fun to see kids I once recruited who are coaching or teaching or successful in business. I've got a lot of great relationships down here. I know a lot of these kids and it's just great to see how successful some of them have turned out.

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