Thirty (or so) Years of Great Hires

With the hiring of Kevin O'Sullivan to inject some energy into the Gator baseball program, Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley has to hope that he has finally made a "great" hire for that program. Foley has made a number of hires throughout the years and most have worked out very well and some have been phenomenally successful.

This fall, I begin my 30th year covering Florida Gator sports, and the hiring of O'Sullivan got me thinking about the best hires the Gators have made over the years. I began writing names down and have put together what I believe is the 30 best hires in those 30 years. For convenience, I also included anyone on the job in the fall of '78 in this analysis.

I look at the quality of the hire based on three major factors:

  • The success that coach had at UF
  • The risk level or inspiration behind the hire
  • The prestige the hire brought to UF over a period of years

    I considered everyone from trainers and managers to broadcasters and SIDs. I considered head coaches, assistant coaches and administrators. Over the next couple of weeks, we will count down some of the finest hiring decisions the University of Florida has ever made.

    #30 Anne Marie Rogers ----- In 1985, Anne Marie (then Lawler) was hired to bring some integrity to the management of Women's Athletics at UF. She did that and more. In her 17 years as the Gators' Senior Women's Administrator, she oversaw a program that won eleven SEC Women's All Sports trophies. She also saw Florida flourish in volleyball and played a major role in establishing soccer and fast pitch softball in Gainesville.

    #29 Beverly Kearney ----- A truly inspiring hire occurred in 1988 when Kearney became the first black head coach at the University of Florida. Kearney spent just five years in Gainesville, but her final season saw the Gators win the NCAA Indoor Championship as well as the SEC Indoor and Outdoor Titles. Kearney left the Gators for Texas after the 1992 season, but her hiring was a big deal for the Gators.

    #28 Bill Koss ----- Since the mid-seventies, Bill Koss has been synonymous with Florida Gator Basketball. He was first hired to do color on the Gator Radio Network alongside Otis Boggs. He broadcast Gator games for Coaches John Lotz, Ed Visscher, Norman Sloan, Don DeVoe, Lon Kruger and now Billy Donovan. He also invested untold hours and dollars in producing "Pond Birds", the unofficial history of Gator Basketball. A former Gator basketball player under Sloan in the sixties, you have to go back to the JFK administration to find a Gator Basketball season that didn't involve my partner on Sun Sports.

    #27 Keith Tribble ----- While Beverly Kearney was a first on the coaching side, Keith Tribble was the first black in the Gator front office and has carved out a fine career since that point. Tribble was a solid offensive guard for the Gators in the seventies and had oversight for Gator spring sports through much of the eighties. That post included overseeing the initial construction of McKethan Stadium. If Jeremy Foley ever moves on to be Red Sox President or SEC Commissioner, Tribble should be summoned from his post at UCF to return to his alma mater.

    #26 Norman Sloan (part deux) ----- When Sloan was re-hired by UF in 1980 I was disappointed. I thought Florida needed a young, energetic guy like Jim Valvano at Iona, but instead they got an old war horse. Well, that war horse struggled at first with three consecutive losing seasons, but beginning in 1984, the Gators began a run of three straight NIT appearances followed by the first three NCAA bids in school history. Sloan brought the Gators their first SEC Title in 1989.

    Stay tuned for Part II on Thursday...

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