Best Gator Hires – Part Four

Our stroll down memory lane continues as we examine some of the best hires the Florida Gators have made. We've gone back thirty years or so, which is when I began covering them, and we also considered everyone who was already on hand in the fall of 1978.

Remember the basis for this ranking comes down to the success the coach had at UF, the risk level or inspiration of the hire and the prestige the coach eventually brought to Florida. Before we get into the top half of our list, let's review the hires we ranked No. 15-30:

#30 Anne Marie Rogers (Lawler)
#29 Beverly Kearney
#28 Bill Koss
#27 Keith Tribble
#26 Norman Sloan
#25 Ron Aldy
#24 Andy Lopez
#23 Dr. Keith Carodine
#22 Greg Troy
#21 Norm Carlson
#20 Charley Pell
#19 Mimi Ryan
#18 Richard Giannini
#17 Bob Stoops
#16 Jamie McCloskey

# 15 Buddy Alexander ----- If the rankings were based solely on performance, Alexander would be in the top ten. However, his hiring was a pretty obvious move since he was already one of the top coaches in the SEC at LSU and is a Florida native (St. Petersburg). Alexander has led the Gators to seven SEC Titles and two NCAA Championships (1993, 2001). His 20 year run in Gainesville makes him the Dean of Gator coaches.

#14 Larry Shyatt ----- The Gator Basketball team allowed almost 70 points a game in 2004 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, surrendering 75 to Manhattan. Billy Donovan decided it was time to get defensive and brought in veteran Larry Shyatt to be Florida's untitled defensive coordinator. In three years under Shyatt the Gators have allowed opponents to score 63.1, 63.5 and 62.6 points a game. This year Florida opponents shot just .407 from the field and .285 from three point range. His role in helping the Gators to consecutive NCAA Titles may qualify him as the greatest assistant coach in UF history.

#13 Becky Burleigh ----- When Florida launched its soccer program in 1994 the Gators hired a 26-year old coach from tiny Berry College. Becky Burleigh had already won two NAIA Titles at Berry and added an NCAA crown with the Gators in 1998. Burleigh's Gators have also won seven SEC Tournament Titles on the way to posting a 212-55-17 record.

#12 Ernestine Weaver ----- She had won National Championships at Clarion State when she took over the Gator Gymnastics program in 1980. Florida's meets were pretty well kept secrets before Weaver and her then husband Jim began promoting the team and educating the fan base. Florida regularly drew crowds of 5,000-plus and won five SEC Titles plus the AIAW National Title in 1982.

#11 Roland Thornqvist ----- Florida's personable Women's Tennis Coach never heard the adage "never be the man to replace the man". He stepped in after Andy Brandi's incredible career at Florida and has done a superb job over six seasons. The Gators are 149-13 under Thornqvist with an NCAA Title in 2003. The Gator women have finished in the top four in four of the last six seasons and should be positioned for a strong NCAA run in 2008. He was a great hire since his 42-30 record at North Carolina was far from awe inspiring.

If you think that group was impressive, wait until we get to the top ten hires in Gator history.

  • Part One
  • Part Two
  • Part Three

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