Best Gator Hires – Part Six

We have reached the part in the countdown where we look at the six best hires the Florida Gators have made over the past thirty years or so that I have been covering them. We also considered everyone who was already on hand when I began covering the Gators 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 six on our list, let's review the hires we ranked No. 7-30.

#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
#14 Larry Shyatt
#13 Becky Burleigh
#12 Ernestine Weaver
#11 Roland Thornqvist
#10 Carol Ross
#9 Randy Reese
#8 Lon Kruger
#7 Jeremy Foley

#6 Urban Meyer ----- He was the hottest coach in the country in the fall of 2005 with his unbeaten, high scoring Utah football team. Still, Meyer had only been a head coach for four years, two years each at Bowling Green and Utah and had no ties to the state of Florida other than having recruited down here a few times. But that significant risk was rewarded almost instantly when Meyer came in and began talking about commitment, work ethic and (my personal favorite) accountability. In two years all he has done is post a 22-4 record and win the National Championship. Meyer has the look of a "lifer" and those who thought Steve Spurrier's twelve year run would never be approached ought to be re-thinking that position. I know I am.

#5 Rhonda Faehn ----- It's always a fairly high risk when you hire an assistant who has never been a head coach, but Florida scored big with the decision to hand the Gymnastics program over to Faehn five years ago. Faehn faced a huge challenge considering that Georgia and Alabama were not only the dominant programs in the SEC, they were two of the top four in the entire country. Yet in just five years, Faehn has the Gators right there with the nation's best. Florida brought home the SEC Title for the first time in 18 years this past spring and the Gators matched their highest NCAA finish ever with a third place performance in Salt Lake City.

#4 Mary Wise ----- One of the top coaches in the country, J. Scott Luster of LSU wanted the Florida job in 1991 and I wanted him to get it. Instead Florida followed the same (and boring) path of giving the job to a top SEC assistant, this time Mary Wise from Kentucky. Well, it turns out to be one of the best hires Florida has ever made. Wise has won the SEC Title in each of her 16 seasons with the Gators. Florida has also won 13 SEC Tournament Titles and made seven trips to the NCAA Final Four. Wise's UF record is an absurd 522-54 and in SEC regular season matches Wise's Gators are 233-5. Amazing!

So by now you probably have figured out who I consider to be the three greatest hires in UF history. You certainly know two of the three. But will we agree on the order?

  • Part One
  • Part Two
  • Part Three
  • Part Four
  • Part Five

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