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The Coaching Search: Day Twelve

Just another day of coaching news, and another day of different reports from the various news papers. <br><br> For the latest in the coaching search from Chris Pool, check out the <A href="http://mb9.scout.com/fillinoisinsiderfrm4">IlliniBoard.com Premium Fan Forum</a>.<br><br>

RUMORS
  • From the Buffalo News ...
    It appears as if Zook's next job will take him to Champaign, Ill. Zook's job search could end Monday - when Illinois is expected to offer him its head coaching job - according to the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun.

    Zook reportedly moved to the top of the Illini's wish list after interviewing last week with university officials in Chicago.
  • From the State Journal Register ...
    Sources initially said Zook would be announced as Illini coach Monday, but a two-week affirmative-action period that requires the job remain open doesn't expire until 5 p.m. that day.

    That would leave little time to formalize the deal and call a news conference Monday, so the announcement probably will come Tuesday or Wednesday.

    Sources in Florida and Illinois who are close to Zook and his staff said Zook has accepted the job. The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun also reported in Saturday's editions that Zook has taken the Illinois job.
  • From the Associated Press via the Daily Southtown ...
    Meanwhile, Zook is expected to be named Illinois' new head coach Monday or Tuesday, replacing the fired Ron Turner.
  • In a report from the Jacksonville Times Union Ron Zook denies that he has been offerred the job at Illinois. The report goes on to state that Zook will meet with Ole Miss early this week.
    Ron Zook on Saturday denied a published report that he will be named the head coach at Illinois on Monday.

    "I have not been offered the job at Illinois," Zook said. "That's all speculation. I don't know that's going to happen."

    Zook interviewed with Illinois officials on Tuesday in Chicago, and a source close to the situation said Zook will meet with Ole Miss officials about the Rebels' vacancy early this week.

NEWS STORIES
From Ed Sherman of the Chicago Tribune ...
There won't be any questions about whether Zook will throw himself completely into the job at Illinois. But some will question whether he would be up to the job.

These days, Zook's coaching skills bring forth a mixture of high praise and harsh criticism. Zook is lauded throughout the coaching fraternity, receiving platitudes for his tireless work ethic from former players and bosses that include Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher and New Orleans coach Jim Haslett.

"He's an incredibly hard worker and a phenomenal recruiter," said Bill Curry, the former college coach who called several of Zook's games at Florida as an analyst for ESPN.

"He's value-driven and cares about his players. If I were an athletic director, I'd hire him in a heartbeat."

From Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News Gazette ...
The reasons to hire him seem to follow Guenther requirements for his next coach.

Great recruiting? Check.

Tom Lemming ranks him among the best and has high praise for Zook's Florida assistants, most of whom will follow him to C-U.

High energy? Absolutely.

He hit his feet running at Florida in 2002 and hasn't stopped since. He will do what is asked of him. To a fault. He still might be on the job if he had told Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley "Do it yourself" when asked to meet with some fraternity members. That well-publicized, but apparently overblown, incident made it easier for Foley to fire Zook.

Head coaching experience? Sure.

Although three years doesn't reach the level of some of the potential candidates, it is two more seasons than Turner had when he took over at Illinois in 1996. Guenther didn't make head coaching experience a must when he announced the opening, but he didn't rule it out, either.

A player's coach? Unquestionably.

So who is going to coach Florida in their Peach Bowl appearance against Miami? A Naples-based lawyer named Marty Edwards thinks it will Larry Fedora.
With Zook the front-runner to get the head coaching job at Illinois, and Meyer locked in to coach his Utah team in a BCS bowl, Edwards believes Gators offensive coordinator Larry Fedora will coach the team at the Peach Bowl on New Year's Day.

Is Larry Fedora interested in staying at Florida under Urban Meyer? It appears so from this report thanks to the Jacksonville Times Union. According to Florida Atheltic Director, the decision on the coaching staff is entirely new head coach Urban Meyer's.
Fedora, who will remain on UF's staff at least through the Friday, Dec. 31 Peach Bowl game against Miami, has already encouraged UF officials, including athletic director Jeremy Foley, to lobby Meyer to consider retaining his services, sources told the Times-Union. However, the decision is strictly up to Meyer.
It looks like Fedora will still be on the Florida staff through the Peach Bowl, and from the Naples paper's report, he will probably be the coach of the Gators in their Peach Bowl appearance against Miami.
"If [Meyer] is interested in retaining me [as offensive coordinator], I'm definitely interested in staying if that situation works out," said Fedora, who has yet to meet the new UF coach. "My family loves it here."

Meyer is expected to bring some Utah offensive assistant coaches with him to Florida, possibly offensive line coach John Hevesy, quarterbacks coach Dan Mullen, wide receivers/special teams coach Billy Gonzales and tight end coach Keith Uperesa. All except Uperesa have been on Meyer's staff in their current positions at both Utah (2003-04) and Bowling Green (200-01), but only Uperesa has experience as an offensive coordinator (Idaho State, 1999-2000).

Fedora, 42, is a proven play-caller at Florida and Middle Tennessee State (2001), but has no previous association with Meyer. If Meyer chooses to bring in his own offensive coordinator, Fedora will likely have the option of going with fired UF coach Ron Zook to Illinois, where he is a leading candidate, or possibly Ole Miss. Fedora has also been contacted by Florida State and Clemson to gauge his interest in potential openings at those schools.

"I have a wife and four children and don't have a job [beyond the 2004 season], so I'm open to anything," said Fedora.
What about Defensive Coordinator, Charlie Strong? The Jacksonville paper is reporting that Strong is expected to receive serious consideration to stay at Florida under Urban Meyer.
It's uncertain how many current UF assistants will be retained by Meyer, but according to sources, defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is expected to receive serious consideration to keep his job because he and Meyer worked together on the staff at Notre Dame.


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