Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Zook: Credit for This Year's Team at UF?

"When Ron Zook was fired at Florida two years ago, he and his supporters pointed out that he had recruited a young team that would blossom into a national championship contender." article

As we said in an earlier post, no one can argue Ron Zook's ability to cajole high school athletes into following him. This is not even a point of contention. However, what about his ability to COACH these athletes and develop the resources necessary in a program to support the improvement of these athletes? Is the performance of Florida's football team this year and their earning a spot in the BCS Title game a vindication of Zook's performance at UF?

Only three of the Gators' probable starters in the national championship game are not Zook recruits.

''Even though we don't get to coach them, I'm proud of them,'' Zook said Wednesday. ''We told them when we recruited them, they were going to have a chance to play for a national championship. It's good to see their goals and dreams come true.''

Does anyone believe that if Zook were still there, those guys would be playing for a national title? Anyone?

Realistically, there was some reasonable talent at FL when Zook got there, not the best of Spurrier's recruiting efforts, but the number of guys that got drafted substantiates that the cupboard was not bear. And Zook brought in solid talent from day one.

What was damning for Zook was this: Improvement. Not only did the team's records not improve over the Zook years, but performance did not either. The same mistakes were made in game situations and the development of the players was woefully lacking and obvious. That reflects on the head coach and on the staff he puts together.

Over the course of his years at UF, there was no evidence that the program was improving. Can you fault the administration for looking at the talent that was there and saying, "We need to get someone in here that can do something with this talent."

The same sort of thing happened at UNC in basketball. Matt Doherty brought in great talent. And the administration realized, he just wasn't the man to mold that talent into a championship.

Do guys like Doherty and Zook deserve some credit for what the team did after they were canned? Sure, their tireless recruiting layed the ground work. They were the bricklayers.

Can we say with any certainty that those teams would have played for championships if they stayed? No way. It takes an architect to plan and design the finished product.

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