It was only uncomfortable a couple of times in the large meeting room yesterday under the stadium where the University of Florida makes their big athletic program announcements. New Head Football Coach Ron Zook was at the end of answering questions and was rambling on, telling a story about how he was hired in Pittsburgh. He was clearly enjoying himself, but Florida officials were fidgeting in the corner, the Sports Information Staff scrambling to try and let Zook and the assembled media know that this meeting was about over.
It was pretty typical Zook though, not orthodox, not some coach speak answer but in this case a guy telling a bunch of other guys a story. He was not polished yesterday, but got his message across. It was pretty good insight into how he’ll be as a coach: excitable, upbeat, passionate, and prepared. He’ll go through some growing pains, learning how to be a head coach. He might say the wrong thing a couple of times, and might step on some toes, but he’ll get it figured out.
As Athletic Director Jeremy Foley outlined his odyssey searching for a new coach, Zook stood in the corner, head down, arms folded, listening to how two coaches in front of him turned down the job. It seemed to reinforce Zook’s determination to show the doubters that he can be the next leader of the Gator Nation.
Eleven times during his remarks, Zook said, “I’m not Steve Spurrier.” Fans are hoping not to echo that sentiment eleven times next year after each game saying “he’s not Steve Spurrier.” He won over a lot of doubting Gators yesterday, and the team seemed genuinely and pleasantly surprised exiting their first full meeting with the new coach. He said all the right things and now, with all that ceremony out of the way, comes the hard part.