Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Foley Welcomes Flak over Zook Hire

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Foley Welcomes Flak over Zook Hire

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley knew he was going to be criticized when he hired Ron Zook to replace Steve Spurrier, but he welcomed it. They gripe, Foley reasoned, because they care.

"Trust me," Foley said. "I found out how many people care."

As soon as the story broke that Zook -- UF's defensive coordinator from 1991-93 before being demoted to special teams/linebackers coach for two seasons -- was hired to be UF's next football coach, the e-mails started pouring in. Some were positive, some expressed their faith in Foley's decision, and some were, well, not positive.

Foley has a message for those people who sent not-so-positive e-mails, phone calls, or letters: He believes in the hire, and he wants you to be patient. Give it time, then you'll be convinced, too.

"The proof's in the pudding is not today or tomorrow," Foley said. "The proof's in the pudding next fall, and the fall after that, and the fall after that. I assure you, we're excited about that.

"I feel about this hire exactly the way I felt when I hired Billy Donovan. I see similar qualities in terms of energy, passion, commitment, love for this program. I know Ron as a recruiter when he was back here in the early '90s. His talents speak for themselves. I'm firmly convinced in his abilities. . . . I firmly believe he'll build on the program Coach Spurrier left behind."

It may take longer for people to accept Zook than Foley hopes. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran an online poll asking fans whether they were in favor of or opposed to Zook's hiring. The results were 4-to-1 against.

Judging by the e-mails I've received, it seems about the same ratio. Most were supportive, but there were several that were extremely critical of the hire. …

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