Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Zook's Stand on Standing Is a Team Thing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Zook's Stand on Standing Is a Team Thing

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

GAINESVILLE -- The sign stuck in the ground at the entrance to Sanders Practice Field reminds fans of Ron Zook's new rule.

No sitting. No kneeling. Two bits, four bits, all for the Gators, stand up . . . or we'll holler for security.

As you are aware, Coach Zook has stated that this is a "WORK AREA." Therefore the coaches and athletes request that you stand while observing practice. If you are unable to stand due to a medical hardship, please alert the staff before entering the facility. Thank you, University of Florida football.

When you walk through the gates and turn to the right, there is a slab of concrete where the metal bleachers used to be. On Monday, an unseasonably hot day, about 50 fans came to watch practice. They all stood. And many echoed comments of Eli Jackson, a UF grad and high school teacher in Crystal River.

"I definitely don't mind," said Jackson, 28. "It's kind of a neat idea, sort of a we're-all-in-it-together feeling."

Not everyone has this feeling. On the first day of practice, fans showed up unaware that Steve Spurrier's laid-back traditions had been replaced with a Coughlin-esque ambience. One 71-year-old woman who has been attending spring practices for years brought a lawn chair. She was told to put it in her car. She did and returned to watch some of the practice. Others, however, left. And at least one fan, who refused to stand, was kicked out, which led to UF making the crawler at the bottom of the CNN screen, tucked among news from the Middle East.

University of Florida ejects fan . . .

After the initial backlash, Zook considered rescinding the rule. He said, "We've got the best fans in the world and I sure don't want to get anyone upset." He talked to his players about a change. They told him not to. …

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