Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Talking Football: Coaches' Early Word on the 2002 Season Florida: Ron Zook No Guess for Gators This Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Talking Football: Coaches' Early Word on the 2002 Season Florida: Ron Zook No Guess for Gators This Year

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

Tradition is important to Ron Zook, especially when it concerns University of Florida football. But he felt he had to break one last night at the annual Gator Gathering at the Morocco Shrine Auditorium.

No prediction.

No snappy one-liner, promising a Sugar Bowl berth or an All-Southeastern Conference quarterback. No bold statement regarding a trip to Tempe, Ariz. Zook, who said 11 times in his introductory news conference that he wasn't Steve Spurrier, continues to make sure everyone realizes that by ending Spurrier's tradition of making a prediction for the upcoming season at the Gator Gathering.

Considering the fact the Gators face the toughest schedule in school history, have to replace 10 starters, along with the best kicker in school history, and have an almost entirely new coaching staff, that's probably a good idea.

"No, no, no, no, no," Zook said quickly when prodded early in the evening for what his prediction might be. "When I woke up [yesterday] morning, that was the first thing that went through my mind, that everyone thinks they're going to get a prediction.

"I don't know that we're in a predicting state right now. I can tell where I feel our football team is right now and the things we feel like we need to make sure we make fast progress in. But I don't know that we're in a predicting stage.

"I'm fully aware that coach used to make the prediction, but I don't know if he did it in his first year, anyway."

Actually, Spurrier did make a prediction his first season. He pointed to quarterbacks Kyle Morris and Shane Matthews, who were standing in the back of the room at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds, and said he wasn't sure which one would be the starter but the one who won the job would have an all-conference season.

Matthews was the Southeastern Conference's Player of the Year that year.

Zook's no-prediction stance didn't bother the approximately 1,200 fans who turned out to hear the first-time head coach speak. …

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