Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Recruits Should Silence Zook Bashers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Recruits Should Silence Zook Bashers

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

When Ron Zook was on Tennessee's coaching staff in the mid-1980s, he never forgot this piece of advice from then-UT defensive coordinator Ken Donahue: "It's better to be known as a bad coach with good players than as a good coach with bad players."

Donahue has since died, but it should come as no surprise that Florida's head coach is using that bit of wisdom to resuscitate his own image.

Whatever Gator nation might think of Zook as you-know-who's successor, and there's plenty of mixed feelings on that issue, nobody can dispute the guy's strengths as a recruiter. And in the cutthroat world of college football, getting the best players is more than half the battle in building a national power.

Those who question Zook's game-day decisions or readiness to be a head coach won't be inundating that Zook-bashing Web site with complaints this week. Because when it comes to recruiting, Zook can hunt with the best of them.

"Ron [Zook] loves recruiting, he's tireless at it," said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley. "He's like Billy Donovan that way."

Yesterday, after seven seasons on the job, Donovan and Florida's basketball team earned a No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history. Time will tell if Zook follows the same path, but there are signs he's on a solid track.

Don't go by the results tomorrow on national signing day when players will officially sign letters-of-intent. Don't base it on these hit-or-miss rankings that recruiting analysts put out, even if Florida is expected to assemble a consensus top-five class.

No, the best way to judge Zook's salesmanship skills is to ask those players who have pledged their future to the Gators. They're the ones willing to place faith in a coach criticized by second-guessers after an 8-5 record last season. …

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