Dear Jeremy Foley, UF athletic director extraordinaire:
It's not too late to change your mind.
You fired your head coach on Monday, Foley, but there may still be time to make this situation right.
Thanks to your swift, knee-jerk reaction to fire Ron Zook - but allowing him to keep coaching - you have left the door open to make sure that you don't make the biggest mistake of your athletic directing career. Well, besides firing your head coach five days before playing a bitter rival.
So, it's simple: Save Ron Zook.
Hey, we all know what you must have felt like Saturday night after losing to one of the worst teams in college football. We've all been there before (see: UT-Memphis '96).
But kicking the Zooker out so fast? That's not the answer.
Everybody loves Zook's zany antics - who didn't crack a crocodile smile like the one on the UF media guide last fall after the new ball coach verbally attacked some frat guys in Gainesville? - and they go over especially well in Athens and Knoxville.
Who would've ever thought that Georgia and UT fans would genuinely like a Florida coach? That's progress in my book.
But it's not just his flair for flare-ups that impresses opposing fans, it's his sincerity and generosity as well. Would He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named - say, Visormort - have ever allowed lowly Mississippi State to celebrate a home win over a ranked Florida squad ... wait, bad example.
Would he have entertained the notion that, after 32 years, maybe the Vols were ready for a two-game win streak against the Gators? I don't think so.
But it was no big deal for Zook. He spreads around the wealth, winning just enough to save his job (20-13 as of Saturday) and make UF rich with bowl-appearance money.
His Robin Hood-ish nature helped Gator popularity swell like Barry Bonds' head, spreading into Tallahassee and all around the SEC.
I saw the look on your face Monday when you struggled to come up with an explanation for Zook's success in the recruiting wars but not on the gridiron. It's actually pretty simple: Athletes don't like to be hated, and with Zook at the helm, they couldn't be much more popular. Players were lining up to sign with Florida, where they could be loved by a much more enduring fan base than merely that of the Gators - everybody else!
But all that will go out the window if you allow Visormort to return to power. Jim Donnan told ESPN.com that you and your minions had already contacted Spur - I mean, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named - about the UF coaching vacancy.
I've got to tell you J-Man, he's no good for you.
You tried to hide it on Monday.
"We will discuss this job with a number of coaches, and obviously if Coach (Spurn-my-alma-mater) is interested, we will sit down with him, " you said - but we all see what's happening here.
Just like his idol, Voldemort, the Heisman Trophy-winning Ol' Ball Coach has been sustaining his evil powers by drinking the blood of unicorns, biding his time until he can come back to power in the Swamp.
So it's up to you. Only you, Mr. Foley, have the power to cast him back into the darkness - or at least to Austin, Texas - far, far away from Vols, Dawgs and Tigers (oh, my!).
Just take some time to think about it, okay?
If you hadn't hired your last coach so fast, we wouldn't be in this mess anyway.
- Austin Ward is a junior in journalism at The University of Tennessee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ol' Ball Coach biding time for UF job
Published: Thu Oct 28, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:31 p.m.