Florida’s Scott Stricklin: Hiring a football coach more difficult than fans realize
GAINESVILLE, FLA. — The 2017 SEC football season will be remembered as the season all the coaches were fired. Some schools hired their new coach without any drama. Others? Well, that wasn’t the case.
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin had to both fire and hire a football coach in his first year on the job. I had the chance to meet with him in his office recently, and wanted to ask one question above all others: What makes hiring a football coach more difficult than fans realize?
“Not everybody wants your job,” Stricklin said.
That will be difficult for Florida fans to hear. Or Tennessee fans. Or fans of any school who can’t imagine why all coaches wouldn’t be honored to put that whistle around his neck. That’s the nature of fans.
Fans don’t understand why an athletic director can’t “just go and get him,” Stricklin said.
“It’s not like going to Best Buy and buying a television,” Stricklin said.
Used to be, before college football revenues exploded, a school such as Florida would have such vastly greater resources than a school such as Purdue or Kansas State or Washington State — and those schools greater resources than a Houston or a USF ora Memphis — a school from the upper tier could double or triple the salary of a coach it wanted from a lower tier and the offer was simply too large for that coach to turn down. When coaches were earning $1 million or $2 million a year, instead of $4 million or $5 million or $6 million, a big raise from a new school could put aside fears of fit or comfort.
A 50 percent raise to a person making $50,000 a year is more meaningful than a 50 percent raise to a person making $5,000,000 a year.
Now, coaches across the country in all Power Five conferences – and, increasingly, Group of Five conferences – are making more money than they ever could have imagined. That being the case, Florida or Tennessee or any other “big” school can’t simply offer a coach they want more money and have them drop everything and come running.
“There are family and geographic and other considerations,” Stricklin said when explaining why waving a big check in front of a candidate is no longer enough.
Fans think about salary and stadium size and how many national titles a school won 50 years ago when determining the attractiveness of an open job. They don’t think about the same factors they would consider if they were moving across the country to switch jobs: what does the spouse think, where would the kids go to school, are you happy at your current job, do you want to live in a new city and work for new bosses who may not have the same vision as you do.
Another complication fans don’t deal with when playing fantasy athletic director and hiring coaches: agents.
Stricklin admitted finding it difficult when talking to agents to accurately gauge their clients’ genuine interest in the Florida job as opposed to their just trying to use the Florida job to leverage their client’s current employer for more money. He admitted the same difficulty when receiving a call from a sitting Power Five coach who also expressed his interest in the position.
Agents have a job to do. With the college football media ever larger and more aggressive, all of them looking for juicy, coaching-search tidbits from “sources with knowledge of the situation” to share with their audiences, agents have an ocean of parrots eager to share information that puts their clients in demand – regardless of how it can make an athletic director’s job more difficult.
Limiting loose talk about the job was the primary reason Stricklin decided not to employ a search firm to help find a new coach. While Stricklin respects the work of search firms, he didn’t want more people with knowledge of the search sharing information with the media.
One candidate’s name that did reach the media was Chip Kelly.
You don’t have to talk to Stricklin long to recognize the fondness he has – still – for Kelly.
“Chip is one of those guys who you sit down to have a conversation with, and five hours later you look at your watch and feel like it’s only been 40 minutes,” Stricklin said.
Stricklin said he and Kelly have no hard feelings after the conversations they had regarding the Florida vacancy. Stricklin said Kelly called him just before Christmas, unprompted, simply to chat and see how he was doing.
Stricklin expressed no disappointment in not being able to hire Kelly when we spoke. His enthusiasm and confidence in Dan Mullen’s ability to do the job are over the moon, and his optimism for the future of Gator football is sky-high.
That almost wasn’t the case.
“If Dan said ‘no,’ we could have been in a situation similar to Tennessee,” Stricklin said. “The pool of a candidates is more like a puddle.”
That’s another reality fans don’t recognize. If there is a major vacancy, like Florida or Tennessee, and certain coaches from lower-tier schools no longer are available for the reasons discussed above, you quickly run out of candidates with a proven track record of high-level success on the field, recruiting and running a program.
Stricklin thinks the rate at which universities turn over not only football coaches, but athletic directors and presidents as well, contributes to their being a shortage of all three to fill high-profile vacancies.
Athletic directors have many important responsibilities, none more so than hiring a football coach, and doing so successfully is a lot more difficult than it seems from the outside.
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What better way to ring out a crappy year than to recall a really good one punctuated by this rare gem -- a Cocktail Party meeting in Athens?
1995: "Half a hundred between the Hedges" in Athens
With Jacksonville's rebuilt Jacksonville Municipal Stadium still under construction, this traditional neutral-site showdown was held on the universities' campuses for the first time in over sixty years in 1994 and 1995.After winning at "The Swamp" the previous season, the undefeated 1995 Florida Gators hoped to repeat the feat at Sanford Stadium against a struggling Georgia Bulldogs team led by soon-to-be-fired coach Ray Goff.
Gators starting quarterback Danny Wuerffel threw for 242 yards and five touchdowns before leaving the game in the third quarter. With the Gators leading 38–17 in the fourth quarter, Gators backup quarterback Eric Kresser threw for two more touchdowns, one with 1:21 remaining, to make the final score 52–17. After the game, Gators coach Steve Spurrier stated that he had wanted to be the first opponent to hang "half a hundred" on the Bulldogs in their own stadium because "we heard no one had ever done that before." The Gators' fifty-two points remains the record for most scored against Georgia "between the hedges."
- Thread: Townsend starts foundation
@johnnytownsend1: I am excited to announce the launch of my very own foundation sponsoring the renovation of the Pediatric Oncology Infusion Clinic at Shands Hospital. I am humbled to use my platform to spread hope to kids that need it most. Please explore my online giving page! (link in bio)
Our freshman corner picks off a ball and then fumbles it on the half yard line, giving USC the ball back and first down. Gardener picks off a pass and should easily have a 100-yard pick six, and ends up falling down when someone sneezes on his ankle as he's running by. And, in a first in my 30+ years watching football, two wide-open players fight over a deep pass and tackle each other on the half yard line.
And that only scratches the surface of all the missed opportunities and flubs in that mess we just watched.
- Thread: My take on the Offense vs LSU
After rewatching the game here's what i noticed.
1) our play calling was atrocious. (i know...surprise...surprise). LSU knew exactly what we were going to do before we did it on almost every play.
2) we're asking franks to be a conservative game manager which makes no sense with his skill set.
3) the routes our receivers run are completely nonsensical given what the defense is giving us. We don't take advantage of mismatches and run right into where the coverage is. This is making Franks look a lot worse than he is.
4) our receivers are also poorly coached and don't execute some of the more complex plays very well.
5) we don't get the play call in fast enough and Nuss/Nord are the 2 guys responsible for doing so.
Bottomline: Nussmeier is a fu*king clown And i was blown away at how often he missed easy adjustments or mismatches Dude is just clueless and he should be canned along with Nord and Dixon after the early signing period!
GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The 2017 UF Athletic Hall of Fame class was announced Thursday by the University of Florida F Club and Gator Boosters, Inc.
The 2017 Hall of Fame class is star studded with national champions and All-America performers.
Three members of the back-to-back Men's Basketball National Champions – Corey Brewer, Al Horford and Joakim Noah – join the Hall of Fame. All-American wide receiver Jacquez Green and two-time SEC Player of the Year Matt LaPorta (Baseball) are also among the class.
Rounding out the 2017 class are All-Americans Matt Every (Golf), Alexis Gordon (Tennis) and Benavia Jenkins (Volleyball). Honorary Letterwinner Buddy Alexander (Golf), who led the Gators to two NCAA Championships and was named National Coach of the Year three times, will also be inducted.
The nine-member class will be honored at an induction ceremony, presented by Sasso & Sasso, P.A., on Friday, Sept. 15, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
In addition, Caeleb Dressel and Bridget Sloan will be honored as the 2016 Ben Hill Griffin Award Winners – honoring the top male and female student-athlete for the calendar year.
Each year, the F Club Committee selects members to the Hall of Fame, divided into three different categories: Gator Greats, Distinguished Letterwinners and Honorary Letterwinners.
This year's class includes eight Gator Greats and one Honorary Letterwinner.
A Gator Great is a letterwinners who has brought recognition and prominence to the University and themselves by athletic accomplishments as a student-athlete. An Honorary Letterwinner is a coach or athletic official (after retirement) who were not letterwinners or athletes at the University of Florida, yet have rendered outstanding service to the program through personal time, effort, interest.
Fans interested in attending the ceremony can contact Kyle Rogers in the Gator Boosters, Inc., office at 352-375-4683, option 3.
2017 UF ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
- Buddy Alexander (Men's Golf Coach 1988-2014): 2-Time NCAA Champions (1993 & 2001); 8-Time SEC Champions; 3-Time National Coach of the Year (1993, 2001 & 2004)
- Corey Brewer (Men's Basketball 2004-2007): 2007 First Team All-SEC; 2007 Final Four Most Outstanding Player; Member of the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Champion Basketball Team.
- Matt Every (Men's Golf 2003-2006) 3-Time First Team All-American; 3-Time First Team All-SEC; 2006 Ben Hogan Award for Most Outstanding Collegiate Golfer
- Alexis Gordon (Women's Tennis 2002-2004, 2006) 4-Time First Team All-American; 5-Time First Team All-SEC; 2004 SEC Female Tennis Player of the Year; Member of 2003 NCAA Championship Team
- Jacquez Green (Football 1995-1997): 1997 First Team All-American; 1997 First Team All-SEC; Member of the 1996 NCAA Champion Football Team
- Al Horford (Men's Basketball 2004-2007): 2007 First Team All-SEC; Member of the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Champion Basketball Team.
- Benavia Jenkins (Volleyball 2000-2003): 3-Time All-American; 4-Time First Team All-SEC; 4-Time SEC Champion
- Matt LaPorta (Baseball 2004-2007): 2-Time First Team All-American; 2-Time First Team All-SEC; 2005 & 2007 SEC Player of the Year.
- Joakim Noah (Basketball 2004-2007): 2006 and 2007 First Team All-SEC; 2006 Final Four Most Outstanding Player; Member of the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Champion Basketball Team.
- Thread: Old Gold
To countless people, the clip isn’t necessarily associated with the name Kerwin Bell.
Instead, it’s “that guy who spiked a football into his own groin, then gets pushed by an opponent,” a GIF so hilarious that we recently named it the GOAT sports GIF.
But that poor guy is Kerwin Bell. He’s now the head coach at Division II Valdosta State in Georgia, and he absolutely doesn’t mind talking about the play that’s followed him around for nearly two decades.
In October of 2000, as a quarterback for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, Bell faced his former team, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, with a shot at a playoff spot. In the first half, he saw nine yards of daylight and an end zone in front of him, and the not-so-fleet-of-foot QB found paydirt, a rare rushing touchdown.
Bell got up and saw his ex-teammate, cornerback Juran Bolden, so he decided to celebrate the score by jumping in front of Bolden and spiking the ball between his legs.
“My competitiveness and the way I played the game got the best of me at that moment,” Bell remembered in an interview with For The Win this week. “I was just sort of playing around and talking trash. But it didn’t turn out quite the way I expected it.”
Instead, Bell nailed himself in the groin and Bolden gave him a push, with the QB landing on another opponent. Bell’s only thought at that moment?
“I was upset that I got a flag,” he said. “I actually got hit with the ball and by Juran. They got me for taunting or whatever it was for.”
Back then, there was no YouTube or Twitter to make the clip instantaneously go viral. But there was TSN, which Bell said ran the highlight “night and day for a week.”
“I realized that it was something that was going to last the rest of my life,” he said.
As the years went by, he would get phone calls while in his native Florida when ESPN ran its list of the worst celebrations of all time.
But that certainly hasn’t fazed Bell, especially after the career he’s had.
Bell grew up on a 200-acre tobacco farm in Mayo, a “one red-light town” in Florida. When he left Mayo-Lafayette High School without a football scholarship, he walked-on to the University of Florida’s team and reported he was the eighth-string quarterback in 1983. A year later, thanks to teammates’ injuries and other factors, he was the starter, and in 1987, he finished his collegiate career with 7,585 yards passing and 56 touchdowns with some rumbles about Heisman candidacy along the way. At the time, he was the all-time leading passer in Gators history.
When the Dolphins took him 180th overall in the 7th round of the 1988 NFL Draft, he thought he’d be “the next Dan Marino.” It was quite the opposite — Bell became a journeyman, joining other NFL teams before he was cut. Eventually, he’d play in the World League and the CFL before he’d join the Indianapolis Colts in 1996. It was then that he’d get to live out his NFL dream for one game before heading back to the CFL for the eventual Groin Shot Seen ‘Round the World.
His chance in the NFL came when starter Jim Harbaugh went down with an injury in a December contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. Bell stepped in for his only NFL game and went 5-for-5 with a touchdown pass, the football equivalent of “Moonlight” Graham. That means he had a perfect quarterback ranking of 158.3, putting him at the top of the record books (if you’re discounting that he’s only thrown five passes in total).
“I always tell people you can always make your life look good,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of failures, but if you say it the right way, it seems pretty good. I was a four-year starter in college, in Hall of Fame there. I was the all-time leading passer there. I’m the all-time leader in quarterback rating and I’m in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Ah, yes. How could we forget? While touring the Hall in 1996 when the Colts visited, Bell’s teammates spotted his helmet and photo on a wall as part of an exhibit on “inventions of the game.” Because Bell was the first person to wear a helmet cam during a World League game, he landed in Canton.
His coaching career had a more conventional path: While rehabbing a knee injury in 1990, he was a graduate assistant for Steve Spurrier during the Ol’ Ball Coach’s first year at Florida, eventually working his way up to coach at Jacksonville University before joining the Blazers in 2016.
That clip of his failed celebration, however, isn’t something he hides from as a coach.
“When I’m recruiting guys, sometimes I’ll bring that up,” he said. “I’ll say, ‘Hey check me out.’ They don’t know who you are, they don’t know you played ball and sometimes it makes a connection for those guys. You can show them the lighter side of you and show some of your faults as a person and as a player. They’ll text me and let me know they enjoyed it. I use it to break the ice.”
He’s not totally against excessive touchdown celebrations, either. On the 15th day of spring practice, he tells the referees to stuff their yellow hankies away and informs his players that he wants to see their best celebrations of a score. And, yes, of course he brings up his viral moment that’s still being mentioned today.
“I think in life, you make mistakes,” he said. “All those things in life are a part of you. You own up to it. It wasn’t a very intelligent play.”
“I always tell kids: It’s not always the smartest guy or the best looking guy,” he added later. “It’s about the guy who’s willing to fail and not be afraid to fail.”
- Thread: ONE Day Until Kickoff
- Thread: Corral on IG live last night
Someone shot it to me just a few minutes ago and and he had some interesting things to say about our recruiting class.
He said we have 2 four star OL coming (Barnes and Gouraige most likely)
1 four star receiver (Cope)
And 2 5 star DB's (no clue who these could be)
He also said he's bringing Jalen Hall with him to the Michigan game and that Hall doesn't like LA.
Hope he's right on those predictions
This is cool. What a great Gator legend!
Louisiana legislature honors Danny Wuerffel for charitable work in state
Baton Rouge honoring a Gator? Thanks to Danny Wuerffel and his service in New Orleans, there’s something that Florida and LSU fans can agree on.
The Louisiana Senate passed a resolution Wednesday night honoring Wuerffel, the former Gators quarterback, for his charitable efforts in the state.
Louisiana Senate Resolution 210, introduced by John Milkovich (D-Shreveport), commends Wuerffel for his “immeasurable service in supporting spiritual and community development.”
Wuerffel began working with Desire Street Ministries, based in New Orleans, around the close of his NFL career with the Saints. He’s continued his efforts with the organization, which has worked to rebuild the communities of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In August 2016, the organization opened the Desire Community Square in the city’s Ninth Ward, the region most devastated by the hurricane.
Wuerffel’s latest honor comes more than 20 years after his Heisman Trophy in Florida’s national title season of 1996.
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