Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Zook's recruiting

It's no secret that Mergz and I "met" online (we've actually never met) at the message board which has evolved into Zook Free Zone (IMO, one of the best Gator forums out there). A lot of people might be wondering why we just don't let it go already with Zook. The fact is that the Ron Zook hiring never made any sense and it was an unequivocal disaster for a team that was establishing a new tradition of winning at a high level. What bothered a lot of us vocal Zook detractors was the myth that was built up about Zook. Some elements to the myth are:

1. Spurrier left the cupboard bare
2. Zook works harder than most coaches
3. Zook is a master recruiter
4. Zook didn't have enough time
5. Zook left the cupboard full
6. Urban Meyer is winning thanks to Zook

As you can see the myth extends into the present day and that's why I wanted to bring your attention to this column by Marty Cohen, the publisher of It's worth reading the whole thing but I'll excerpt some of the juicier parts here:

Was Zook an Ace Recruiter?

...Zook's persona is that of the good guy who works hard and is a terrific recruiter. The first part doesn't matter, the second part should be a given and the third part is perhaps more myth than fact...

This is a team top-heavy with contributing seniors, but that's the way it is supposed to be – wasn't Steve Spurrier's first SEC championship team in '91 loaded with fifth-year seniors from Galen Hall's superb 1987 signing class? Of course, that's the way college football works.

But I have maintained all along that Zook's recruiting has been a case of style over substance, a caste-system of five-star upper class guys and a bunch of low-level guys who rarely panned out, with no middle class. It is that middle class which gives a program consistency and reliability, the five-year guys who provide depth as youngsters and become valuable contributors as juniors and seniors.

Frankly, there hasn't been nearly enough of those guys in Zook's recruitment. Again, it's why Florida's depth situation is so dire, why this is a club loaded with seniors, and freshmen (true and redshirt, Meyer's guys), with virtually no junior and sophomore classes. It's why there is no upper-class depth at quarterback, offensive line, linebacker and in the secondary, and why the two-year search still continues for a decent, reliable running back.

Let's take a look at Zook's three recruiting classes, and you decide about his recruiting wizardry. Granted, the first year in 2002 was a hastily-assembled bunch, having less than a month to put a class together when Spurrier abruptly left. In hindsight, it turned out to be a pretty decent group...

There were only six washouts who never did anything at UF and most were prime contributors, with a few stars (Baker, who was technically a Spurrier recruit, Crowder, Fason and McDonald) and a lot of solid contributors (Cornelius, Crum, Dickey, Hand, Harris, Holmes, Lewis, T. McCollum and Wynn).

The 2003 class was supposed to Zook's shining achievement as a recruiter, a Top 2 or 3 class that he hung his hat on forever. There is no doubt this class has some stars, but there were simply too many guys who contributed little to nothing, including the ill-fated junior college venture, essentially wasting a half-dozen scholarships (save one year from offensive tackle Tavares Washington)...

Again, this was the quintessential no middle-class group, with a lot of star power (Caldwell, Cohen, Everett, Jackson, Leak, Moss, M. Thomas, Webb and Wilbur), way too many washouts (Dingle, Griffin, Guerrero, M. Hill, Holcombe, Kenner, Lingard, Midgett, Morant, Riley, J. Thomas and Thornton) and only a handful of middle-ground guys (R. Hill, McMillan, Medder, Rissler and I guess, Washington). If you're truly going to judge a recruiting class three or four years down the road, then personally, this one gets downgraded from its lofty perch – half the class did absolutely nothing at UF.

Just completing year number three, Zook's final UF recruiting class in 2004 hasn't packed much of a punch. This is where the depth is supposed to come from, a large number of players either starting or pushing for starting jobs. While it's too early to cast aside some players who are still at UF, there have been few potential stars produced and again, way too many players no longer with the program...

Nearly half this class was gone by year three and it was not all a result of a coaching change – Brown, Daniel, Grace, Guthrie, Mangold, McIntosh, McPhearson, Nicholas and of course, Mincey and Thompson who were junior college signees. That's way too much attrition. There are some definite stars – Siler and Miller – some main contributors who've earned starting spots – Casey, Joiner, Tartt and Trautwein – some guys with big upsides – Harvey, Ingram – and five others who've played a role the last two years (Estopinan, Jackson, Manson, Rutledge and Watkins).

There it is, you guys decide about Zook's recruiting. Personally, I wouldn't say it was all that great. It was solid, and did produce a number of stars in one class. But once again, there is a reason why Meyer has been decrying the lack of depth at just about every position, why there is no consistent big-time veteran running back on campus and why so many freshmen (probably a dozen by the time the medical redshirts are used) had to play this year.


sorryGator said...

Well unfortunately your arguments don't hold up... being as Florida is now going to the national championship starting ALL BUT ONE of Zook's recruits. But don't take my word for it, ask Urban Meyer who has outwardly spoken about how the program was left in great shape and the fact that the Gators are going to a national title "is a credit to the previous staff." Sorry guy, your blog is bogus. And on signing day, you will wish you were Illinois...because in case you haven't noticed, Zook's recruiting is pulling all the top talent. Legally.

Henry Gomez said...

Read the article and tell me where it's wrong. Meanwhile, enjoy the kool aid.


JJ Gator said...

First of all, props for a great blog site, Henry!

As for you, "sorryGator", your screen name suits you perfectly, jackass. As far as I'm concerned apologetic types are spineless wusses. And you make it plainly obvious that you are a Zook apologist.

Sorryass, pull your head out of your posterior, stick your finger down your throat to puke up your kool-aid, and try to see the forests for the trees if you even possess an OUNCE of a brain. Don't give me this sob-story "Zook put all his heart into UF football" crap; Zook is a snake-oil salesman and a charlatan. Obviously Aurellois Benn was bamboozled by Zook and is too blind to see it; committing to one of the shittiest teams in college football with an idiot for a coach who can't find his way out of a paper sack. "Illinoise"'s 2-10 record this season is testament of that.

If Zook was such a "master recruiter" as you apologists preach on your soapboxes, then WHY was Urban Meyer forced to make adjustments on the roster to accomodate for gaps as certain positions in 2005? Meyer is not only a good coach, he's a helluva recruiter and will sweep moRon Zook under the rug. Trust me.

And if you're that much of a Zookite, why don't you switch your loyalty to Illinois?

The Gators made it to the BCS Championship game because URBAN MEYER has what it takes to bring iut the best in a player's talent and coach them to capacity - all your golden boy Zook could do was drop the F bomb at a frat house.

And another thing - Marty Cohen was right-on with his article. Which is more than I can say for those assholes at Gator Country who put their own sugarcoated spin on the facts and make their subscribers buy into their drivel.

keystroke-ga said...

"Read the article and tell me where it's wrong"

9 recruits with "star power" and that's not the result of being a great recruiter? Sounds to me like this is someone who would say that Jesus didn't walk fast enough on the water. Amazing everyone by getting the sixth-best recruiting class in the nation to a losing program, and that's not great recruiting? This article's a washout. Zook helped get the players for the '96 title and he helped with the '06 title for Miami. Urban Meyer's players are the very same ones Zook recruited. Meyer may be a good recruiter-- we'll know in a few years. Meanwhile it must be said that Zook is one, too. If Meyer didn't want to give credit where credit was due, he could have kept his mouth shut.

Is it untrue that all but one starter of the championship team last year was a Zook recruit?

Go Illini!
Go Gators!
Everyone stop hating.

Henry Gomez said...

Zook blows. Who rated Zook's class at Illinois 6th?

Scout says 19.

Rivals says 17.

And how long will he be able to recruit the kind of players he has while going winless in the Big 10?

You say "Urban Meyer's players are the very same ones Zook recruited."

Which recruits had both Illinois and Florida on their short list. I'm calling bullshit on that.

And when you say Meyer "may be" a good recruiter what is your criteria? If you go by the criteria that you use to judge Zook (recruiting rankings) then you have to give Meyer the nod considering he recruited the number 1 class in the country according to both services, something Zook never did at Florida.

Please step away from the Kool Aid.

jj gator said...

NOW that Meyer proved that he can win with his own recruits and can find the right talent for Florida, maybe now the Zook apologists should just zip it and stop feeling sorry for that loser.

Zook apologists can crow all rhey want about the 2006 win in saying "Meyer won with Zook's recruits", but the point is that Zook couldn't even find a way to win with his own. He's a waster of talent; he proved that at Florida nad is repeating the same with "Illinoise".

Zook can boast all he wants about the four-and-five star talent he brought to Florida, but he didn't address our depth chart or filling particular needs - that's why he's far from being a master at the art of recruiting. Meyer brings in top talent, but he also addresses positional needs and the flux of players in and out of the program in recruiting his classes - MEYER is the "master recruiter", NOT Zook!

Class rankings and the Scout/Rivals "star" system may have some bearing on a recruit's potential, but not all. it's one thing to come to a program with a strong skillset, but how will that player "mesh" into a program, and how will that coach develop histalent to its fullest potential? That's where Zook failed and Meyer excels.

Testament to Meyer's better recruiting are the championships we've won in four years and a Heisman winner in Tim Tebow. Zook couldn't pull that off; he damn near drove Florida football into the toilet. Hell, that idiot couldn't win a bowl game to save his life; so frigging what if Illinoise went to the Rose Bowl in his third year - USC fought on and handed him his ass.

Zook IMO is not a Gator - especially after he was badmouthing a school that gave him the opportunity of a lifetime and paid him millions to try and prove himself. I'll continue to hate Zook; he's a loser and an ungrateful piece of shit.