Talkin' College Football: It's time for the Illini to let Zook go
by, 09-29-2009 at 07:47 AM (1644 Views)
I know what some of you are already thinking: "Jesus, there she goes again".
After this past weekend, I felt compelled to expound on the reasons why I feel that the Illini need to seriously consider replacing Ron Zook, if they're intent on building their football program up to be a contender in the Big Ten.
Trust me, I know what I'm talking about when I say the things I do about the Zooker - I'm not talking trash, only the facts. As a Florida fan, we put up with three mediocre seasons under a coach who was a poor fit for the Gator football program to begin with. As things turned out, those who had bad premonitions right off the bat were right all along - even though Zook's recruiting skills were vaunted by many, he was unable to develop that talent to its fullest potential. Throw in a lack of emphasis on off-season conditioning, lack of effective leadership from the coaching staff, poor direction, poor gameday strategy and making effective use of alloted time, micromanagement of his assistants and poor problem-solving, refusal to take accountability for what went wrong, and it was a blueprint for failure. What Steve Spurrier built from 1990-2001 was beginning to disintegrate, and on 10/25/04 something was finally done about it - luckily for us one of the best decisions our AD could make in hiring Urban Meyer as a replacement was sweet redemption as well as a wise choice and the right fit for our program.
Some Zook-apologist Florida fans and many rivals feel that the notorious website FireRonZook.com was responsible for the demise of the Zooker - that was far from the truth; Zook brought things all on himself. You know what? I LOVED that site; it was by no means just a glorified rant. Mr. Walsh told it like it was, gave an objective analysis of every game, and actually gave some credence to what he wrote every week. Walsh actually gave Zook the benefit of a doubt in the beginning, but like many of us he saw the bad moon slowly rising as the months went on.
Zook was given a second chance to prove the pundits wrong at Illinois; with the exception of the 2007 season which now appears to be more-or-less a fluke he only showed a repeat of the same mistakes he made at Florida. Add to that one of his longtime former assistants (Mike Locksley) burning his bridges in his first head-coaching job out at New Mexico, and it further accentuates the negative where Zook is concerned.
I happened to watch the Illinois-Ohio State which was scheduled prior to Florida-Kentucky, and what I saw reminded me of the UF-Mississippi State game back in October 2004 which turned out to be the final nail in the coffin for Zook with the Gators. Lack of initiative, numerous errors, poor clock management, ineffective adjustments made (if any) - I saw a loss coming early on in that one.
Many Illini fans were so quick on the trigger to speak ill of Gator Nation for having repudiated Zook, but as things have turned out, it seems that we weren't just talking a lot of smack when we attempted to tell them about his experience with Florida football.
If Illinois AD Ron Guenther wants a chance to redeem himself, he ought to give considerable thought to what his Florida counterpart Jeremy Foley decided was necessary to be done back in October of 2004 - that is, if Guenther seriously cares about the success of Illini football.0 BEAR DOWN!, 0 High Fives, 0 Like, 0 Dislikes, 0 Fap, 0 Facepalm