Miller to join Gators

Published: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 10, 2003 at 10:45 p.m.
Bill Miller knows the critics likely will be quick to point out to his last days at Miami and Michigan State, troubling times, for sure.
But he's OK with that.
"You know how it is: You're as good as your last performance," he said. "But in the business I've chosen, most people in it will judge you on your career and not your last performance, even if maybe the fans and the media don't see it that way.
"I think people around the football world know what I'm all about and what kind of person I am and what kind of coach I am. I stand on that."
Florida coach Ron Zook will be the first to point out Miller has a great deal to stand on: Former defensive coordinator at Miami and Michigan and 25 years in the college coaching profession.
On Friday, Zook added Miller and all that experience to his coaching staff, naming Miller the Gators' new linebacker coach to replace the departed Jerry Odom. Miller was the defensive coordinator at MSU from 1999 to 2002 and had been the defensive coordinator at UM from 1995 to 1998.
"He has coached a lot of football and he brings a wealth of knowledge to the defensive side of the ball," Zook said. "He has been around some great programs and some great players and has solid recruiting relationships in the state of Florida."
Miller spent the last four seasons as the defensive coordinator at Michigan State. He enjoyed success at MSU his first three seasons, but things got ugly in East Lansing this season when head coach Bobby Williams was fired during the season amid a great deal of controversy and turmoil.
Miller was let go at the end of the season.
"The last couple of months have been as hard as anything I've been a part of," Miller, 45, said. "It's been a very difficult time and very difficult on our family."
Several weeks ago, Miller contacted Zook about the defensive coordinator's job at Florida, which became vacant when John Thompson accepted the head coaching position at East Carolina. Zook went a different direction, hiring South Carolina defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. But Zook kept Miller in mind and when it came time to replace Odom, who left with Thompson. Miller emerged as the leading candidate.
"When John Thompson left and took Jerry Odom with him, I knew there would be a couple of openings there," Miller said. "Everybody knows what the University of Florida is all about. And having known Ron Zook and his history, this was something I was very interested in and I feel fortunate to get this opportunity.
"It was kind of a wham-bam deal. I worked at Oklahoma State a long time (as defensive coordinator from 1989 to 1994) and (UF strength and conditioning coordinator) Rob Glass and I got to know each other there and he's a great friend of mine. Rob initiated the contact and Ron and I had known each other in passing through recruiting."
Miller will coach the linebackers at Florida. He said he doesn't know what role he'll play yet in special teams. Odom had been the special teams coordinator.
"We've talked a little bit about it," Miller said. "It all comes up so fast you don't get a lot of things talked through. My main interest was going to the University of Florida."
He said he's excited about the opportunity to work under Zook and Strong.
"Ron is a great defensive coach and I look forward to learning from him," Miller said. "Charlie Strong is a great hire and great defensive coach. I can't wait to work with him and draw from his knowledge."
Miller is expected to arrive in Gainesville today and participate in the recruiting visit weekend. He's recruited the state of Florida the past 17 years, specializing in the Miami area. He said he hasn't been assigned a specific recruiting area yet.
As the defensive coordinator at MSU, his 2000 defense led the Big Ten in total defense, pass defense and pass efficiency defense.
When he was the defensive coordinator at Miami, he helped the Hurricanes win back-to-back Big East championships (1995-96). He was fired by UM coach Butch Davis at the end of the 1998 season after UM closed with a 66-13 loss at Syracuse and a 49-45 victory over UCLA.
"I was fired after going 9-3," he said. "We didn't play very well at the end of the year, but it was a surprise. Sometimes you're not prepared for that. That kind of came out of left field a little bit. But it's immaterial right now."
You can reach Robbie Andreu by e-mail at andreur@gvillesun.com or by calling (352) 374-5022.

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