Foley doing his homework for this search


Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 at 11:44 p.m.
he following: 1. He has finalized a deal with Urban Meyer.
2. He has flown to Louisville to interview Bobby Petrino.
3. He has interviewed Butch Davis in Gainesville just hours after Davis's Cleveland team gave up 58 points.
4. He has hired Steve Spurrier.
5. He has hired Bobby Stoops.
6. He has solved the BCS problem for Auburn.
Because none of the above has turned out to be true, there is a perception in the Gator Nation that Florida is doing little to fill its vacant head coaching job. That perception has been fed by the fact that almost no real news has come out of the UF job search.
And it hasn't helped that Steve Spurrier is out as a candidate and Urban Meyer's dream job has suddenly opened up.
In reality, Foley has been busy over the last month checking into the availability of coaches and talking to their peers about them. He has gone on-line to listen to their news conferences to see how they interact with the media.
He is doing his homework as the fires burn all around.
Eventually, Florida will have a new football coach and it might be a good idea to wait until it happens before Foley's efforts are judged.
But that's not the way it is in the wild world of sports today where the coach has to be hired yesterday and win a national championship before the season has started, where fans masquerade as sources, where journalists and pseudo-journalists hope that the latest thing thrown against the proverbial wall sticks like fly paper.
Here's the deal - Foley has a list of candidates who meet the criteria he and UF president Bernie Machen have established for the next coach. One of those requirements is the willingness to move to Gainesville, something not everyone has taken into consideration before anointing the next head coach.
One of those candidates was Butch Davis, probably the only NFL guy on the list. There was an interest on Florida's part. There was an interest on Davis's part. That interest waned recently, moving Davis's name to the back page of the list. Whether it has been revived now that Davis is unemployed is doubtful because the situation at Cleveland left him with a thick wallet and a psyche that needs a break.
That leaves those of you who had jumped onto the Butch bandwagon in a new state of panic. No Spurrier, no Meyer, no Davis, oh my, and recruits drifting further and further away as the days tick off the calendar.
Let's wait and see on Meyer. Yes, Notre Dame would seem like the front-runner for his services. But if it truly is where he wants to be, isn't it better this way? And if he does somehow end up at Florida, wouldn't it be a comfort to know that Meyer chose Florida over the Irish?
So calm down everybody. It's not like Foley and Machen are trying to hire a coach to East Carolina. This is Florida. The list is long, 10-to-12 coaches who have had their backgrounds checked and their game tapes viewed.
One of them will end up in Gainesville. He will be critiqued and questioned, prodded and pointed at before he ever coaches a practice, let alone a game.
He will be compared to Spurrier past and Spurrier present. He will be compared to Ron Zook in February. He will be compared to all of the other coaches who Florida fans believed would have been better choices.
Until, of course, he does the one thing that this Gator Nation needs so badly right now.
Win.
Win big.
Wouldn't it be unthinkable to wait until a season starts to unfold with a new coach to decide whether he makes sense? Or at least wait until he is hired?
Instead, everyone has an opinion and a source close to the situation who does not want to be identified because he fears retribution from his "Dungeons and Dragons" gang.
My sources tell me this - Florida will have a coach for the 2005 season. That much is a done deal.
You can reach sports columnist Pat Dooley by e-mail at dooleyp@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5053. You can hear The Pat Dooley Hour each weekday from 11 a.m. to noon on The Star 99.5-FM.

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