TAMPA – If Thursday’s interview session is any indication of things to come, it’s going to be a tearful farewell game for Urban Meyer and the Gators in the Outback Bowl on Saturday.
Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio had tears in his eyes Thursday when he started talking about his senior offensive linemen after practice.
“You get close to these kids and it’s hard to say goodbye to them,” Addazio said. “They’re like family to you.”
At the end of Thursday’s practice, the Gators held their annual senior tackle, where the seniors address the team and Meyer and each position coach talks about each senior. It’s always an emotional event, but even more so this time because Meyer, Addazio and most of these other UF coaches will be coaching in their final game for Florida on Saturday.
“It was pretty emotional speaking about the seniors, what they’ve meant to you here,” Addazio said. “When you go through that, it’s a pretty emotional thing. You kind of travel through the years. You think about all the things we’ve been through and when they came here as kids and are now leaving four and five years later. It always makes for a tough week every year.”
After Saturday’s game, Addazio will head to Philadelphia, where he will take over as Temple’s new head coach.
Addazio politely declined to answer questions his new job Thursday out of respect for the UF seniors and Meyer.
“I just want to talk about the Gators right now, the Gators and my guys,” he said. “I know you can appreciate that. You come off the field with these kids like we did today … that’s all I really want to talk about. I’ve got a short bit of time left now and that’s my focus.
“We talk about togetherness in our (offensive line) room. I said goodbye, they said goodbye today. They’ve had an unbelievable career here. I’m going to miss them and Gator Nation is going to miss them. That whole thing out there was pretty impactful.”
Addazio also welled up when he was asked about the man who brought him to Florida back in 2005 – Urban Meyer. Addazio and Meyer first coached together back in 2000 when they were assistants at Notre Dame.
“We go so far back. It hard for me to capsulize that for me in a few words. It would never do it justice,” Addazio said. “I just love him. We’ve been through a lot together. He’s a great football coach and a great human being. He’s done a lot for my family and this football program. He’s brought some unbelievable moments to Gator Nation. He makes coming to work every day great.
“I’m just going to reflect on that a little bit. That’s powerful stuff. He brought me here. Life is about relationships, being around people you want to be around. I couldn’t be around anyone better.”
It’s going to be an emotional farewell day for the Gators on Saturday, that’s for sure.