Ron Zook seriously now works at a small local bank



What a weird week for former leaders of the Illinois Fighting Illini program. Ron Turner had to apologize for his FIU players getting naked in public. And now the Zooker.

Ron Zook got a $2.6 million dollar buyout from the University of Illinois. Zook also made a lot of money when he coached the Illini. He made even more money than that when he coached a much higher profile program in the Florida Gators. The Zooker has had many good paying coaching gigs in his life. He was once even Defensive Coordinator for the New Orleans Saints!

Yet, here he is, working in a bank. Not a glamorous high-powered Wall Street investment bank a short walk from the New York Stock Exchange.

No, no, no. Ron Zook is a middle manager at a small little local bank in Ocala, Florida. Yes, he’s working in some town you’ve never heard of, in a boring, mundane local branch, just like the pedestrian bank on the corner in your town. Well, he is a shareholder there too.

Does this make any sense at all? Is the Zookster just one of those people that has to keep working all the time? You know, the type of person that works just for the sake of working and keeping busy. I bet Ron Zook is great at recruiting clients to sign up for free checking! He’s just probably terrible at coaching them in how to save and earn interest!

Look at the website for Gateway Bank in Ocala, Florida. Scroll down, way down to the right hand side. You’ll see him right there.

Ron Zook
Business Development Officer
Email Ron


Related: why Zook was hired at Florida and how it relates to Urban Meyer and the Aaron Hernandez saga

He’s the nicest person in the world. Mr. Zook is a really nice guy, but I’m not crazy about the idea of having Ron Zook do anything with my money. For a host of reasons.

1.) With all that money he made with the Gators, Illini, Saints etc. why isn’t he just living fat off the compounding interest of his investments? Sure, he has to put his daughters through college, but can’t he find some secure U.S. Treasuries, or safe yet high dividend securities to live off of? I can show Ron Zook some blue chip stocks or bond issues that conservative investors would like. I’ll show you important charts in Investors Business Daily or the Wall Street Journal you might like.

2.) I wouldn’t trust Ron Zook with numbers. He always had the weird thing about going for two, when he should have just kicked the extra point. And his bizarre decisions about when to kick a field goal or go for it on fourth down had inverted logic. It cost the Illini two games versus Ohio State and one versus Indiana.

3.) I’m not confident in the idea of Ron Zook doing asset management. Sure he can obtain high valued assets, but he doesn’t optimize their performance. The Illini had a first and second round draft pick in both the 2012 and 2011 NFL Draft. And more additional picks in both those drafts. However, those Illinois teams went 14-12! Ron Zook had a very poor record at Florida; ESPECIALLY so by Gators standards. Yet, 20/22 starters on Urban Meyer’s first national title team were recruited by Zook.

h/t Charles Olson

ron zook

Related: Florida Gators current Coach Will Muschamp fires back at Ohio State for turning them in regarding violations

What makes this story so odd is that Ron Zook has a sweet, cushy television gig too.

Granted not a lot of homes have CBS College Sports; and I’m sure it doesn’t pay that much due to its lack of overall reach. However, it’s gotta pay decent, right? Well, Zook is a shareholder in that Gateway bank, so he must be seeing some decent paper off that. So then why work there too? Unless he just loves dealing with people that much?

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. The correspondent/analyst for 95.7 The Fan, also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now.  President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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  1. Allison says:

    Please get your facts straight – Zook only has two daughters.

  2. Remember when he took over the Gators…..his first priority was ” waterproof phone, so he could talk in the shower”… For real!

    No wonder Spurrier ran him off back in the day!

  3. Aggie Edwards says:

    For heaven’s sake, leave the poor man alone! He’s working an honest job for reasons of his own, so it’s nobody’s business but his. We can’t all be snarky sports writers, you know.

  4. Daniel S. says:

    I just have one word for you Mr. Banks. You good sir are an “assclown!”

    Leave the man be and don’t knock ’em when he’s down, or is he? He might have taken that job to get out of the lime light and just be normal for a change.

  5. Don Canter says:

    What a lousy article by a lousy writer. Ron Zook is one of the best recruiters that college football has ever seen so I’m sure he is a great recruiter for the bank. I consider Ron a friend and I think you would be better served to issue an apology to him and anyone who suffered through the mistake of reading your article.

  6. Dave Johnson III says:

    ouch, you are a bitter mean spirited person with a complex.

  7. Jon Bradley says:

    Amazing how the Bleacher Report allows mediocre writers try to make a story out of a non-story.

    Living in Ocala (nice community) and working at a bank (so he can keep an eye on his millions- sounds like a dam good like to me.

    PaulMBanks, you should apologize to Zook, maybe he will give you a teller’s job, your future certainly is not in sportswriting.

  8. John Crawford says:

    Ron Zook is still a public figure who has lots of money from state sponsored universities. He is still subject to public discussion so the confusion or anger that people have towards this column are strange to me. This guy was a bad football coach plain and simple and the fact that he is working at a bank speaks volumes. Good recruiter? I wont deny that talented athletes went to Florida and Illinois when he was the head coach but do not give him all that credit. Recruiting at Florida might be one of the easiest things to do and the pipeline from D.C. were all Mike Locksly and had nothing to do with Zook. The guy was good at looking like he was a nice friendly person but i can tell you from people that played for him that he was a genuine jerk. not a good guy. not a good coach. overrated recruiter. likely a terrible banker. good luck to him though.

  9. Zook really did a fine job at Illinois. Back to back winning seasons and back to back bowl game wins. However, he could recruit so much better than he coached. Illinois went for 7-6 to 2-10 last year.

  10. Don Freeman says:

    You obviously know nothing about banking and still feel you can comment on it and try to somehow degrade Coach Zook. The business development officer of a bank doesn’t do asset management at all -their job is to develop business relationships for the bank. Large banks are filled with former athletes in these jobs for the obvious public relationship benefit. Congrats to this bank for having Coach Zook in this role. Your painting this picture of the coach sitting in a bank branch doing asset management when he is meeting business leaders at luncheons and cocktail parties bringing in business accounts for the institution. You therefore should feel like a fool writing this article.

  11. He owns part of the bank ass clowns. I live in ocala, I’ve seen his lake house and boat. The zookeeper is doing just fine and we love having him here.

  12. Assclowns!!!!!

  13. paulmbanks says:

    never said he was doing bad financially. I’ve seen his $9.2 million home in Champaign, IL when he lived there. and believe me that’s an astronomical property value for Champaign County, so I know he’s living quite well. My question is why bother do the job when he obviously doesn’t need the money

  14. You don’t have to need money to make more money. He likely doesn’t work the job on a 9-5 basis. I’d imagine hes a figure head for the bank that he is a shareholder of. My comment was directed at the people/person who wrote this article. It insinuates that the zooker NEEDS this job……… He also is an ambassador for the Jason Foundation who recently held a golf tournament in Ocala. Yardbarker should write an article on how Zook went from being a middle manager at a small bank in Ocala, FL to being the ambassador for a small charity……what a bum… Gator Nation and Ocala love us some Ron Zook. He is a great man and coach. He also witnessed my first greened shot in many years at the par 3 14th. He gets credit for that swing. Go Gators and long live the zooker or zookeeper!

  15. zook lover says:

    He is the happiest and most relaxed he has been in years. Gets to wake up on a beautiful lake, get some skiing in before going to work with a close group of friends and come home to his sweet wife each night. Why wouldn’t he take that gig?! Ocala is proud to have him and Gateway Bank gets a sweet deal with the all the contacts he has. He will get a good laugh out of this article as he sips his Natty Light watching the sunset this evening.

  16. paulmbanks says:

    Yes, Natty Light! He had a bunch of Illini media at his $925,000 million mansion a couple summers ago and that’s what he was drinking. I still would like to invest his money though.

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