Ron Zook heading off on Patriotic Voyage

ron zook

Zooker to Visit Troops in Germany and Southwest Asia,  Coaches to visit eight countries in nine days

Illinois Football Coach Ron Zook will join four other head coaches in visiting U.S. troops in Germany and Southwest Asia later this month. Zook will be joined by Army coach Rich Ellerson, Oregon’s Chip Kelly, Harvard’s Tim Murphy and Texas Tech’s Tommy Tuberville on an eight-stop, nine-day tour.

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Ron Zook Explains It All

By Paul Schmidt

Most of the time, after a tough loss, I take a lot of what coaches say for granted.  Typically you get a bunch of coach-speak anyway, cliches abounding, and most of it is useless quote fodder.

Not Ron Zook tonight.

He made a bunch of interesting comments in the presser, and once again gave very little insight into what is actually happening with an Illinois team that is underacheiving more than the 2000 Illini post-MicronPC Bowl.

Here are some of Zook’s thoughts, with what was going through my head as he said them.

His overall thoughts of the game:
“There’s not an awful lot that I can say, but again we didn’t play like I thought we were capable of. Heading into halftime, I thought we were making a game of it, We should have got some points there on the last series of the first half, but we get down there and shoot ourselves in the foot again. But we were able to get the ball back on the first series of the second half there, recovering a fumble, and we just didn’t get back on track offensively. A little bit of that had to do with what they were doing and their defense, but still, for us to win games and for us to be successful, we’re gonna have to play.”

(PS) Look, Ron, at some point you have to stop saying that the team didn’t play like you thought they were capable of, because at some point you have to realize that your expectations were too high.  Also, WHY didn’t you get back on track offensively??  Why is this team so fragile, that one bad play on one series derailed this team for the rest of the game?

Relating this season’s struggles to something the team can understand:
“It’s like I told them, and they don’t want to hear this and I don’t want to say it, but there’s still a lot of football to be played.  We lost two games in the Big Ten two years ago the year we went to the Rose Bowl, but we got a monumental task ahead of us. It starts next week, so we got to get back to work and get it figured out.”

(PS) Wait…we’re comparing this season to the Rose Bowl season?  Really?  It should be mentioned that though that team had two losses in 2007 in the Big Ten, they weren’t losses to the two top teams in the conference.  There’s no conceivable tiebreaker the Illini could win to win the Big Ten this year.  There just isn’t.

On being in field goal range and then having Juice Williams get sacked and take the intentional grounding penalty:
“That’s the frustrating thing. It’s like I told them at half time, Guys, we took the ball from inside our own five yard line and drove down there.  We’re in position to get some points, and then we go and do the same thing we did last week. We gotta get it fixed, there’s just no question. I think if it was just one person, you could fix it.  Or if it was two people.  But it’s a number of things and that’s our job as coaches to get it fixed.”

(PS)Coach…seriously…if it’s a number of things that are wrong, how can you have the expectation that your team should be playing better??? You’re contradicting everything that you’re saying.

On the conservative play-calling to start the second half, despite the fact that the two-minute, hurry up offense was working so well:
“Well, at that point in time of the game, we weren’t in a two minute mode.  The last series of the last drive of the first half, we were in a more two minute mode, let’s move the ball.  I think that first play, everyone was expecting a run and we came out and ran a play-action pass for a nice gain, and we just kind of got going. In the second half, after the fumble, it’s like I said over the headphones, there’s a lot of game to be played.  Let’s mix it up and run the football and get back into our game plan.”

(PS) Coach, the running game was NOT working. Daniel Dufresne was having the most success in the ground game and was averaging just a shade over three yards per carry in the first half. The only time you moved the ball consistently in the first half was when you went in the hurry-up.  WHY NOT STAY WITH IT?  Why the insistance upon a ball-control offense?  Your “mix it up, run the football” offense ran SIX PLAYS in the third quarter and netted eight total yards.  Looks like it worked really well.

On the demeanor in the locker room:
“When I walked out of there, they were saying all of the right things. They’re good kids, and like I said, there could be some splintering.  You know, you guys (the reporters, I presume) are going to try to splinter them. There’s gonna be a lot of things.  I told those kids you’re finding out all about life now. Because now you’re down, you’re getting beat up, people are attacking you, and you’re going to find out what kind of person you are. Some of you MAY fall by the wayside. I don’t think they will, but they could. This is the ideal time for those kinds of things to happen. I really believe it’ll be a test of the kind of team and the type of people that we really are.”

(PS) Wow.  So now, the reporters are trying to splinter the locker room?  I think, for the most part, our questions of disbelief are directed at the coaching staff as opposed to anyone else.  At the same time, I could see why you’re saying that to the kids — it certainly would keep them spewing the company line that there’s a lot of time left. At the same time, the one thing that you did say, Coach, that has a ring of truth to it is that some players may fall by the wayside.  I suppose that that is probably true.

However…after being beaten down in the manner that they have the last two weeks, is now REALLY the time to remind them of that?  That they’re just a hair’s breadth from being left behind by the team?  That’s cold, Coach, VERY cold. At least you said that you didn’t think they would, that you thought they were stronger than that.

But, if it really was the case that you think they were stronger than that, why would you even bring it up?

Ron Zook Attacked by Florida Gator Thugs

zookskiing
By Paul M. Banks

You would think that when a coach is leading a program that is the pre-eminent power in all of college football, said coach would possess a sense of humility and sportsmanship. You would think that when you’re coaching the reigning national champions, with a quarterback deemed sacrosanct and above criticism by the national media, you would be content, satisfied and have better things to do that fire insults at the leader of a mediocre college football program.

However, Florida Gators head man Urban Meyer is obviously none of these things- but he did become a strong candidate for my 2010 douchebracket when he went out of his way to viciously slander Illinois head football coach Ron Zook, his predecessor at the University of Florida.


I’ll let ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg break it down

“Meyer’s response came after The Orlando Sentinel’s Jeremy Fowler asked him how he treats fighting between players after an alleged incident at Miami that left Hurricanes defensive end Adewale Ojomo with a broken jaw.urban_meyer_poster2

The question had no mention of Zook or the previous regime, but Meyer, who never mentioned Zook by name, launched into this attack.

“When we first got here five years ago they had freshmen in a separate locker room and it was a bunch of tin lockers over there and they weren’t allowed to walk [into the regular locker room],” Meyer told reporters Friday. “Think about this for a minute: this is a big-time college football program and we had some fights because they treat their freshman like they were non-people.

“‘Don’t walk through here, we’ll kick your tail, we’ll shave your eyebrows.’ It took us awhile to break that great culture we had here. That was tremendous. You don’t win many games, but you beat up freshman and shave eyebrows. Absolutely unbelievable.”

Oh, wait, there’s more.

“It’s called a team, not some silly nonsense. That was five years ago, let’s go beat up freshmen. Let’s get our brains kicked in against our rival, but let’s go beat up a freshman.”

The first rule of show-business (and college football is obviously show-business, why else would the NCAA sellout control of their postseason to corporate sponsors) you never use your bit to attack the guy who does bigger numbers than you. That’s why MSNBC’s Keith Olberman devotes so much of his show to trashing Bill O’Reilly, his ratings are lower than O’Reilly’s. (But to be fair the combined IQ of O’Reilly’s collective audience is likely less than a random sampling of 100 Olberman viewers) It’s why I never attacked that Miller Park Drunk.com douchenozzle, but he slammed me. His web traffic is light years behind mine. So why did Meyer go out of his way to slam Zook, who is five years removed from the The Swamp? “Have you no decency, sir?”

Seriously, the Zooker may have his faults, but at least he knows how to take the high road, when the massive tool that is Urban Meyer probably couldn’t even find it with a Garmin.

Again quoting Rittenberg’s piece, this is what Zook had to say

“I was surprised to see that, once again, five years later, we’re blamed for something else at Florida. But by now I guess I shouldn’t be. This one was most disappointing because it implies we didn’t look out for our players. From someone who wasn’t there at the time. I can assure you I’ve never, ever been accused of that. I thought I was too much of a players’ coach.”

Just in case you don’t hate Florida (the over-hyped, over-exposed like North Carolina in basketball program of college football) enough yet, Meyer is doing his best to give you some rationale.