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Funny article about Gators.
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Rmun Offline
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Ignore the slam at Ole Miss and MSU and read the line about Mississippi Valley State. 03-lol


<a href='http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/college/gators/orl-sptbianchi24102404oct24,1,6093855.column?coll=orl-sports-headlines' target='_blank'>http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/coll...ports-headlines</a>


One Mississippi.

Two Mississippi.

Three Mississippi State.

Time is nearly up on the Ron Zook coaching era at the University of Florida.

It won't be long now.

After Saturday's humiliating 38-31 loss to a pitiful Mississippi State team, Zook is now 0-3 against the state of Mississippi in his two-plus seasons at Florida. Two losses to Ole Miserable, one to Mississloppy State. And that ringing sound you just heard was University of Florida AD Jeremy Foley's phone: It's Mississippi Valley State calling to schedule the Gators for homecoming next year.

They tore down the goalposts in Starkville on Saturday; Foley may be tearing up Ron Zook's contract in Gainesville today.

Cowbells clanged in Starkville on Saturday; the death knell reverberates in Gainesville today.

This was not just any loss; this will go down as one of the most embarrassing losses in Florida football history. The Bulldogs were the worst team in the SEC. They had lost nine straight conference games. They were blown out 31-13 by Vanderbilt. And they lost to Maine.

Did you hear what I just said? They lost to Maine!

I didn't even know Maine had a football team.

This will be the defeat that likely costs Zook his job at the end of the season -- if he even lasts that long. I'm just wondering if Foley hasn't already called Steve Spurrier and said, "Hey, Steve-a-reeno, do you think you can have a game plan ready for Georgia next week?"

We're joking -- we think. Surely Foley will let Zook coach out the string and try to save his job -- won't he?

Although wouldn't that go against one of Foley's philosophical creeds? Foley has said many times that in the AD business, "What needs to be done eventually must be done immediately."

Question: Does anybody out there today believe Ron Zook will not be fired eventually?

Then, according to Foley, shouldn't he be fired immediately?

If Foley waits and Zook does the unthinkable -- runs the table, beats Georgia and Florida State and saves his job -- then aren't the Gators back in the same situation again next year? Another season filled with Zook speculation; Year 4 of Zook trying to prove himself to Gator Nation and Foley fruitlessly trying to justify the hiring of one of the most unpopular and unproven coaches in UF history.

I've said all along that Zook should have never been hired, but since he was indeed hired, he deserved a chance to prove himself. He may have just used up his last chance Saturday.

Zook couldn't even afford to stub his toe, so what does he do? He amputates his foot.

I'm not one for firing coaches willy-nilly, but college football is big business. And in any business, you have to keep the customers happy. The customers in Gainesville? They'll soon be buying tickets to UF's Century Tower -- just so they can jump off of it.

After the loss to LSU two weeks ago, fans in the concourse chanted "Fire Ron Zook!" Many longtime observers say they have never seen more empty seats at Florida Field than this season. I've spoken to many UF die-hards who say sometimes they secretly root for losses "just so Zook will be fired."

Which brings us to the famously tacky Web site that now seems more like a prophecy. Sadly but truly, they were selling thong underwear on THE site Saturday with this inscription: "FireRonZook.com: Because the SEC already has one Vandy."

After the Mississippi State game, I phoned one of the most avid Gator fans I know, and here's how the conversation went:

Fan: "Zook needs to be fired today."

Me: "You can't fire a coach in the middle of the season."

Fan: "Why not? Galen Hall was fired in the middle of the season."

Me: "Galen Hall was accused of cheating."

Fan: "Ron Zook is cheating, too. He's cheating Gator fans' out of our enjoyment."

Even Zook seems to sense the end is getting near, and you wonder if he will actually be relieved when it finally comes? He's been getting bludgeoned and berated ever since he was hired three years ago.

After the loss to LSU, he admitted he's had trouble eating and sleeping. A few days ago, after word leaked out about Zook being involved in a verbal spat with members of a campus fraternity, Zook told me, "This is another opportunity for people to pile on and try to put another nail in the coffin."

Unfortunately, when it comes to providing nails, Zook is the "Helpful Hardware Man." He's 0-6 against ranked teams at home, and now he's losing to horrible teams on the road. Zook's specialty is defense, but the Gators allowed the 114th-ranked offense in the country to score 38 points and run for 251 yards Saturday. Inexcusable.

When Foley was asked about Zook's job security Saturday, he replied: "We'll continue to evaluate. That's really all I can say. We understand how big of a loss this is, and we understand it's not acceptable at the University of Florida."

That's twice in two weeks Foley has used the term "not acceptable" when referring to Zook. He uttered the exact same words after the frat house incident several days ago.

So go ahead and start counting down the days:

One Mississippi.

Two Mississippi.

Three Mississippi State.

Ready or not, here comes the Ron Zook firing squad.

Mike Bianchi can be reached at mbianchi@orlandosentinel.com.
10-24-2004 07:23 PM
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