Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley outlines his plan in hiring the program’s next head coach

By Adam Silverstein
November 17, 2014

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley concluded his press conference on Monday by addressing how and when the program will move forward in hiring a replacement for head coach Will Muschamp. He also outlined the qualities an ideal candidate would possess, with a renewed focus on offensive success of paramount importance in the search.

“The search will begin immediately, this afternoon,” Foley began.

“There is no fixed timetable but we’ll proceed as quickly as we can. There’s a lot of work to do, a lot of research to do. We understand how important this hire is for this university. We also understand the pride of the Gator Nation. We understand the pride they have in this football program.

“Because we have fallen short the last several years, we totally understand the disappointment and their frustration. Their passion can cut both ways, and it’s their passion that makes this place special. … It’s an amazing place, so we absolutely want to make this right for them, for this football program and for this university.”

Foley noted that he is looking for a “high-integrity, high-character” individual like Muschamp. “Our mission statement around here says, ‘Championship experience with integrity.’ That is paramount to us as we move forward.”


But he also wants a coach who has proven to be “successful on the offensive side of the ball,” something Muschamp was not. Though an offensively-focused coach is not a prerequisite for this job, sustained success at a coach’s program is obviously of great importance.

“I think that’s obviously what the Gator Nation wants,” he said, “and we see that and that’s certainly what we’re going to try and provide for them. … You listen to fans. … We think that’s important. We’ll see what the [coaching] pool looks like, but we do think that’s important.”

He added later: “We need to have a coach that has a track record of success on the offensive side of the ball.”

There are other qualities important to Foley as well. He wants a coach who values all of Florida’s 21 sports, not just football, and possesses a high character both on and off the field.

“You don’t have to go to their games, but we got some really good sport programs around here, we got some really good coaches around here and you better value them, you better be part of them,” he said. “The beauty of what we do around here is we have a lot of coaches that interact together and work together and pick each other’s brains. you can’t come in here and think football is more important than the other 20 sports; that mindset doesn’t work here.

“Understanding the passion for Gator Nation, understanding the academic reputation of this institution, understanding that inside the building, that’s important. What does that mean? Respecting people and treating people right. Those things are important to us. Personal and individual philosophy? I think they translate into success. I think that’s eon reason why we’ve been successful round here, because we got a lot of people who are that way.”

Foley also noted that the University of Florida is “not a place for everybody, not everyone fits in here,” saying that a perfect “fit” between the coach and the program will be a big part of the search.

To this point, the Gators have not “talked to one head coach” and do not plan to “disrupt other people’s seasons,” according to Foley, meaning Florida will likely begin to reach out to interested parties after conference championship games are held in the first week of December.

“As we’ve always done around here, but again I want to make sure this is understood by everyone, we’ll handle this the right way. We don’t cut back-room deals here. We don’t have agents talking to other agents. that’s not how we do things here, no matter what is written or what is said,” Foley explained.

“It will be handled above-board, and I want that to be understood as well. I understand the intense interest in this search, understand that it will generate a lot of rumors, a lot of conversation. The intense interest in the search is what makes this place special. People care.”

Foley did not back away from questions about his role in hiring Muschamp and the current state of the football program either, noting that he is accepting of any blame that fans want to throw his way.

“We know how important this is to the Gator Nation. It’s important to the entire university. I’ve been here a long, long time. I know what’s important. I know how these fans support us. Pressure? That’s part of the gig. We got a very talented staff to assist. We’ll find somebody who wants to be here. Fans blaming me because we’re not successful? That’s part of it, too. I don’t hold any grudges about that. I understand that,” he said.

“We’re in the business to be successful. We’re in the business to represent the University of Florida the right way, we’re in the business to graduate people, we’re in the business to develop young men and women. But we’re also in the sports business. The University of Florida, we have expectations to win, same as our fans do. It’s the disappointment, the frustration [that the fans are expressing]. If someone blames me, that’s part of it. That’s part of it because we’re not successful as everybody wants us to be or as we want to be. I understand that. But I also understand the need for us to get this right and that’s why we’re here today, unfortunately.”

The Gators would like to make their hire in December, before Christmas, which would give the chosen coach enough time to recruit and prepare for National Signing Day in the first week of February. Florida’s 2015 recruiting class is currently ranked No. 72 nationally, according to Rivals.

“Anytime there is a coaching change, it’s difficult in recruiting, but signing day is not until February. You can’t rush this. At the end of the day, it’s still the University of Florida. We got a lot to offer up here. I think we have an opportunity here when a new coach will get in here,” Foley said.

“Recruiting is about relationships, that’s the way it is. A new coach coming in here will obviously be a little bit behind the eight ball, but you’re not going to rush it because of recruiting. Recruiting is important, but we’ll get a coach in here in plenty of time to go visit and convince some folks that this is a good place to be, because it is a good place to be, and we got a lot to offer. That has not changed.”

Foley will not make the hire on his own. He has not decided whether to employ a search firm, but he will mostly rely on his internal staff before coming to a decision with school president Bernie Machen. W. Kent Fuchs, UF’s president beginning in 2015, will also have input on the matter.

36 Comments

  1. Steven says:

    Let’s hope he get’s his average back to .500 with this hire

  2. Dave Massey says:

    I have 100% confidence Foley will make a good hire.

    • Michael Jones says:

      I don’t.

      • Dave Massey says:

        I don’t care what you think, I don’t need your approval. You are so closed minded on the subject it is sad. You think that Mullen is the only person for the job and won’t even consider anybody else no matter how deserving they might be. You whine about Foley’s petty grudges but it seems like you are the one holding the petty grudge because Foley wouldn’t hire your candidate and wouldn’t give you a personal explanation.

        You keep going on about how Muschamp didn’t handle the Orr situation correctly. The guy had a couple of arrests and deserted his team on game day for totally selfish reasons, and Muschamp didn’t handle it correctly? Puh-lease. Go back and read my response to your last comment about that again. It is that kind of mentality that let the inmates run the asylum while Meyer was here and ended up “breaking the program” in Meyer’s own words. Mullen was part of that staff that allowed those things to go on. I don’t think anybody that was on Meyer’s staff here will be given consideration for the job, including Mullen, because of all those off the field issues. Oh, BTW Orr: Meyer recruit.

        I think most everybody in Gator Nation wants a fresh start, including me. Every program has a past and that’s where ours needs to stay. I don’t have the answer to who it should be but I believe Foley will find him and hire him. Let Mullen go coach at Michigan.

      • G2 says:

        He has to hit a home run or his legacy will be affected. He might be as hardheaded as Muschamp!

    • mjGator says:

      You’re way more confident than I am.

  3. Ken (CA) says:

    Some may groan, but based on his criteria, there are about 2 possible candidates: Spurrier (who already sort of said no) or Stoops that would pass all of his standards. Personally, I would be happy with either, although probably happier with Stoops as he would have more longevity

    • DC Gator says:

      David Shaw? Stanford has high academic standards and a big athletic program. Shaw seems to be a stand-up guy and is an offense minded coach with success on offense and head coaching experience in a power 5 conference. Not to mention he’s in a crowded field out west and doing it with less resources than he would have at UF.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        And what championship experience has he got?

      • LegoGator says:

        Shaw is horrible. He’ll be around another year or two before Stanfurd cans him. He’s riding on Harbaugh’s coattails.

      • Michael J. says:

        Shaw? Are you kidding? Remember the goal is to get a guy that has had success on offense. Shaw’s run’s a very boring run oriented offense that is even more boring than UF’s. He runs the ball into the line, regardless of the situation and even if he’s stuffed three times previously. Have you even watched Stanford play? Foley would have a riot on his hand if he hired another boring offensive coach.

    • Tractorr says:

      Stoops has also already said that he is not interested.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        Actually, while I would be very surprised if he came, his answer wasn’t a no at all, not like Spurrier’s, certainly.

        • Tractorr says:

          “All I want to be is a candidate at Oklahoma. I’m not a candidate anywhere else. I’m finished with that question.”

          That sounds fairly conclusive to me.

          Besides what he said, why would he come to Florida? He has a much easier road to conference and national championship at OU, similar funding, facilities and fan support. About the only positive Florida has is recruiting but Stoops spends more time in Texas than he has in Florida for the last decade plus so it isn’t like he has all the Florida contacts he needs to recruit at a high level immediately.

          • Ken (CA) says:

            Actually, that to me sounds like a very non-denial denial in the middle of a season and politically correct answer. He doesn’t have huge fan support, and many have suggested it may be time for him to move on. Like I said, it is probably a long shot he would come, but it wasn’t like Spurrier’s (paraphrasing) “I’m not going to Florida, they need a coach that will be around for another 10 years or more”.

            Of course he isn’t a candidate anywhere right now, it is the middle of the season, it is a true statement. It doesn’t really say anything at all. I don’t expect him to leave even if asked, but it isn’t nearly as conclusive as you make it sound.

      • Aligator says:

        so did spurrier.

        If you don’t think Foley has not had back channel conversations with potential candidates, then you all believe what he said about waiting until the end of the season. he has reached out to people who are up and coming and who will be around for about 10 years and who can score points and have a decent track record with grades and off the field issues.

        people are killing me with talk of any one from the NFL or coaches who have been established in their programs for more than 5 or 6 years, that is not going to happen. tebow has never coached so dear God please stop that nonsense too.

  4. Michael Jones says:

    Who is the “we” that he keeps talking about? Is someone else helping him make this important decision? Or is he making it all by himself per usual and employing the royal “we?”

    Since he didn’t back off from any questions, did anyone have the stones to ask him if he considered Mullen the first time around? Because I did ask him, directly, at a Gator booster gathering right after he hired Muschamp. Got the usual non-responsive neither-admit/nor-deny blather for an answer.

    I’m sure he cares about Gator Nation to an extent, and I’m sure he cares about what the fans think to an extent, but his petty grudges and grievances apparently are paramount to those considerations.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Did you actually read the article? If so, try re-reading the last paragraph

    • Aligator says:

      He cares what the Gator Nation wants now that is costing him so much money. With the buyouts and lost revenue over the last few years, you are probably looking at 15 million plus. sad.

  5. Ken (CA) says:

    Don’t know their sources, but ESPN is reporting that neither Rodriguez nor Mullin are going to be considered, so no need for page long Mullin resume postings!

  6. Michael J. says:

    Please don’t mention Chip Kelly. From what Foley laid out, he’s not going to be considered. He had an 18 month show cause penalty from the NCAA. That’s not who you hire if you want integrity. UF doesn’t want him.

  7. KB says:

    Adam did a great job on the potential candidates list with names we all want or have thought about. I’m a Bob Stoops guy because I see him as a guy who could unite the fan base and built for the job. I read that article highlighting what Foley said and it could be no one from that list. I say any candidate can be possible but what determines the possibility of obtaining said coach is based on what the the person thinks of the job they currently have as well as other existing factors and or circumstances. I think Foley will do his due diligence in exploring the possibilities or engaging the interest in some of those names. I was thinking of some names of coaches who are not big names and might be assembled by a search committee that are outside of the box a bit. Coaches that could be on the cusp of being the next hot coaching commodity in college football. I thought of a few but I am not sure I could see Foley hiring any of them based off the last hire unless all better options have been explored.

    Bryan Harsin – maybe a bit premature to hold a job like UF but intriguing.
    Dino Babers – The more I reviewed him he kind of reminds me of another SEC coach who I thought UF should have explored when he was available.
    (http://www.si.com/college-football/campus-union/2014/04/15/dino-babers-bowling-green-falcons-spring-practice#)
    Larry Fedora – escape NCAA sanctions possibly?
    Justin Fuente – see Harsin.
    Jeff Brohm – infantile stages of head coaching with only 1 head coaching job.
    Kliff Kingsbury – young and intriguing but see Jeff Brohm
    Sonny Dykes – Offensive pedigree is there but I am not sure what else?
    Gary Anderson – Bielema exit to SEC? Also Defensive Coach.

    • Gatorgrad79 says:

      KB,

      Why not Art Briles? He is very offensive minded and has Baylor in the top 5. He would have better athletes at UF and would bring a Texas recruiting pipeline to Florida which could certainly not hurt! Of course, Baylor extended him to 2023 so the buyout is significant…

  8. Brandon says:

    Looks like Bob Stoops is the early leading candidate if he accepts a call from UF. I understand about having a coach who can keep the off the field problems fixed, grades, etc. Bottom line is Foley needs to hire a “winning” coach. One who is a proven winner and recruiter. At the end of the day its about winning! Foley needs to do everything in his power to hire Bob Stoops or Chip Kelly to right the ship. Go Gators!!

  9. Pat says:

    To Dave M,

    I don’t understand how you can be SO CONFIDANT in Foley making a good hire. Wasn’t all this criteria for hiring a coach in place when he hired this Muschamp who took a national championship team and turned it into a joke??? This is the man who brought us Ron Zook , who by the way did a much better job. I suppose if we can go on the every other coach hire will be a good one and if thats the case we are all set. I don’t understand why its so hard to find a good coach for this school. He also didn’t hire Urban Liar so please don’t go there. The UF Pres brought him in. Foley probably didn’t want him. NO I’m not convinced he will get it right this time either.

    • Dave Massey says:

      First off, Foley is the one who made the decision to hire Meyer, and pursued him and beat Notre Dame out for him. Adam already addressed this in a previous post and I will take his word for it over everybody else who thinks it was Machen that made that decision. Even Machen says it was Foley who did it. The most Machen probably did was talk to Meyer over the phone about Florida after Foley was pursuing him. But that was Foley’s deal.

      Foley is one of the top five AD’s in the country if not number 1. He has made a lot of great hires for a lot of Gator teams. That is why I am confident (the adjective version not the noun) that he will make a great hire. Believe me he knows how important this hire is and he has/had the time to make a thorough search and come up with the right man. Florida is still one of the top five jobs in college football no matter what our rivals say. Great facilities, great fan and financial support, the SEC, and an excellent recruiting base. There aren’t many who will turn Florida down.

      Foley hired Zook about 15 years ago and didn’t have the time to do a proper search as Spurrier didn’t resign until after the bowl game with Maryland and he had to make a quick decision, which was a bad one. He has gotten a lot better since then.

      Muschamp did not inherit a national championship team, we were 8-5 in Meyers last year and the program was “broken” in Meyers own words. He did not walk into a good situation and he did correct those off the field issues that were rampant under Meyer including better performance in the classroom. I don’t think Muschamp was a bad hire, he was very highly regarded by a lot of good people and still is. I do believe he made several critical errors though. 1. Tried to turn team into pro style offense when the current talent he had was spread offense, then tried to go back to being a spread team. 2. Micromanaged the play calling on offense. 3. Worst of all he hitched his wagon to Driskel. And we all know that was a donkey and not a horse. Three QB’s transferred out of the program and we had nobody else to rely on. Always wonder what would have happened if Brissett got the nod over Driskel. Maybe four years was not long enough to turn everything around but the decision making was suspect and probably is what led to his failure. I personally liked the guy and don’t feel the same way I did when Zook was tossed, challenging a frat to a fight, really.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        I also have no doubt that this came as no surprise to Foley, despite his 1000% confidence in WM. I am sure he has been researching possible replacements since last season, and intensified research post-Bama/Kentucky. I would expect this to be an extremely fast higher within a week of the end of the season, and it wouldn’t even surprise me if it came before the SEC championship game.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Not that hard to understand. It took 75 years for UF to get it right. Even Bear Bryant couldn’t understand and knew that as soon as UF found the right coach it would be impossible to beat in many ways, and said as much. Finding the right coach isn’t easy in any sport, especially one that has such visibility and pressure as a program like UF. There are only so many great coaches and of those only a few would be a fit for our style of program. finding the right coach who is also the right style and match is challenging.

  10. ESF0242 says:

    A name i see on everyones “top up & coming coaches” lists is Mark Hudspeth, although i dont know much about him

  11. ryan v says:

    Adam, how come no one has thrown Steve Addazios name into the coaching mix?

    • Ken (CA) says:

      You’re joking, right? Fans couldn’t get him out the door fast enough, we don’t want him back.

    • Gatorgrad79 says:

      Ryan V,

      He will not come. My son-in-law is an asst coach for him at BC on the OL (after playing OL for UF on the 06 and 08 teams). He did not leave with a good relationship with Foley. I would be shocked if he came back and I don’t think he is the right guy anyway.

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