A whirlwind for Azzanni as Meyer still searches

By Adam Silverstein
December 18, 2009

Less than 24 hours after Billy Gonzales stepped down from his post to become the passing game coordinator for the LSU Tigers, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer had Zach Azzanni locked up as his new wide receivers coach. Soon after that, Azzanni did a 360 on the recruiting trail, leaving the Central Michigan Chippewas‘s prospects behind and focusing on the Gators’ targets.

For the past week, Azzanni has been feeling his way around – going on recruiting trips, meeting his new coaching mates, getting to know Florida’s current players and finding a place to live as he survives out of his suitcase. On Friday, he participated in his first practice and is still trying to get his feet on the ground. “It’s been a blur to me,” Azzanni told the press Friday. “It happened fast. I got a call last week and got off the road for Central Michigan and got on the road for the University of Florida. This is a dream job and a chance of a lifetime to come and coach with the defending National Champions, and I’m going to take it.”

Since he left CMU, Azzanni’s former head coach Butch Jones also vacated his position, replacing Brian Kelly as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats. The media immediately named Azzanni one of the top candidates to replace Jones, even though he had just accepted his new position with the Gators. While he could very well be under consideration, Azzanni has yet to be contacted about the position.

“Hey, that’s flattering,” he said of the speculation. “It’s my alma mater and a great place. But I’m a Gator and I’m here, let’s go. I have not been contacted by them. It’s just rumors and things I can’t control. I don’t know [if they will contact me]. I’m not going to speculate. I’m here wearing a Gator on my shirt and coaching the wideouts as hard as I can.”

Cornerbacks coach Lance Bedford and quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler have also been rumored as candidates for head coaching and coordinator jobs, but Meyer said he has not yet been contacted by any schools asking permission to speak with them. “I just hired a guy and I hear his name is up [for a head coaching job],” Meyer said. “I’ve been blessed with some great coaches. Eventually coach [Steve] Addazio will be a head coach. Charlie [Strong], you knew that was a matter of time. We just have to keep going. This is Florida and you should have great coaches.”

As far as filling Strong’s open defensive coordinator position, Meyer said he has not achieved much on that front. “I’ve been on the road. I just got back,” he said. “I’ve been working the phones and getting bombarded [by interview requests]. There are a lot of things to consider. I don’t want to comment [on who I might hire]. I’m still at the ground stages of it. It’s the puzzle, the alignment.”

2 Comments

  1. Gatorfan33 says:

    Adam have you heard anything about who may be in the lead to replace Strong as DC?

  2. At this point, no. Urban is keeping this very close to the vest, though I am sure leaks will come out. I have a sneaking suspicion that he is not going to find exactly what he is looking for and settle with Chuck Heater. Then again, Meyer said he has a ton of people contacting him for interviews – so maybe he is doing his due diligence (unlike perhaps what he did last year in just hiring from within without looking outside).

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