The prevailing sentiment from fans when offensive coordinator Steve Addazio’s name is brought up can best be summed up by a long groan. His offense is widely considered to be bland, unimaginative and ineffective. The Florida Gators decision to only utilize their running backs four times in the 2009 SEC Championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide seemed, plainly, absurd. Yet head coach Urban Meyer trusts no one on his staff more than Addazio and appointed him as “interim” coach in his stead, a decision that was met with elation by the team.
“I think [Addazio will] do a great job,” senior quarterback Tim Tebow said. “When Coach Meyer [...] had Coach Addazio walk up in front of the team, it was one of the loudest ovations I’ve been a part of in my entire life.” Tebow said the ovation went on for “three or four minutes,” when Meyer made the announcement in the tarmac at the Gainesville Regional Airport Sunday morning. “That was one of the coolest parts of the last two days. Everyone is behind him. It’s a rallying cry to do well for Coach Addazio, too. Everyone is behind him 100 percent.”
Also on the Addazio bandwagon is junior center Maurkice Pouncey, who told the media on Monday that he is “one of the greatest coaches in history.” “He knows how to lead the team, get the team going,” Pouncey added. “He’s a father figure on the field and off the field. Great guy.”
Respect from the team for Addazio is plenty, but players also expect Meyer to be around quite often during his sabbatical of a to be determined length. “He’ll be around a lot,” Pouncey said. “That day-to-day job on him is tough.”
Maurkice’s brother Mike and junior running back Jeff Demps both told reporters that many more juniors would be declaring for the 2010 NFL Draft had Addazio not been named the interim coach. “It probably would have made the decision for a lot of the juniors who even had a thought about leaving because the program would have been totally changed,” Demps said. “A lot of guys probably didn’t want to go through that.”
Speaking with the media himself Monday, Addazio believes he can keep the ship headed in the right direction should Meyer not return in the short-term. “This has become one of the premier teams and programs in all of college football, and it’s been built on a great foundation with great players, coaches, administrative support and the best athletic director in America,” Addazio said. “All of those things are right there for us to keep this going as a great program, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”