TWO BITS: Cooper on the NFL, Bruce on Meyer

1 » Though he has already signed a professional contract with the Texas Rangers after being selected in the 25th round of the 2009 MLB Draft, Florida Gators senior wide receiver Riley Cooper has his sights set on the NFL and plans to do whatever he can to land a spot on a team. “I’m going to the NFL combine and the Senior Bowl,” Cooper said during his Sugar Bowl interview on Monday. “Hopefully [I’ll] run a good 40 [yard dash], hopefully run a 4.3 or 4.4, not that 4.52 [that scouts] are talking about. Hopefully my draft stock goes up a lot.” As to whether or not baseball is still a consideration, Cooper said, “I do think I’m definitely going to have a decision to make.”

2 » Earle Bruce, the man who gave Urban Meyer his first coaching job as a graduate assistant with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 1987 and continues to be his friend and mentor to this day, spoke with Sporting News Today to provide some perspective on recent happenings involving the Florida head coach. “I was with Urban the Friday night before the Alabama game for the SEC Championship, and I could see there was something wrong,” Bruce said. “He looked withdrawn and a little bit under-weight. He looked like he wasn’t enjoying anything. I didn’t see the same passion he’s had for coaching. And then, watching the game, I don’t think he was all together with it. He’s usually a dominant factor on the sidelines, and he wasn’t in the game. He was subdued, and that’s not his way.” Bruce dives deeper into Meyer’s situation and how he can correct it and return to being “the finest football mind I know.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Who will replace Strong as defensive coordinator?

Now that Charlie Strong is officially the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer must find someone to replace him as the team’s defensive coordinator. Strong, who said Wednesday that he will stay on to coach the Gators defense in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, will likely work with his future successor in preparation for the game, similar to how former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen worked with his replacement Steve Addazio before the 2009 BCS National Championship. Assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney and assistant defensive coordinator/safeties coach Chuck Heater are currently Meyer’s leading candidates to replace Strong, though he could hire someone from the outside.

Dan McCarney
Assistant head coach, defense/defensive line coach

A 32-year coaching veteran, McCarney remains the longest tenured head coach in Big 12 history, leading the Iowa State Cyclones to five bowl games from 1995-2006. He was named Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2004 and was responsible for the rebirth of Iowa State’s defense, which ranked among the Big 12 leaders in total defense in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. Prior to his tenure with the Cyclones, McCarney, 56, was the Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator. In 1993, his defense ranked 19th nationally against the run and allowed only 16.3 points per game. Wisconsin recorded a nation’s-best 23 interceptions as well as 34 turnovers that season.

Chuck Heater
Assistant defensive coordinator, safeties coach

A 33-year coaching veteran, Heater has worked with Meyer at four different programs including the Ohio State Buckeyes, Colorado State Rams and Utah Utes. He has worked with six National Coaches of the Year (Barry Alvarez, Earle Bruce, Lou Holtz, Meyer, Bill McCartney, Bo Schembechler) and coached in 22 bowl games including six on New Year’s Day and two BCS National Championship games. Heater, 57, was the Gators’ recruiting coordinator in 2006 and 2007 for two of the team’s best recruiting classes to date. His cornerback units helped Florida lead the SEC in interceptions with 16 (2005, T-Georgia) and 21 (2006), respectively.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TWO BITS: Meyer sought advice; East-West Shrine

1 » Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer sought the advice of his mentors and fellow coaches in making a decision regarding quarterback Tim Tebow. He spoke with current ESPN analyst Lou Holtz, former Ohio State Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce and two current coaches whose names he kept private. “I learned a lot these past two weeks,” Meyer said.

2 » Tebow, middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, wide receiver Riley Cooper, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and kick returner Brandon James have been invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 23 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,