Share this article

print logo


When Athletics Director Jeremy Foley fired Ron Zook, he asked him to coach Florida's remaining four games.

Zook agreed without hesitation, citing an obligation to his players.

Now he finds himself in the awkward position of finishing the season knowing his future isn't with the program.

"I'm a ball coach. I'm going to do what my responsibility is," Zook said.

But what will the Gators do? Will they rally around their coach -- win one for the Zooker -- or stumble through the rest of the season starting with No. 10 Georgia on Saturday?

"We're not going to collapse," kicker Matt Leach said. "They can bend us, but they're not going to break us. We've got more to play for now. We're going to show everyone that we can get it done. That's what we're playing for."

Florida (4-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) begins play with a lame-duck coach against the Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1) in the annual rivalry played in Jacksonville.

Georgia has lost six straight and 13 of the last 14 in the series, and fourth-year coach Mark Richt acknowledged the unranked Gators may have a mental edge.

"If a team loses two or three times, I don't know if it's so much of a psychological issue," Richt said. "But when it gets to the point that it has gotten with us, I'm sure the mind can play games with you."

The Bulldogs are in a good position to end the streak, mostly because of the distractions the Gators have endured.

Zook was fired Monday, two days after an embarrassing 38-31 loss at Mississippi State. Once Foley and School President Bernie Machen agreed to make the move, they said they decided to announce it instead of lying about Zook's job security for the rest of the season.

The timing of it disgusted players, assistant coaches and probably Zook -- although he hasn't spoken publicly about his feelings on his dismissal. Even coaches and players from around the country and the NFL have questioned it.

After all, Zook has a winning record and has been at Florida for less than three seasons. But for everything he didn't accomplish -- winning close games, winning the conference, beating a team from Mississippi, getting a Bowl Championship Series berth -- he did continue the program's dominance against its No. 1 foe, Georgia.

Zook could improve to 3-0 Saturday, but only if his players are able to overcome the finger pointing from the latest loss, the emotional strain from Zook's firing and their disappointment with the way Foley handled the dismissal. Players knew about it for hours before a hostile team meeting.

"There's no telling how this team might play now," safety Jarvis Herring said. "It might be one of the best games you've ever seen us play since Zook's been here. Everybody's real angry, and all our anger will be taken out Saturday."

Virginia Tech rallies for win

ATLANTA -- Bryan Randall threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as No. 22 Virginia Tech rallied for a 34-20 victory over Georgia Tech on Thursday.

Randall threw an 80-yard scoring pass to Eddie Royal with 5:28 remaining, then completed another pass for the tying 2-point conversion.

On the Hokies' next series, the quarterback ran for 32 yards, then connected with Josh Morgan on a 51-yard TD with 3:10 remaining.

Josh Minor went 64 yards with an interception return in the final minute, capping a 25-point fourth quarter for the Hokies (6-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Georgia Tech (4-3, 3-3) took a 14-0 lead but couldn't hold it.

There are no comments - be the first to comment