Zook and Florida coaching staff fired today.
Two-and-a-half years and 33 games after Zook's hiring, it looks like the coach's initial detractors among Gators fans were right. Hiring Zook was the wrong move.
To be fair to Zook, not only was the precedent set by his predecessor a ridiculous one, he also had to contend with the disaffected masses who were angry simply because his name wasn't Bob Stoops or Mike Shanahan. The fact that FireRonZook.com existed before he had coached a game is a sad commentary on the Florida fan base. Zook needed to get off to a fast start in order to win the Florida fans over, but he never managed to do so. Going 8-5 isn't satisfactory to the fans of the school, and Zook's Gators compounded matters by losing a headscratcher or two in each of his seasons (with the latest, and last, being to Mississippi State). About the only thing he did right was beat Georgia, but even that doesn't mean a whole lot--after all, Florida always beats Georgia.
He wasn't successful against Tennessee, FSU, or Miami, and he could hardly afford to pile up losses to Florida's rivals.
When the loss to Mississippi State sent the Gators to 4-3 and put them on track for another year similar to Zook's first two, Florida's administration had had enough. I don't think that Florida has acted hastily in firing Zook, but I would have preferred they do it after the season. Firing a guy in midseason puts everyone in a difficult position--the coaches are working with the knowledge that they are lame ducks, and the players know it as well. How will Florida play from here on out? It's anybody's guess. Without this distraction, the Gators are a bowl team; with it, they could tank completely.
I am going to laugh if Florida's coaching search ends up being similar to Nebraska's--i.e., all the big names say no. I don't think that Stoops or Shanahan are realistic candidates, nor do I think that Spurrier is going to come back to his old job. So what happens if Urban Meyer and Bobby Petrino turn down the Gators? Quite possibly another less-than-ideal hire, which, when compounded with Zook's work, could send the program into complete chaos. Of course, Florida will do everything it can to avoid hiring a guy without some pedigree. They didn't fire Zook just to hire some no-name NFL assistant to replace him.
No matter how similar to the Nebraska situation this ends up being, the Gators can be thankful for one thing: Bill Callahan is not their head coach.