Friday, October 05, 2007

The empty cupboard myth shattered

While the pundits heap praise upon Ron Zook for the success the Illini are having (against a very weak schedule thus far), a story is developing far away from Champaign-Urbana. It's the unraveling of the empty cupboard myth that Ron Zook and his supporters created at Florida. But the unraveling is not happening in Gainesville, it's happening in Columbia, South Carolina. Confused yet? Well let me enlighten you.

By now we all know that when Ron Zook was hired to coach the Gators before the 2002 season, that lines were immediately drawn between those that supported the decision and those who shook their collective head and said "huh?". Over time many of us who were on the fence, joined those became more and more vocal about the need to rid ourselves the scourge that was Zook.

At the same time Zook's supporters among the Gator faithful became more and more stubborn in their support, to the point that they unquestioningly bought Zook's explanation that he inherited a Gator team that was devoid of talent. They clung to this myth, even after Zook was finally fired and even attempted to give Zook credit for the Gators BCS championship in the 2006 season.

Now we will see the myth for what it was and what it is: merely a myth.

In order to believe in the proposition that the Gator squad Zook inherited was lacking in talent, you have to believe that Steve Spurrier's recruiting had been going down hill for at least a couple of years. Believers of the myth will say that Spurrier had lost interest in recruiting and in college football. In fact, they'll say he was never really a good recruiter to begin with. They will say that Ron Zook was the secret to Spurrier's success while he was an assistant at Florida. The Florida Gators were headed toward hard times, they will say, whether Spurrier had left or not.

Now let the myth busting begin.

First of all, I am a big believer that the best indicator of future performance is past performance. And by that measure we have no reason to believe (and no evidence to support) the idea that Spurrier had lost his edge, recruiting or otherwise. It's fortunate for the believers of the myth that recruiting records at places like scout.com and rivals.com don't go back far enough to see what Spurrier's recruiting classes looked like in the late 90s and and in 2000.

But let's look at what we do know. Spurrier takes over a hapless Duke team and turns it around, winning an ACC title. He then takes over a mediocre Florida program that is on probation and turns it around, winning several SEC titles and a national title. His last season at Florida (2001), the Gators went 10-2. In his penultimate year (2000) he won an SEC title. So if we are to believe that the 2002 Gators were talentless then we must believe that something happened abruptly which caused Steve Spurrier to completely change his make-up. Show me the evidence, I say.

Spurrier's Cocks were 4-1 and ranked 11th going into tonights game against undefeated and 8th ranked Kentucky. And guess what? Ron Zook didn't recruit a single player on this team. So who did? Spurrier, of course.

South Carolina's recruiting class for 2006 was ranked 33rd in the country by Scout.com. The class included (3) 4-star recruits and (13) 3-star recruits. In contrast, the "master recruiter" Ron Zook had the 28th ranked recruiting class. "Aha!" you say, "it's better than Spurrier." But I quote Lee Corso and say "Not so fast my friend!" Ron Zook's class that year also consisted of (3) 4-star recruits and (13) 3-star recruits. And, in fact, the average rating for Zook's class (2.70) was marginally lower than Spurrier's (2.79). The difference in that ranking lies in the fact that Illinois had 3 more commits than South Carolina. So the idea that Spurrier couldn't recruit without Zook, or somehow lost his recruiting touch takes a serious blow.

Now if you look at the 2007 recruiting classes you'll see that Spurrier managed to bring in the 7th ranked class in the country with (1) 5-star, (13) 4-stars and (13) 3-stars. The average rating was 3.35. Zook on the other hand was much ballyhooed for bringing in the countries 20th ranked class with (2) 5-stars, (5) 4-stars and (8) 3-stars for an average rating of 3.14.

Bang, bang. Another nail in the coffin.

And one thing that I haven't mentioned yet is something that is very important in this whole argument. And that's coaching. You know, what coaches are supposed to do when they aren't recruiting.

Spurrier took a bad team and improved its record in his first year. He improved again in his second year and in his third year he is giving teams in the SEC nightmares. Meanwhile Zook took Florida down a couple of notches and despite his many claims to the contrary, never improved the club. At least not where it counts, in the win column.

The Illini likewise went backward under Zook. Ron Turner won 4 games in his last season at Illinois before he got shitcanned and Zook needed two seasons to win that many. Which brings us to 2007. Yes Illinois is 4-1 Yes they beat Penn State. But to that I say, "so what?" The Big 10 is proving to be terrible again this year. Penn State lost to the team (Michigan) that lost to a 1AA school (Appalachian State).

If the folks at Illinois are happy with the Zooker then I'm happy for them. But please, for the love of God stop peddling the myth that Spurrier didn't or couldn't recruit at the end of his time at Florida. You're embarrassing yourselves.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Umm . . . who are you arguing with? Who is still claiming that Spurrier left an empty cupboard?

The world knows that Spurrier and Meyer are good coaches, and that Zook is (at best) mediocre. Sure, there are puff pieces being written about the feel-good Illini revival, but that's standard web commentary, not serious sentiment.

I think you are obsessed. It's OK, I don't think you have to play Auburn again this year.

Anonymous said...

Umm....Anon, there are still those among Gator Nation who make excuses for Zook and argue that Zook's failure was in part due to just that - that SOS left the cupboard bare. Zook apologists can't seem to see the forests for the trees and don't put the blame for what happened from 2002-2004 at UF where it belongs - squarely on the shoulders of the ZOOKER.

Obviously you're not a Gator fan, so you don't get Not Baghead's point. It's not "obsession"; it's a mere statement of facts that others either fail or REFUSE to believe as well as an invitation to open up some conversation. If this wasn't serious sentiment it wouldn't have been posted in the first place. SHEESH!

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm willing to be corrected. Just give me a link to a recent article (this season) claiming this.

Then I'll understand that you aren't merely piling on.

(first anon)

Anonymous said...

5-1

AGayGator said...

I want to lick your balls.

Anonymous said...

why are you still obsessing over something that happened 3 years ago? And why do you ignore the fact that Zook still brought in the Florida National Championship team??

5-1. That's the Illini 2007 record under Zook, including a win over #5 Wisconsin. I guess Zook can't coach, otherwise maybe Illinois would be 6-0!

Anonymous said...

Your obsession can't be healthy.

memyselfandillini said...

are you high? if not you should get high

Bubba_the 300LB Redneck Gator said...

Your vile obsession with Zook makes me HOTT!! I want you on the 50yd line at The Swamp.....on a hot, humid September afternoon in front of 80k rabid Gator brethren. Just you and me butt naked in a pool of HOTT, sticky orange Gatorade.....mmmmmmmmmm I'm about to explode!!!

Anonymous said...

Can't figure out why on Earth you are keeping a "Fire Ron Zook" blog as a Florida fan. He already got fired. It's time for you to move on and find another hobby. Zook is Illinois' problem now (and I'm pretty sure he's a problem they're more than happy to have.) Why do you still care?

Zook's recruits won you a National Championship. Even UM gave him credit. How can you be so obsessed with a man you've never met, and has nothing to do with your current program?

entitledgatorfannumber1 said...

1. You're using a strawman argument. What does Spurrier's 2007 recruiting class at South Carolina have to do with his 2001 class at Florida? It tells you nothing about his recruiting before bolting for the NFL. Your entire post doesn't contain a shred of evidence that refutes the "empty cupboard theory."

2. Your comment about Illinois' "weak" schedule has little merit, either. Beating ranked Penn State and Wisconsin teams, dominating a good Indiana team on the road, and barely losing to a ranked Missouri team constitute a weak schedule? Come off it.

3. Get the hell over it. Seriously. Just get over it. You have a coach that has made you successful. Illinois has a coach that is making them successful. Everyone should be happy. So shut up about it.

Fascinating said...

Says here that the Illini have the 3rd toughest schedule in the nation. But keep running with the "against a very weak schedule" myth if you want to...

http://sportsline.com/collegefootball/polls/119

Anonymous said...

Just saw that you created this blog in November, 2006. When was Zook's last game at Florida? Did you hit your head falling off the short bus?

I bet you're that Charlie kid from the Florida Youtube video. Seeing the Auburn kicker giving your fans the "Chomp" may be one of the best moments of this college season.

Oh yeah, how did LSU taste?

Anonymous said...

YOU ARE THE LICKER OF ANOTHERS BALLS!1!!

StanForroninWitnessProtection said...

And some of you wondered how I got so many threatening letters and calls?

Anonymous said...

Life.

Get one.

Please.

LSU and Auburn said...

Oh man, I bet you're a great guy.

I know exactly what you are doing. You are just taking out your anger over UF's two consecutive losses and removal from title consideration on a man that has returned from national shame to be a huge feel-good story.

Face it, Zook is showing that he can bring in great recruits, and even coach them. The Illini are closer to a national title right now than the Gators, and Mr. Zook is leading the charge.

Thanks for playing. Looking forward to more impotent rants from a small man locked in his own anger and acne.

Youputthegayingator said...

You are a sad, sad little man. Imaginingg how empty and hollow your life must be to spend your time insulting a man who has not had any affect on your life for three years both frightens and scares me.

And Ron Turner won 4 games in his last TWO years. If you're going to make an argument please refrain from making crap up to support it, kthx.

Anonymous said...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=viSJgjoqLFs

I found out who this guy is.

Not Baghead said...

You're using a strawman argument. What does Spurrier's 2007 recruiting class at South Carolina have to do with his 2001 class at Florida? It tells you nothing about his recruiting before bolting for the NFL. Your entire post doesn't contain a shred of evidence that refutes the "empty cupboard theory."

The point, since you missed it is that Spurrier was obviously able to recruit before and he is certainly able to recruit now. The proponents of the empty cupboard myth want us to believe he either forgot or stopped caring about recruiting during a 2-3 year window before he left for the NFL. I'm calling bullshit on that and bullshit on you.

Your comment about Illinois' "weak" schedule has little merit, either. Beating ranked Penn State and Wisconsin teams, dominating a good Indiana team on the road, and barely losing to a ranked Missouri team constitute a weak schedule? Come off it.

It really doesn't matter what teams are ranked now or early in the season. What matters is where your opponents are ranked at the END of the season. Check back here in December and we'll see where Penn State and Wisconsin and Missouri are.

Get the hell over it. Seriously. Just get over it. You have a coach that has made you successful. Illinois has a coach that is making them successful. Everyone should be happy. So shut up about it.

How about you suck my balls asshole? That cocksucking Zook caused me 3 years of torment.

Anonymous said...

I suppose if i was some trailer trash hick in the backswamps of Florida I'd be pretty pissed too since UF football is all i have to live for.

You've never set foot in a UF classroom, have you?

Seriously, get a job or something.

Anonymous said...

Good point you made about Spurrier's recruiting during the last 2-3 years he was at UF, Not Baghead. If he "left the cupboard bare" as Zook apologists accuse him of, would we have made two straight BCS bowl appearances in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 because of weak recruiting? HELL NO.

And NO, it wasn't just "Zook's recruits" who won us a National Championship - how about the 2005 and 2006 recruiting classes? Those were MEYER's recruits, not Zook's.

Yeah, those of you who doubt the blog entry and drink the Zook Kool-Aid, come back here in December when all is said and done. NO WAY will the Zookheads be playing for the NC. The day that happens will be Armageddon!