Former NC State Assistant Head Football Coach, John “Doc” Holliday has reportedly “turned down overtures from Marshall – and a possible five-year contract – to remain part of the Urban Meyer movement at Florida. On Friday, Holliday removed himself from consideration for the head coaching job at Marshall. Holliday interviewed for the job Tuesday and was considered a leading candidate to get the position, which would have come with a five-year contract.”
I do not represent that I have intimate inside information or perspective on Doc’s situation (that is well chronicled at this link), but IF you believe much of the previous talk about Doc’s deep-rooted desire to be a head football coach at the Division One level, then something here does not add up.
Doc obviously knows better than anyone else what is best for himself and his family. So my comments are not meant to criticize him or his decision. I share Brewster’s curiosity as stated on a Pack Pride Premium thread, “Just seems strange that someone jonesing so hard to be a head coach would turn down a prime 1st time head coaching job.”
IF Doc’s desire to be a head coach is as strong as has been historically represented, then it is hard NOT to consider this a potential mistake.
Marshall is a solid mid-major program that is built for consistent success. They have a nice “market niche” and a history of propelling coachings into larger opportunities – Jim Donnan and Bob Pruett as the most recent examples. (Of course, Pruett never left despite being considered as a candidate for many jobs). Add to this mix Doc’s heritage & significant contacts in West Virginia and this job seems like a great natural “fit” for him.
It would be irresponsible to offer any speculative conjecture on Holliday’s reasons. Only Doc and his family know the reasons…but, another piece of information does not fit into the bigger picture puzzle here — Holliday was (allegedly) very disappointed that he was not offered the East Carolina job on both occassions that it has been open in the last three years. Marshall, who can also pay more than ECU, is an infinitely better opportunity across every major component of a college football program. With that said, Holliday’s disappointment in not landing the ECU job could not be more inconsistent with the decision not to pursue the Marshall opportunity that is such a better job and personal fit for him.
Proud to be a Florida Gator?
I think that people who are unfamiliar with Gainesville may fail to realize the allure of the area and the University of Florida football program. When headed by the right person, the UF program is one of the top five in the country. (See: Steve Spurrier). UF is a large public institution with an exceptional base of resources, great facilities, and large alumni/fan support. If you don’t believe me, take a look at their 58,500 fans at this year’s spring game.
I believe that if you could hold almost all other factors constant (like coaching, administrators, etc), I would rank Florida and Texas as THE two public schools at the very top of the list of national football programs with the most, and most significant, set of inherent advantages — proximity to large recruiting bases, nationally recognized academics, fan support, financial strength, facilities, sunshine/weather, pretty girls, great campus experiences, large alumni base, etc, etc.
Thinking about the Future?
Lastly, I truly believe that Doc Holliday would be a legimitate candidate to replace Chuck Amato at NC State (God forbid) if there was any reason/need one day in the future. State’s job, and similar ones would be easier for Holliday to land if he were coming as the head man from a place like Marshall rather than coming as the #2 guy (having never had head coaching experience) from another program. In fact, there is a chance that Holliday would (hypothetically) be competing for such a job against whomever Marshall’s head coach would be, in addition to names of successful coaches from similar schools like Shane Montgomery at Miami of Ohio.
Holliday’s departure from Raleigh and mere presence in Gainesville raises an interesting point of comparison and contrast. If only Lee Fowler was the Athletics Director at the University of Florida, then Doc Holliday would undoubtedly still be roaming the sidelines in Raleigh.
There would have been no way on God’s green earth that Fowler would have had the gumption or the confidence to have ever made the ultimate move that resulted on Holliday’s departure. Ron Zook would have been signed to lifetime contract after three straight bowl appearances, three straight Top 25 rankings, and a 16-8 SEC record that included an SEC East Title in his second year to go along with some of the best recruiting in the country.
Instead of constantly arguing with the fanbase and chastising the Gator supporters for being human and wanting to succeed on levels that they had historically achieved, UF’s AD Jeremy Foley chose to manage in the real world instead of a non-existent idealistic world.
Instead of incessantly proclaiming that Ron Zook is a “good coach and a good man”, Foley understood that his mission as Athletics Director is to deliver the absolute best that the University of Florida can achieve irregardless of personal relationships and perspectives. Choosing to understand and empathize with his rabid fan base as opposed to needing to prove his opinion about Zook being a good coach was “right”, Foley confidently made a move that has immediately restored the buzz and the fans’ passion for their beloved Gators.
Foley effectively traded a coach delivering Top 25 results for a coach that he believed could deliver better results…and simultaneously re-energized the majority of UF’s dwindling fan support. That takes guts. That takes foresight. That takes self-confidence.
The buzz that has spread throughout the Gator Nation this spring was centralized on Saturday.
On a perfect day, an estimated crowd of 58,500 showed up for a scrimmage creating the atmosphere of a real, live college football game.
“This was a great day for Florida football,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said. “It was the first time I was ever nervous before a spring game. I was nervous just because I knew a lot of people would be watching.”
It was the largest home crowd Urban Meyer has ever seen as a head coach, the previous high being 46,768 when he was at Utah, and eclipsed the combined total of the two biggest home crowds he experienced at Bowling Green.
“It really hit me between the third and fourth quarters,” Meyer said, “when I kept hearing ‘Boys from Old Florida’ and about the traditions here. It’s a little humbling.”
Florida’s previous high for a spring game was 39,500 in Ron Zook’s first year. By last spring, the number had dwindled to 24,500.
Gator clubs, including the one in Atlanta, chartered buses to carry eager fans to Gainesville. There were fans tailgating in parking lots three hours before the game. At 8:30 a.m., UF football historian Norm Carlson pulled up to the stadium to see people waiting in line for a ticket office that wouldn’t open for another 30 minutes.
The smart ones bought tickets during the week, 3,500 compared to the usual 100 or so that are usually sold for the spring game.
And once the tickets did go on sale, the lines were daunting. They were so long there was the first reported sighting of ticket scalpers at a spring game, a half-dozen or so looking to take advantage of antsy Gator fans shifting from foot to foot in line as they heard the national anthem drifting into the blue sky. Fans were still outside the stadium buying tickets as the first half came to an end.
It wasn’t just the fans but also the media that took note of Meyer’s first spring game. For the first time, the Florida sports information department assigned seats in the press box because 178 media credentials were issued. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent college football guru Tony Barnhart, CNN-Sports Illustrated.com had a writer on hand and the national football writer for The Associated Press also came to witness the game.
There was a Who’s Who of former Gator stars on the sideline as well – Chris Doering, Taylor Jacobs, Larry Kennedy, John Reaves, Danny Wuerffel and Jack Youngblood to name a few. They are part of the Urban Renewal project designed to bring former players back into the fold.
Youngblood, Florida’s only member of the NFL Hall of Fame, said that when he played in spring games in the late 1960s the crowd wouldn’t have filled up one section of the stadium. “It doesn’t surprise me because Gator fans have such great passion,” said Youngblood. “(Meyer) has started that enthusiasm again.”
For the Florida faithful, this has been a spring of renewal. After 15 losses in three years under Zook, their hope is alive again.
James Smith, a 37-year-old contractor from Miami and UF alumnus, quit coming to the spring games after Zook’s first season, but he was there Saturday. “This is like a rebirth for me,” Smith said. “It’s like three years were lost in every aspect except recruiting. Now, everything is new and fresh and I’m glad to be here.”
Good for the Gators.