Jeremy Foley still doing a lot of things right at Florida

There always are going to be people who want to see Jeremy Foley fired. That’s because the Florida football team isn’t Alabama and Ohio State and USC and Florida State all rolled up into one unbeatable juggernaut. We’re not talking about reaching that monstrous level this year, either, but every year.

GAINESVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 06:  Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley speaks on during an introductory press conference on December 6, 2014 in Gainesville, Florida. Jim McElwain has left Colorado State and replaces ex-Florida head coach Will Muschamp who was fired earlier this season.
GAINESVILLE, FL – Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley speaks during a Dec. 6, 2014 press conference introducing new football coach Jim McElwain.

Remember when the Gators actually did rule the world, and in both major sports? During the three-year span from 2006-08, Florida won two national championships in football and two more in basketball, which is such a ridiculous level of achievement that Alabama and Ohio State and USC and FSU all rolled into one couldn’t pull it off, and that’s in combination with Duke and UCLA and UConn and Kansas and all those hoop hangouts, too.

Well, Foley’s taking a few hits these days and he’s punching back with a few new hires, Jim McElwain and Mike White, who will need a little time to gain some traction. Overall, the Gators are still tearing into the competition pretty good in all the sports that come without RV cities and $300, two-night-minimum hotel stays.

According to the Learfield Sports Directors Cup standings, which measure achievement in men’s and women’s sports across the board, Florida earned the No. 4 spot nationally this year with a pair of NCAA titles (gymnastics and softball) and 13 top-10 finishes in the other sports.

The Gators’ nearest misses were men’s track and field, a national runnerup in both the indoor and outdoor competitions, and baseball, which tied for third in the College World Series.

Altogether, this is the seventh-consecutive finish in Learfield’s national Top 10 for the Florida athletic program. Also, Florida’s media relations department reports that the Gators are the only program in the nation to win multiple national titles in each of the last six years.

Foley, the only AD in Div. I history to oversee multiple national championship title teams in football and men’s basketball, doesn’t get many brownie points for all of that when Gator Boosters gather to grumble about losing to Georgia Southern in football.

The Gators do live in the SEC, after all.

For anybody who cares about anything else, however, Florida continues to do a lot of things right, and Foley is the man in charge of that.

 

 

2014-15 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings

School                       Points

Stanford                   1482.0

UCLA                         1236.0

USC                           1209.0

Florida                      1188.5

North Carolina         1152.0

 

 

 

It’s been a long time since Gators had simultaneous restart in football and hoops

Not since 1990 have the Florida Gators simultaneously started over with new coaches in football (Jim McElwain) and basketball (Michael White). Spooky stuff, but it really did work out pretty good that other time.

 Michael White (yahoo.com)
Michael White
(yahoo.com)

All Steve Spurrier did was give Florida its first SEC title. Then he won five more of those and the 1999 national championship, too — another Gator first.

Meanwhile, Lon Kruger — who also came on in 1990 — was making something of Florida basketball, too. He took the Gators to their first Final Four in 1994, the highest achievement for the program until Billy Donovan came along.

White’s turn at the wheel begins Monday with his introductory press conference in Gainesville.

White seems painfully young at 38, but he’s eight years older than Donovan was when he took the Florida job in 1996.

White is a coach’s son, but his father moved on from small-college track and field to become an athletic director. Today Kevin White is the athletic director at Duke. They seem to know a little about basketball up there, so that’s a good sign.

Florida AD Jeremy Foley had more than just White’s coaching record at Louisiana Tech (101-40) as a job recommendation. In his college days, White played basketball for Ole Miss, starting at point guard from his freshman year on. That sounds like leadership. What’s more, White is tied for seventh on the Rebels’ career assists list. That computes as leadership, too, and is an example of the kind of team-first concept that Donovan made work at Florida.

And how did White do as a player in games against Florida? Well, it’s pretty tough digging up box scores from 1998 and 1999 on the fly, but the overall results suggest he had a pretty good handle on the Ole Miss offense.

Jim McElwain (Getty Images)
Jim McElwain (Getty Images)

The Rebels beat Florida 90-79 at Oxford during White’s junior year. As a senior, he was part of a 79-68 win over the Gators at the O’Connell Center. That Gators team went 22-9 and made it to the Sweet 16 for the first time under Donovan. Matter of fact, that Ole Miss game was the only one Florida lost at home that season.

White is getting $2 million a year to coach the Gators. Not bad, considering Billy D signed for $400,000 per year on his original contract at Florida.

Not much pressure, then, on McElwain and White. Like I said, this double dose of change hasn’t happened at Florida since 1990. Prior to that, you have to go back to 1960, when Ray Graves became the football coach and slippery old Norm Sloan began his first of two runs in charge of Florida hoops.